Quiet Quitting: A Sign of Poor Employee Engagement

CoachHub · 29 August 2022 ·

What is quiet quitting?

Quiet quitting is a new workplace trend that calls for an end to hustle culture. A quiet quitter is someone who has decided to pull back from going the extra mile in their professional life. One does not actually quit their job but rather, they quit overextending themselves at work.

The trend is a popular topic on social media platforms, mainly TikTok, where young professionals are declaring their new professional boundaries. “You’re no longer subscribing to the hustle-culture mentality that work has to be your life”, one explains.

Quiet quitting highlights a new attitude emerging towards one’s work-life balance. Employee well-being is being increasingly valued in modern workplaces. For the first time, workplace well-being is being valued over productivity. Setting firm boundaries and quietly quitting work may be the trends that replace hustle culture and toxic productivity.

Quiet quitters are calling for a shift in how we identify ourselves and define our self-worth. The next generation has entered the workforce and many are refusing to define their life based on their career. Young professionals are placing more value on what they do outside of work hours and are more concerned with crafting their identity separate from their job.

“Quiet quitting is just people saying, there’s more to life than work. Do I want to work to live, or live to work?”– Aaron McEwan FAHRI, Gartner

The question remains if quiet quitting will actually affect overall productivity. Approaching work from a place of less stress and anxiety may allow employees to feel more empowered and better able to fulfill their tasks. They may experience increased fulfillment from other aspects of their life, resulting in a more energized employee. There is a worrying underlying cause, however, pointing at your employees’ disengagement.

Why are workers quietly quitting?

Although the trend is gaining significant momentum on social media a recent study found that only 21% of workers are quietly quitting and doing the bare minimum, while just 5% admit to doing less than what they’re paid to do. When asked why workers decided to quietly quit the top three answers were as follows:

  • “I don’t want to work more hours without additional pay”
  • “It would compromise my mental health”
  • “It would compromise my work-life balance”

There are many factors contributing to the emergence of this trend. The culture and attitudes of a new generation entering the workforce will create inevitable shifts in the professional world.

Poor employee wellbeing

Not wanting to comprise one’s mental health and work-life balance were amongst the top three reasons employees gave for quiet quitting. Young professionals are more focused on their well-being than ever before. Workplaces that lack a focus and discussion around improving mental health and workplace wellbeing not only risk disengagement from their employees but also risk losing them to employers who offer substantial wellness benefits.

Remote work & Covid-19

Today’s remote work climate has enabled workers to disengage from their roles with little obvious impact. A home office provides fewer opportunities to prove commitment and show enthusiasm towards their role. The recent pandemic also forced workers to invite too much of their work life into their personal lives. The Wall Street Journal highlights how most 20-somethings joined the workforce during Covid-19, a time when there were severely “blurred boundaries between work and life”.


The quiet quitter may not be a disengaged employee who wants to do the bare minimum. They may also be the employee who has gone above and beyond for too long to the point of burnout, “8 in 10 ‘quiet quitters’ are burned out”. Quiet quitting is an attractive path for employees who are exhausted, overworked and receive little or no recognition.

Gaslighting at work

What to do when you identify quiet quitting

Identifying quiet quitters is essential in being able to re-engage employees. Look out for the following signs in your employees:

  • Missing meetings
  • Arriving late or leaving early
  • Reduced commitment to tasks
  • Less respect for deadlines
  • Withdrawing from team activities and any optional activities
  • Less display of passion and enthusiasm
  • Obvious disengagement on a regular basis
  • Barely aligning to performance standards
  • Self-isolation from team culture
  • Not speaking up or taking action to improve issues

Poor employee engagement and well-being are parallel to quiet quitting. If you witness these signs in your employees consider the following suggestions to improve their engagement:

Improve the employee experience

Establish an open dialogue regarding what motivates your employees and what they need to improve their engagement and resilience at work. Empower your employees to express what they need. This shows trust and helps you to understand what makes them feel appreciated and valued.

Encourage a positive work-life balance

Ensure employees know you want them to have a positive work-life balance. This can be as simple as showing curiosity about their interests and hobbies, encouraging them to explore creative pursuits and aligning on expectations.

Address work-load concerns

Get employees’ feedback regarding their workload. Discuss the tasks they enjoy the most and the tasks they find the least engaging. Can anything be done to shift tasks to align with what motivates them the most? Could their workload be too much and/ or do they feel understimulated by their tasks? Getting an idea of the projects that interest them the most will boost their motivation at work.

Talk about career progression

Ensure career progression is a regular topic of discussion. Holding career progression workshops, providing upskilling opportunities and helping employees to define future career goals will keep them engaged and motivated. Forbes recommends holding quarterly interviews to engage employees on their performance, workplace wellbeing and future aspirations. “Together, managers and direct reports can identify and address any pain points and determine ways to increase engagement and the overall company culture.”

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How coaching can help

Coaching is a strong statement of an employer’s commitment to their employee’s overall growth and personal wellbeing. When employees receive adequate support to develop outside of their regular tasks and responsibilities, they too will be more willing to go above and beyond.

Re-engage employees

Coaching helps disengaged employees define realistic and inspiring objectives. With a discussion around future aspirations and desired accomplishments employees can become incentivized to work towards a meaningful goal. It was found that “9 in 10 ‘quiet quitters’ could be incentivized to work harder”. Regular coaching sessions can be the source of motivation employees need to reengage themselves and begin to give more at work.

Invests in their wellbeing

If employees see their work life as something that contributes positively to their well-being they will not feel the attraction of quite quitting. Providing coaching creates a space for employees to improve their well-being at work and will greatly reduce their impulse to withdraw.

Improves loyalty

Employees are invested in employers that invest in them. When employees feel that their workplace genuinely cares about their well-being, career progression and interests they will become more motivated to perform and remain in their roles. Coaching is a way to cultivate loyalty within teams as they will easily commit to a company that is committed to them.

Avoids burnout

Coaching can help identify employees who are on the verge of burnout or disengagement and prevent them from deciding to quietly quit. Coaching provides valuable insights into employees’ mental states and attitudes towards their work. Coaches can identify employees at risk of withdrawing and provide support and guidance to motivate them before it happens.

In conclusion

Quiet quitting makes for an attractive and intriguing TikTok trend. While it promotes healthy boundaries, mental health and building a life outside of work, it can also be the perfect excuse that bored and unmotivated employees have been looking for to totally withdraw. The trend is a clear statement of the changes that both young professionals and the new world of remote working are bringing to the workforce. Quiet quitting need not be a cause of concern for employers who are showing an interest in their employees’ well-being and providing engaging resources, such as coaching. With a strong investment in your employees’ engagement, the trend may have little effect on your organization.

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Cathy Stapleton
Cathy is an Irish writer based in Berlin, Germany who is passionate about using words to inspire growth. As a certified mindfulness facilitator and performance coach, Cathy aims to create work that helps people connect with themselves and heighten their awareness. When she is not writing she is usually running in nature, meditating or contemplating an existential crisis.

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