Quiet quitters don’t abandon ship. They don’t complain loudly. Instead these employees gently pull-back, and your business stops benefitting from their entire focus, energy and brilliance.
For leaders, that should trigger alarm bells. But many carry on like nothing is amiss.
The question isn’t whether you have people in your company that have stopped going ‘above and beyond’—inevitably, you do. If you’re serious about creating a high-performing organizational culture that delivers high profit margins, you should be asking: “how can we identify this subtle employee discontent and disinterest, and do something about it sooner?”
After all, it’s essentially a silent protest.
Senior executives in charge of building a cost-effective and committed workforce must put sophisticated systems in place that sound a warning. We explore the insidious nature of quiet quitting and the imperative to gain better visibility of when employees’ behaviors, work patterns, and motivations change.
Is your company losing momentum due to lackluster work?
Quiet quitting is a new term for an age-old problem of unmotivated and overwhelmed people not being willing, or able, to give their all. The trend emerged from a viral TikTok video — and largely in reaction to unfair expectations during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as unpaid overtime and added responsibilities.
Quiet quitters show up, but stay strictly within job requirements. In fact, they may even feel empowered by embracing the mentality because they see it as:
- not letting employers take advantage of them; and
- necessary to protect themselves (from burnout).
While a quiet quitter may still perform given tasks at a high level, their focus on enforcing boundaries and resisting out-of-scope tasks can erode the enthusiasm, momentum and creative spark that you need people to bring to their work.
Fostering a great culture requires swift C-suite action on disengagement
Leaders need to build a workforce that feels empowered to excel at work without compromising their wellbeing, so they can be dogged in their efforts to deliver value. A company culture that inspires loyalty, innovation and discretionary effort is key to your ability to be productive, generate revenue and grow.
People remain divided over whether it’s reasonable for workers to re-evaluate their priorities, or whether quiet quitting poses a major risk to productivity and performance.
Both may be true. Leaders need to act either way, in order to:
- Re-shape practices that instill a toxic ‘hustle culture’
- Rethink the fairness of your management, development and reward approaches
- Re-connect people with your company’s purpose
In business, being able to maximize people’s talent is essential to gaining a competitive advantage The C-suite needs to spot quiet quitting early to continually refine initiatives to increase engagement, create workplaces that support work-life balance, and keep people striving towards your company’s strategic goals.
Your profit margins suffer when good workers go quiet
There’s a clear profitability impact from quiet quitting. Your human resource costs remain relatively stable, but your revenue-generating capacity diminishes. You don’t just lose extra hours worked, you lose extra effort during normal hours of work.
Stealthy ways that costs your business includes:
- Employees experiencing burnout get sick more often, requiring more leave/support.
- You can’t maximize the input of talented people, meaning reduced productivity.
- Collaboration and culture declines, affecting attraction and retention efforts.
- Less interest in development opportunities, hampering your succession planning.
- You don’t stand out or innovate as quickly, affecting your competitive advantage.
- Less initiative, resulting in more oversights, missed opportunities and risks.
- Reduced loyalty, meaning employees churn sooner, increasing recruitment spend.
Are the potential losses significant enough to warrant C-suite intervention?
Consider this: quiet quitting has a higher chance of curtailing the verve of your top performers at every level. Why? It’s perfectly captured by the phrase “If you want something done, ask a busy person.”
People with a reputation for skill, tenacity and getting results are often the ones tasked with tricky and urgent work. That includes small, daily tasks through to major projects like digital transformations, business model pivots, and dramatic operational shifts like those required during the pandemic (the very same overwhelm-inducing event that sparked quiet quitting).
It’s a downhill slide when these people start to switch-off.
How can monitoring employees make a difference?
An employee-friendly productivity monitoring tool like Time Doctor helps organizations avoid losing margin on unproductive and unmotivated staff affected by disengagement and burnout. It makes time and activity measurable regardless of direct supervision, so you can offer your employees greater flexibility and trust — to foster a culture where unpaid overtime or ‘always on’ responsiveness isn’t a key performance measure.
Time Doctor gives managers reliable insights into attendance and performance, plus non-intrusive ways to observe work behaviors and patterns, which creates the opportunity to:
- Address unspoken needs for workload reductions and increased support;
- Initiate open conversations about waning productivity and motivation sooner;
- Rectify systematic issues that impact behaviors, such as work schedules.
Specifically, Time Doctor employee monitoring helps you remedy quiet quitting through:
- Insightful work-life balance reporting that identifies overworked employees;
- Workday analytics about tools, tasks and collaborations employees spend time on;
- Clarity on when work occurs and accountability lapses, e.g., not starting on time;
- Productivity tracking reports that guide feedback about expectations and outputs;
- Insight into contributions that help you fairly recognise, celebrate and reward people.
Unless you move towards systems that help you see, with precision, how individuals’ contribute — in terms of both time, activity, and outputs — across each workday and over time, quiet quitting can remain hidden, unchecked and harmful.
What kind of systems? Of, course we’d argue Time Doctor is the one you can’t live without, but there’s a huge variety of tools you could be using to influence your team’s effort — check out our list of the best productivity tools.