Is it Time to Address Your Quiet Quitter?

Is it Time to Address Your Quiet Quitter?

by Sara Bennett | October 27, 2022

0 INFO AND RESOURCES FOR EMPLOYERS Disengaged Employees, Hiring/Firing, Is it Time to Fire a Quiet Quitter?, quiet firing, quiet quitting

Do you find yourself wondering if you have some “quiet quitters” on your team?   Has the team’s morale suddenly taken a turn for the worse?  Are you no longer confident that the team has the same enthusiasm for its mission that it once had?

Here are a few clues to look for when looking for answers to these questions:

Chronic Disengagement

It is not unusual for people on your team (any team) to go through a brief slump or even an extended period where they are less engaged with their work than they could be or once were.  Its when this disengagement starts to look like an everyday thing and your efforts to re engage are not working that even the most skillful managers need to face the possibility they have one or more quiet quitters on their team.

Quiet quitters by definition are removing themselves from their emotional investment in their job or their team.  Initiative, things that make them curious, motivated to get involved in solving problems, actively participating in team interactions or group activities, get set aside.  What they do is only those things that are absolutely necessary.  You have to e mail for information 2 maybe even three times before you get a response.

For some, quiet quitting is unintentional and disengagement happens gradually, before it suddenly becomes noticeable.  For others, quiet quitting is an act of rebellion against business challenges and “hustle culture”.  You’ll notice these quiet quitter right away because they will tend to be even outspoken about what they’re no longer willing to do.  For others, quiet quitting is a rational response to what is going on out there in the larger universe.  What they once thought was a solid reason for “going above and beyond” no longer applies.  Raises aren’t keeping up with inflation.  Promotions are few and far between.

Whatever the reason, when disengagement becomes chronic there is an easily observed detachment between the employee, their work, even their teammates. 

Minimum Performance

Again, by definition, a quiet quitter only does what is necessary to keep their jobs. If an angry customer calls, they’ll find a way to avoid the issue, escalating it up to the supervisor before even trying to find a solution.  If a team project requires someone to do tasks outside of regilar work hours, they never volunteer.  They lack urgency when discussing and/or completing tasks.  They are often late to or miss meetings, and no longer speak up with ideas or suggestions that could help the team.  Some will even withhold important knowledge from others, no longer motivated by the team’s success.

Stressed Teammates

Are your other employees expressing feelings of being unable to keep up with what once was standard performance expectations? Look to see if the quiet quitter has anything to do with slowdowns or off target results.  When one member of the team stops going above and beyond, others on the team are often expected to pick up the slack, resulting in disproportionate work distributions and ultimately resentment that spreads throughout the team.

One Quiet Quitter Can Impact the Team

Quiet quitting even by one teammember on a small team, can have a devastating effect on productivity and morale.    To maintain the appropriate output level, other members of your team may be required to work harder, absorb the stress that gets created when others have to make up for the quiet quitter.  This can lead to increased burnout, decreased productivity, and contribute to others decisions to look elsewhere for a better work environment.   Unattended, one quiet quitter can even turn some of your best fitting employees into other quiet quitters.  After all, if the quiet quitter can get away with doing the bare minimum, why should they break their backs?

What to do Before Its Time to Terminate!

So, is it time to fire your quiet quitter? First, you need to take inventory of the reasons that might have prompted an employee to quietly quit in the first place.  Is there something about your management style or workplace that facilitated this problem? Are you dealing with an employee aptitude or attitude problem?  What have you done to get engagement in the first place, or resurrect it once it starts to wane?

Communication is key.  Frequent, frank, and non-punitive discussions with all employees about how they are experiencing their work, the workplace, and overall job satisfaction.   You also need to express your feelings and suspicions to the employee you think might quietly quitting directly.  Some people call them “stay interviews” but the question you need to explore with a potential quiet quitter is whether or not they consider themselves the right fit for the job?   It starts by letting them know you’ve noticed their disengagement and want to know how you should be interpreting their signs of disengagement?  Do they need some time off to replenish their energy or deal with a personal issue that is obviously having impact on their work?  Is it a time to adjust their job description with new and different projects?  Ask if there is anything you can do to help, but also make it known that you don’t want them to get in a rut and that compromising the team’s productivity is not an option.  Make it easy for them to tell you they may need to make a job change, and help them do that in a way that is minimally impactful to the team.

Be certain to follow-up your verbal conversation with a written summary of what you discussed and your commitments to each other. If this coaching discussion does not change the quiet quitter’s behavior, it may be time to plan their exit from the company.

Is it Time to Reach Out To PACE? 

We can’t tell if your quiet quitter needs to be rehabilitated or terminated, but we can let you know that if you have to terminate an employee, a call to PACE Staffing Network will ease the pain of finding the right replacement. Recruiting high quality candidates is never easy and in today’s market those challenges have gotten even tougher.   We’re on your team.  We’re your partner.  We’ve got an entire network of recruiting and staffing solutions that can be custom designed to fit your needs for service and your budget!

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