Wondering if you have a QUIET QUITTER on your team?*

Wondering if you have a QUIET QUITTER on your team?*

by Sara Bennett | October 27, 2022

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Here’s some of the symptoms of Quiet Quitting….

  • The employee no longer shows the same level of enthusiasm for their work or their team they once did
  • The employee lacks urgency when discussing and/or completing tasks.
  • The employee is often late to or misses meetings
  • The employee seems unengaged in team meetings….doesn’t provide much input even if asked.
  • The employee no longer has ideas or suggestions to improve the team’s processes or workflows, again when asked.
  • The employee withholds important information from others, no longer motivated to help the team be successful.
  • The employee avoids the tough challenges.  If, for example, an angry customer calls, they’ll find a way to escalate the situation to others rather than addressing the issue themselves.
  • They never volunteer for work outside their regular job description ….even when its really their turn to volunteer.
  • You have to follow up with them on unfinished work or missed deadlines…not their norm.
  • The employee never arrives early and always leaves promptly at quitting time
  • Is the employee works remote, you can’t always reach them when you need to. You have to leave messages for them to call back, which they never do promptly.
  • The employee is starting to use more and more of their personal or sick time benefit…usually a day at a time (the famous “dunwidis” disease :))
  • The employee doesn’t participate in discretionary skill or training opportunities

If 4 or more of these bullets describe the behaviors of one or more employees, chances are you’ve got a quiet quitter on your hands!  

Is it a Temporary Slump or Chronic Disengagement?

While its not unusual for employees to go through brief or even extended periods 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 routine efforts to re engage are not working that managers need to face the possibility they have a quiet quitter on their team.

Address the disengagement early …..

To find out if the behaviors you’re observing are a temporary or chronic issue, you have to ask….

“I’m noticing a change in how you are interacting with me and others on the team over the last few weeks and felt I needed to reach out to share what I’m seeing and get your input on what might be creating this change.”

Provide specific examples.

“I have a long history with you not having to follow up on work you’ve been assigned and lately I’ve had to do more follow ups  than is norm for you and I.  Anything going on at work that I should be aware of?”  

For some, quiet quitting is often unintentional – the disengagement happens gradually before it suddenly becomes noticeable.  It is important to address the issue as soon as you notice it so that you begin the work to uncover and address the cause before it gets out of hand.

 Explore all possible causes….

Some employers have reported that quiet quitting is an act of rebellion against what they perceive as a “hustle culture” that defines the  current business environment.  They are looking for a kinder and gentler way to live.  Not all these types of quiet quitters are actually quiet and can be rather outspoken about what they’re no longer willing to do.  These quiet quitters need to be addressed quickly before their sentiments spread throughout he team.

For other quiet quitters, disengagement is a more rational response to what is going on in the larger business environment post covid.  What they once thought was a solid reason for “going above and beyond” they no longer believe applies.  Promotions aren’t happening.  Raises aren’t keeping up with inflation.  We’ve seen the reports where employees allegedly earn more going on government sponsored social welfare programs than they can earn in a job.  Workforce participation data provides these reports with credibility showing that the percentage of people eligible to work actually electing to work is at a multi decade low.   This is serious stuff folks, but outside the scope of this blog.

Stress, even resentments toward work, bosses and teammates, are often cited as precursors to quiet quitting.  Employees who can’t keep up with some new expectations are often the first to attack those expectations rather than address the challenges they are personally having in making the changes needed.    Definitions of work life balance are changing and where you once had a team where everyone agreed to going above and beyond, that may no longer be the case.  Its tricky to find ways that allows for individuals to pursue their own versions of work life balance….and when the balancing act gets out of wack, employees don’t necessarily want to leave the team, but they want to adjust how much time and effort they give to their work.  Their adjustment can often look like quiet quitting.

When one member of a team no longer believes there is a pay off for what they do and starts to slack, others on the team often feel the need to pick up the slack.  The result?  Work distributions get disproportionate and resentment spreads across the team.   “If John can get away with doing only the bare minimum, why should I break my back picking up the pieces.”  One quiet quitter can impact the entire team, turning even your best employees into other quiet quitters.

Wondering what to do with your Quiet Quitter?  The WHY matters! 

After you uncover you actually have a quiet quitter on your team, the next step is to decide what to do.  We think terminating should be your last choice unless the employee has a long history of being problematic which doesn’t describe most quiet quitters.

There are several approaches you can take all depending on what you believe is the underlying cause of your quiet quitter’s disengagement….

  • If you uncover that your quiet quitter has issues with how you are managing the team, how they believe they are being treated by others on their team, or if you’ve recently changed a process or policy that they have described as being at the root of their disengagement, think about what changes YOU CAN MAKE that might make a difference to your quiet quitter and perhaps others on the team.  While its never wise to make changes based on one person’s behavior, if you learn that the cause of one employee’s disengagement might also be impacting others on the team,  the issue isn’t just about quiet quitting.
  • Are you dealing with an employee aptitude or attitude problem?  Is the disengagement coming from a malicious place or is the employee just acting out of self preservation? Can the employee do what you are asking them to do?  Is the issue caused by a lack of  wanna do or a real issue with can do?  Many times quiet quitting is the result of an employee not having the skills or knowledge to excel in their role, and giving up before they believe their short comings will be discovered.
  • What might be going on in the employee’s personal life that is impacting their bandwidth to give work the priority it once had?  If there are personal issues, are they the kind that will be long or short term?
  • What have you been doing to address the lack of engagement up to now?  When the employees behavior first started to change, did you sit back and watch it happen or have you been actively involved with the employee’s malaise from the beginning?  What are your chances for turning around your quiet quitter IF you change your own behavior?
  • Is the underlying issue one that is likely impacting others on the team?  Is it time to think about your situation as an opportunity to revitalize the entire team, or do you need to focus on fixing this one employee?

Ideas you can START, STOP, or CONTINUE DOING that will help you Quiet Quitter get back on track!

  • How about some time off to replenish their energy or deal with a personal issue that is impacting their work?
  • Can you change how you demonstrate your appreciation for the contributions of your quiet quitter, or others on your team?  (Has a remote work environment inadvertently short changed the opportunities you once had to show appreciation?)
  • Can you help your quiet quitter learn how to tactfully set new work/life boundaries that would help them feel more comfortable with what’s going on in their life?
  • Can you adjust any of the employee’s work content or enhance it with some new and different projects?  Is it time to revisit their old job description that has morphed so many times it is not longer relevant?
  • What can you do to unravel any interpersonal issues on your team that need to be addressed?
  • Should you treat your quiet quitter as an individual issue to fix, or is there something going on with the entire team that needs a bigger course correction?
  • Do you need to scale back the work you’ve assigned to the quiet quitter so that they can get their job done in no more than a 40 hour week?
  • Can you offer some of the employee development or training opportunities that got put on hold pre covid?
  • Can you adjust some of the roles on the team to take better advantage of each employee’s strengths, including your quiet quitter?
  • Can you relax some of the changes in the team’s new work processes that are likely creating more obstacles than solutions?
  • What can you do about current pay levels, a dollars and cents way you can demonstrate all employees value?  There are a lot of companies who are dealing with “yesterday’s” comp plans and paying the price for that shortcoming in both increased levels of turnover and serious recruiting challenges.

While you may be able to adjust the work environment in hopes of re engaging your quiet quitter, you also need to set your own boundaries – making it clear that you’re not a fan of quiet quitting and you have to get all known issues resolved or decide to move in a different direction.  Quiet quitting behaviors can’t be allowed to compromise the team’s success!

If you suspect the issues with your quiet quitter are not resolvable, check out this seven step process that empowers your quiet quitter to make their own decisions about staying or leaving.   Check out the steps in that process here!  

Open, authentic and straight forward communication is always the first step to re engage your quiet quitter and your team.    

Quiet Quitting is not new, even though the term is.  Frequent, frank, and non-punitive discussions with all employees about how they are experiencing their work, the workplace, and overall job satisfaction is the time tested way to combat all forms of disengagement.

How Can We Help!

While we can’t make the decision about what to do with your quiet quitter, if you decide that you resolution isn’t likely, and you no longer can keep the quiet quitter on your team, we can help by easing  the pain of finding a new employee.  Chances are we’ve already got some candidates in our network that are a good fit for preferred candidate profile.  And if not, 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!

And sometimes the solution isn’t just a new hire, but may require using a short term temporary employee to “fill in the productivity gaps” while you look for your longer term solution.  We do that too.  In fact, our temp to hire auditioning model is our client’s most popular ways to hire and can make the transition from a quiet quitter to a fully engaged new employee relatively seamless.

Just give us a call and we’ll let you know how it works.

For more information about what PACE does and our focus on the unique needs of small to medium sized Northwest business, we’d love to have a personal chat.

You can reach us by using the contact form below, emailing us at partnerservices@pacestaffing.com  or calling us at 425-637-3312.

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