The real culprits behind quiet quitting
In his 1970 classic Exit, Voice, and Loyalty, economist Albert Hirschman states that people’s responses to dissatisfaction are to exit, raise their voice, or be loyal. For example, when a person is not happy with their job, they either decide to leave or exercise their right to speak up and advocate for improvements, depending on their loyalty.
However, Hirschman’s analysis overlooks something important: what people do when they can’t risk speaking up and can’t afford to walk away. In this case, they will do the bare minimum — just enough so they are not fired.
Doing the bare minimum at work is a typical response to abusive managers, meaningless jobs, and poor pay. When people don’t feel cared about, they will eventually stop caring in return.
When there are respectful interactions, meaningful work, and generous pay, people are willing to go the extra mile. But managers should count themselves lucky if anyone is motivated when they’re treated like dirt, assigned pointless work, and underpaid.
What is quiet quitting?
In July 2022, a TikTok user named Zaiad Khan posted about “quiet quitting,” saying “I recently learned about this term called ‘quiet quitting’ where you’re not outright quitting your job, but you’re quitting the idea of going above and beyond.”
Quiet quitting is when an employee does only the bare minimum at work and puts in no extra effort beyond what is required, losing the motivation to prosper at work or learn. The employee is disengaged from work. There, you read it right! The word is “disengaged” — the horror that HR has been dealing with for ages.
Reasons for employee disengagement have been different in different eras. While Ford employees in 1917 felt disengaged because they thought Ford was dehumanizing employees as mere resources, today’s reasons for employee disengagement are different.
Real reasons behind the quiet quitting epidemic and how employers can address the issues
Regarding the quiet quitting problem, there’s good news and bad news.
The bad news? It’s a really big problem. So big that by September 2022, a Gallup survey found that at least 50% of the US workforce considers themselves “quiet quitters.” This assessment seems concerning, considering that employee engagement directly impacts turnover, productivity, and profitability.
This leads us to the good news…
The good news is that since employee engagement is such a high-stakes problem to solve, the HRForecast team put together an anonymous survey to find out the real reasons behind quiet quitting, which directly relates to employee engagement. Our survey has uncovered some interesting results.
Below, we discuss the three most common culprits of quiet quitting and how employees feel that employers can help them overcome the problems they face.
#1 Employees feel their work is underpaid or undervalued
As they say, you get what you pay for. Deciding to underpay your employees or pay less than the industry average is risky. Budget restraints and financial considerations always play into decisions about how you compensate your employees. But is paying your employees less worth the risk?
When employees feel underpaid, it can lead to quiet quitting through lack of engagement, less efficient performance, and many other things that can affect your company and your bottom line.
Solution: While salaries are a sensitive topic, discussing compensation is something that nobody can avoid. Explain to your employees how your company’s pay structure works and what you look for when giving an employee a raise. By being transparent and educating your employees about this sensitive issue, employees will better understand how their pay will increase over time and and even work harder to prove that they deserve that pay increase.
#2 Employees find the senior management incompetent
There’s at least one incompetent employee in every company. And thousands of unqualified bosses slip up the ranks and into positions they have no right to hold. It’s just part of work life, and it aggravates the heck out of employees. There is not a lot that employees can do if they’re under the thumb of a bumbling boss.
Solution: While many “senior managers” are often selected for their professional competence alone. However, competence differs from character or leadership skills and should not be confused. When the emphasis is on professional competence and not enough on character, the results can be troublesome. Senior management should develop a moral compass to use those skills appropriately.
#3 Employees feel burnout from stress and workload
Deloitte’s external marketplace survey of 1,000 full-time US professionals indicates that 77% of respondents have experienced employee burnout. Whether employees are dealing with difficult bosses or coworkers, demanding work tasks, or long hours at the office, these factors can hugely affect mental health and overall well-being and eventually lead to quiet quitting.
Solution: First off, managers are the day-to-day buffers against burnout. Having an empathetic manager has been shown to decrease instances of burnout. According to Gallup, employees whose manager is always willing to listen to their work-related problems are 62% less likely to be burned out.
On the other hand, HR also plays a role in preventing burnout. This role involves establishing company-wide initiatives that have a long-term impact on an organization, such as implementing a recognition program or institutionalizing mental health and burnout training for employees.
About the guide
HRForecast conducted an anonymous survey to understand why quiet quitting occurs. Participants received a questionnaire they could answer anonymously, either choosing from multiple choice answers or writing their own.
The purpose of the survey was to explore detailed reasons for quiet quitting and uncover solutions to address factors that demotivate people or diminish performance. Download the guide to get the statistics, reasons for quite quitting, and solutions to combat it.