Contrary to what the phrase “quiet quitting” implies, quiet quitting does not actually involve quitting a job. Instead, it refers to a situation in which workers simply do the absolute bare minimum that is required of them in order to prevent getting fired.

One example of this phenomenon can be found in the famous movie from the late 1990s, Office Space, in which the main character, Peter Gibbons, confesses to only doing about “15 minutes of real actual work” per week. He just relaxes, pretends to work the rest of the week, or avoids doing actual job tasks.

While this is an exaggerated version of quiet quitting, it is a perfect example of how quiet quitting works. Essentially, to quiet quit, an employee figures out what is the exact minimum amount of work that he or she has to do per week. Then, he or she only does this amount, oftentimes stretching out the amount of time it takes to complete these tasks. Additionally, he or she never comes in early, works late, or puts in any extra effort of any kind.

Why is Quiet Quitting a Problem

“Quiet quitting is a problem because it minimizes the efficiency and output of every employee. It causes companies to get a significantly lower return on investment for their employees than they would otherwise be able to get if the employees were not quiet quitting.”

Another major problem regarding quiet quitting is that it can be difficult for an employer to anticipate ahead of time all of the tasks that they will need the employee to perform. Therefore, sometimes tasks are left out of the work contract or employment agreement. Then, employees who quiet quit simply refuse to do anything that is outside the initial contract or agreement.

This creates a major performance gap for employers, who in the past, have relied heavily on employees to step up and perform additional tasks as the need arises. So, employers not only are getting less out of their employees now due to the quiet quitting trend, but they are also under increased pressure to create more thorough and elaborate work contracts which is another significant problem.

How Serious is the Quiet Quitting Problem?

The quiet quitting problem is actually quite serious and widespread. In fact, it is estimated that more than 50% of employees in the United States are quiet quitters. This means that more than half of the working population in the US are doing the absolute bare minimum and not adding an extra ounce of effort or enthusiasm beyond what is required to not be fired.

Reasons Why Employees are Quiet Quitting

1. Inflation

A dollar bill disintegrating

     Wages are only increasing an average of 3-6 percent per year

Because inflation rates are so high, many people are increasingly feeling that the salaries or wages that they are being paid are not enough. In fact, wages are only increasing an average of 3-6 percent per year, but the CPI inflation rate is currently over 8 percent and housing prices have been increasing by roughly 20 percent per year over the last two years. So, essentially, many employees feel like the money they are being paid is not going far enough and that employers are not raising wages fast enough. Therefore, they are less motivated to work hard and are more motivated to quiet quit.

2. Avoiding Burnout

The last two years have been especially difficult for many people worldwide. The COVID pandemic has not only resulted in the deaths of millions of people, but it has devastated businesses, caused many people to fear human interactions that used to bring comfort, and otherwise caused a wide variety of problems. “With people having to deal with so much increased stress because of the COVID pandemic, many people have less energy for work and use quiet quitting as a way to try to prevent themselves from becoming completely burned out by their jobs.”

3. Lack of Opportunities for Advancement

Man climbing the corporate ladder

Undeniably, if employees feel that there is no way for them to move up through the company and earn more money, they will not feel as motivated to work hard and go above and beyond. Instead, they will most likely do the minimum amount that is required and they will use their excess energy to try and figure out how to get a position outside of your company that pays more and that can help them to advance their careers.

What You Can Do to Reduce Quiet Quitting 

1. Create Inflation-Adjusted Salaries

If it is possible for your company to give raises to employees that account for inflation at least once a year, then you should do it. This is because if you don’t, your employees will feel like it is getting harder for them to afford everything they need: housing, food, fuel, gasoline, etc. If you want to get more out of your employees, one of the best ways to do this is to ensure that you are paying them enough given the high inflationary period that we live through.

2. Create a Compassionate and Caring Culture

You should remember that your employees are the lifeblood of your company and you should make sure that your company is doing what it can to make sure that your employees feel cared about. You should make sure that you provide your employees with valuable benefits. Not every company has the resources to offer their employees incredible benefits, but, employees will be more motivated to work hard for your company if they feel your company values them. Benefits you should consider are health, dental, and vision insurance, gym memberships, life insurance, and paid time off.

3. Create Opportunities for Advancement

87% of millennials say career advancement is a big factor in deciding whether to stay at a company

If you want your employees to work harder, then ensuring they understand that there are opportunities for advancement can be extremely effective. Having opportunities for career advancement not only helps to reduce quiet quitting, but it also can help to improve employee retention rates. In fact, 87 percent of millennials cite career advancement opportunities as a crucial factor in deciding whether or not to stay at a company long-term.

Conclusion 

Although quiet quitting can be harder to detect and is not as obvious as standard quitting, it still can have a strong negative impact on a business. If you suspect that a significant amount of quiet quitting is happening at your company, then it might be time for you to start making changes that can help to improve employee performance.

Essentially, reducing quieting quitting boils down to a few main factors. First, your employees need to feel that they are being paid enough. Second, they need to feel that they are valued enough by the company. Finally, they need to feel there is a way to move up the corporate ladder.

If you can improve any of these areas at your company, you could see a performance increase amongst your employees and a reduction in quitting.