How HR Leaders Can Respond to Quiet Quitting

Employers may be concerned about the viral "quiet quitting" discussion, but what can they do about it?

Much has been said about "quiet quitting," or the idea of doing the minimum to keep your job. No checking your email off-hours, signing up for extra assignments, or climbing the corporate ladder. Some applaud the idea—after all, employees have families to attend to, hobbies to pursue, and after-hours activities to enjoy. Others disagree, saying it could lead to "quiet firing"—that is, slowly being pushed out by leadership. Entrepreneur and influencer (and founder of the Huffington Post) Arianna Huffington wrote that it's akin to "quitting on life."

Business woman stressed at work

Whatever the opinion, the fact is that disengaged employees are driving this public discussion. It's important to recognize there are likely burned-out and/or unsatisfied employees at every organization. The pandemic and the "great resignation" have only made this more pronounced. Quiet quitting—and low morale in general—affects recruitment and retention. It also impacts productivity and efficiency on an organizational level.Quiet quitting graphicRather than villainizing quiet quitting, Human Resource teams can use these signals to come up with thoughtful ways to better connect and align with employee needs. This can be done through changes in a company's work culture or refreshing employee benefits.

7 Ideas to Curb Quiet Quitting

Here are seven ideas to consider to improve your employees' work experience:

1. Understand Employee Morale

Have a clear understanding of employee opinions and morale at your organization. Anonymous surveys can give you a look into employee satisfaction, burnout, and what tools or benefits might be the most well-received. The surveys will give you baselines of employee morale and satisfaction and allow you to set realistic goals for improvement.

2. Assess Your Company Culture of Working Outside of “Normal” Work Hours

Access to emails, messaging platforms, and project management tools 24/7 helps teams that are spread out to effectively communicate. However, without healthy boundaries, work communication can creep into non-work hours as employees work around real or perceived expectations of responsiveness. Does this align with the goals of your organizational culture? Leadership often sets the tone here. Managers working after-hours can schedule email or Slack messages to be sent during work hours, or they can specify that a response can be provided the next day. Managers should also be aware of employees' workload and deadlines and ensure they don’t frequently need to work late or on the weekends to complete projects.

3. Rethink Your Meetings

A major complaint of many workers is the frequency and length of unproductive meetings. Managers should evaluate whether each meeting is necessary, whether it needs to be longer than 30 minutes (or even 15!), and whether everyone needs to be in the room or on the call. Another idea is to create "no meeting Fridays" (or at least the afternoon) so employees can focus on their work, especially during a busy time, such as tax season for accounting firms. Reducing the number of meetings employees attend, or making select ones optional, allows employees time to focus on other responsibilities.

4. Offer Career Coaching Resources Like Bravely

Organizations usually have workers at all levels of their careers. What may be important to an entry-level Gen Z worker may be different from a Boomer at the top of their career. Offering a coaching solution that can support employees at any level of their careers can be impactful in retaining talent. In the case of quiet quitting, career coaching can help employees navigate setting healthy work/life boundaries without negative impacts to their productivity or career path. It can also help them find paths to re-engage in ways that inspire them.

5. Review Your PTO Policies

Time away from work gives employees a chance to recharge. This could also include providing employees additional PTO as an incentive. Some organizations offer an extra week of vacation and/or a sabbatical for milestone anniversaries, or a “vacation bonus" to use when taking a vacation for a milestone anniversary. Another way to give all employees a chance at an extra day off while promoting connection is making a day of PTO the prize for simple contests. A day off can often be more valuable to employees than small gifts or gift cards.

6. Be Open to Flexibility and Creative Benefits for On-Site Workers

Workers who have remained on-site throughout the last few years have experienced different stressors than employees who have been able to work at home. Employees in a production line or working in a medical setting don't have the flexibility that many desk employees enjoy, and they don’t have the same work-at-home options (or the ability to avoid a commute) that office workers do. At the same time, their jobs are often more physically demanding. Understand the needs of your on-site workers, whether that's altered start times, slightly longer breaks, or a slower pace of work, and see what your company can provide.

7. Evaluate Your Benefits

Benefits provide support to employees, but they aren't effective if they aren't used. Too often, employees only use benefits when they need them most or do not use them at all. Ongoing communication and utilization tracking can help measure if a benefit is the right fit for your employee base.

A Strong Employee Benefits Program Can Boost Morale

There may not be one thing that your organization can do to manage the issue of quiet quitting. However, reviewing your culture so you can best support your employees in our new workforce dynamic will position your business for greater success in the future.

Changing the mindset of how we view quiet quitting is a step in the right direction. Providing employee support and evaluating your benefits to see if they are the right ones can help improve morale and potentially address the concerns of those who are disengaged. Contact your Woodruff Sawyer Employee Benefits representative to talk about how to best ensure your benefits are working effectively.


Table of Contents