In this article, company formation agent, 1st Formations, discusses what the quiet quitting trend is and what engagement levels look like in the UK workforce. They also explore how employers can protect their business from quiet quitters and turn them into enthusiastic team players.
What is ‘quiet quitting’?
The quiet quitting trend started on social media (more specifically, TikTok) in 2022. Largely fuelled by the pandemic, it grew as people started re-evaluating their priorities, protesting against overworking, and focusing on other forms of self-fulfilment that are more meaningful to them.
Quiet quitting is when workers do the bare minimum to keep their jobs. They don’t work overtime, they don’t volunteer, and they don’t take the initiative to complete additional tasks or responsibilities.
That’s not to say that quiet quitters are bad at their jobs – they are psychologically disengaged and simply only do what is contractually required of them as opposed to doing their best.
This can be particularly problematic for employers as untreated quiet quitting can lead to higher workloads for other employees, burnout, and a wider productivity drop across the business.
The effect of quiet quitting
One of the biggest impacts of quiet quitting is on engagement. It means that employees are emotionally and mentally disconnected from their workplace and daily roles. Let’s take a look at exactly what that means in the context of the UK labour market.
An employee experience study by Culture Amp recorded that the UK had low/average engagement levels (69%) across all industries in 2023. That’s the second-lowest score compared to Australia, Germany, and the US, and a decrease of over 2% since 2022.
This means that around 30% of employees are disengaged and not going above and beyond their specific responsibilities.
The study also found that engagement levels were the lowest in manual industries like Government and Food and Beverage where salaries tend to be low. That’s in contrast to high-engagement industries like Science and Research and Professional Services, which were driven by well-paid workers.
But what are the reasons behind the quiet quitting mentality? The Culture Amp study explored this and found the following culprits:
- Almost half (47%) of global respondents said they feel overstressed by their work
- Almost half (49%) said they are not informed about how pay and promotion decisions in their companies are made
- Almost half (49%) said they haven’t seen any recent positive changes in their workplace
- 50% said they don’t feel that the company does anything about underperforming employees
- And over half (52%) disagreed that their salaries are fair and relative to other similar roles in their industry
How to protect your business from quiet quitters
The good news is that there are many things that employers can do to re-engage quiet quitters and future-proof their businesses from this trend. Here are some of the key steps that you can take to tackle quiet quitting:
Find the source of the problem
If you worry there may be some quiet quitters in your company, the first step is to listen and get to the source of the problem. It’s unlikely that they are merely lazy – you hired them for their skills, after all. Instead, they may be feeling undervalued, ignored, and isolated, so it’s essential to address these issues.
A simple conversation is a great place to start to revive quiet quitters. You can try methods like 1-2-1s, surveys, or casual catch-ups if you’re not already doing so. Meetings can be between employees and managers or team leaders, or between fellow employees to facilitate a safe and trusted environment for self-expression.
Find a system that works within your company culture and try to reinforce healthy and regular communication with your staff. They should be encouraged to discuss:
- What they feel is going well in their roles
- What they’d improve
- How they’d improve it
- What motivated them to accept the job initially
Allow your staff to recharge
One of the leading causes of quiet quitting is feeling stressed and overworked. To combat this, it’s important to give your employees a chance to recharge.
You can encourage this in your workplace through team-building activities. Find a schedule that works for your business and think about introducing regular events like team lunches, games and competitions, or volunteering days. The aim is to get people away from their desks once in a while and let them bond and get creative.
Another option is to equip your office with stress-busting facilities. This could be a dedicated break room, a common area with a TV, or games and books.
You could also look into offering your employees certain benefits that could help them re-energise. For instance, many business health insurance schemes include perks like discounted gym memberships and reduced counselling costs.
Providing access to these types of services can significantly improve their general wellbeing and, therefore, work performance.
Acknowledge and reward achievements
Rewards and recognition are considerable factors that improve overall job satisfaction. To re-engage quiet quitters, they should be valued, appreciated, and rewarded for their efforts. Otherwise, they’ll feel that their extra input doesn’t make a difference and goes unnoticed.
To recognise employees for their work, you can try:
- Simple gestures like sending thanks to employees for their great work
- Appreciation programmes (e.g. employee of the month), awarding top performers with prizes like vouchers, freebies, or event tickets
- Running performance-based schemes, offering rewards to those who reach their individual targets
- Financial remuneration (e.g. a bonus or salary increase)
- Professional development opportunities
Remember that an effective relationship goes both ways. To get the most of out your employees and reduce quiet quitting, they need to know that their efforts matter and that they’re making a difference to the business. In turn, you’re likely to see an increase in motivation, engagement, and mood.
Access your management style
Managers have a huge impact on your employees’ health and poor management is a significant contributor to a quiet quitting culture. To reconnect quite quitters, it’s worth assessing your company’s management style.
A 2023 employee engagement trends report by Reward Gateway highlights that, after fair pay, good leadership is the top workplace must-have. The majority (64%) of UK employees say that having a manager who cares is their top priority.
On top of this, a powerful 93% of respondents said that feeling listened to by their manager is important to their wellbeing.
If you have a larger company where separate teams are run by individual managers, it can be difficult to see exactly how employees are managed. To keep an eye on this, you could start by running a manager skills assessment.
An assessment can help you identify any skills gaps among your managers and develop a plan of action to fill them. If needed, you can then look at providing them with additional training to update their management skills, ensuring that they can effectively lead, motivate, and empathise with their teams.
Create a sense of purpose
Finally, quiet quitting is fuelled by a lack of purpose. So, to get the most of out your employees, it’s important to apply a sense of direction to their roles and responsibilities.
A simple way to achieve this is to hold regular company updates. Whether it’s virtual, face-to-face, or through a PowerPoint presentation, sharing business updates keeps everyone informed and allows them to see the effect that they have on the company.
Another way to create a sense of purpose is to conduct thorough performance reviews. These are typically annual or biannual and are a great way to assess your employees’ progress as well as map out their future goals.
Performance reviews can help quiet quitters understand how their work impacts the organisation and give them targets to aim for.
Quiet quitting is when workers psychologically ‘quit’ their jobs. It means that they don’t go above and beyond for the employer, but rather do the bare minimum that is required of them because they are disengaged.
The quiet quitting trend poses some significant problems for employers as it means that their staff are disconnected from the company and their roles and are unwilling to go the extra mile to benefit the business.
But there are many ways to re-engage and prevent quiet quitting. It’s important to find the main source of the problem, allow workers to recharge and avoid burnout, reward achievements and good performance, assess and update management styles where necessary, and create a sense of purpose.
1st Formations is a top-rated company formation agent in the UK. Having formed over 1 million companies, they provide expert services at competitive prices to help entrepreneurs bring their business ideas to life.