How to Deal With Someone Who “Quiets Quietly”

06:00 September 7, 2022

The new social media trend “quit smoking” is gaining popularity. Derin Clark looks at how this could impact businesses and ways to deal with someone who disengages from their job.

A growing number of employees are following a new social media trend called silent quitting, described as retiring from long hours and no longer going beyond their jobs.

First appeared on TikTok, where videos extolled the virtues of having no self-esteem linked to jobs and stating that “work is not life” – the concept has become particularly popular among the generation Z.

However, workers of all ages followed the trend by avoiding unpaid overtime and refusing to accept work outside of their job descriptions.

Silent abandon has become popular with Gen Z, but workers in all age groups are losing interest in their work
– Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

This is no doubt a reaction against the long hours and high workloads that have become common during the pandemic.

On top of that, the big resignation has left many companies short-staffed, with employees taking the jobs of former colleagues without pay raises or promotions.

It’s probably no coincidence that at the same time workers began to quietly quit, stress and burnout became common.

The Gallup State of the Global Workplace: 2022 report found that 39% of employees in Europe experienced a lot of stress the day before.

Meanwhile, only 14% of workers in Europe said they were engaged in their work.

The same report stated: “In one of the largest studies of burnout, Gallup found that the main source was ‘unfair treatment at work’. This was followed by an unmanageable workload, unclear communication from managers, a lack of support from managers and unreasonable time pressure.”

For bosses, the tendency to quit quietly can cause more concern than an employee who simply stops coming into the office early and leaving late.

Often when a worker begins to disengage from their job, they end up quitting for good.

At a time when businesses are struggling with a skills shortage, many businesses cannot afford to lose staff.


The number of vacancies has increased rapidly in recent years, with many companies experiencing skills shortages
– Credit: National Statistics Office

Carole Burman, founder and managing director of East of England HR consultancy MAD-HR, said a disengaged worker is one of the first signs they can quit quietly.

She added: “One of the first steps in dealing with a staff member who seems to be quitting quietly is to ask yourself why that person might be particularly disengaged.

“Although the TikTok phenomenon suggests that this is truly a ‘new trend’, we must remember that it has always been the case that some people will reach a point where they feel undervalued or unable to manage their workload, and will therefore seek to leave or slow down.

“Events such as the pandemic are likely to have made more people question why they are pushing themselves harder than they need to, or why they are striving and stressing when the reward or sense of satisfaction just isn’t there.”

For bosses who think staff can be quiet, Ms Burman recommends looking for ways to re-engage with them.

Carole Burman - Mad HR

Mad HR’s Carole Burman
– Credit: Archant

She said: “Rather than thinking directly about a disciplinary process, if a leader suspects a case of silent resignation, they should instead make every effort to engage with the employee and truly understand what has changed for them, why they feels like they are and if there are any underlying factors that could be rectified.

“It may just be a short-term drop in motivation due to factors outside the home, but if it’s that the staff member feels undervalued or expectations of are just too high for him, so there is a real opportunity for conversation. .

“One of the best things employers can do in the long term is to maintain regular assessments of their company culture and employee experience evaluation.

“This helps identify whether there are cultural factors that can be changed more broadly that can support both recruitment and long-term retention.”

It has long been considered more profitable for companies to keep their employees than to see a revolving door of staff coming and going, so if a worker is showing signs of being calm it may be time to reevaluate how the company engages its workers.

silent shot

A flip side to silent surrender is silent triggering.

In a LinkedIn post, Seattle-based hiring manager Bonnie Dilber said silent firings are “endemic” and “happen all the time.”

She added that this was often due to poor management and workers felt so incompetent, isolated and unappreciated that they left or their performance would drop, causing them to lose their jobs.

Ms Dilber said signs of silent dismissal include not receiving feedback or praise, one-on-one interviews being frequently canceled or rescheduled, not being kept up to date with critical information and managers not discussing never about career progression.

How to Deal With Someone Who “Quiets Quietly”

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