Understanding and interrupting the Quiet Quit

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The Quiet Quit has hit a nerve with many of my peers. Suddenly, employees who have average annual reviews and are doing the job “just fine” are being looked at with a magnifying glass. “Are they quiet quitting?” The term, is believed to have originated by the Chinese hashtag #TangPing, which means “lying flat”. It gained its rise in popularity as a result of workers expressing lowering job satisfaction and an emergence of new priorities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But somehow the cause of the Quiet Quit has been lost, or perhaps ignored. Many managers perceive this as an individual’s problem. Instead of asking, “How might we improve job satisfaction for our teams?” many view the Quiet Quit as nothing more than laziness. Some assume their people will give the minimum effort required because it’s easier than working hard. Most aren’t taking a closer look at their own organizational culture in an effort to understand why people may be feeling less enthused about their work.

Getting to the “why” of the Quiet Quit

Before leaders can interrupt the Quiet Quit phenomenon, it’s important to understand it. This next phase of the Great Resignation is not bred from a culture of laziness or a generation who “doesn’t know the meaning of hard work.” After all, the pandemic didn’t cause people to become lazy. There were lazy people 1,000 years ago, just as there are today. Rather, the Quiet Quit comes from a generation of workers who have worked long after quitting time for decades. It comes from a hustle culture that was hammered into the heads of employees who thought the only way they could succeed was to sacrifice their personal interests and time with loved ones. And it took a pandemic for them to realize what’s really important.

If working more than a 40-hour week has no impact on the quality of the work completed and doesn’t bring someone satisfaction or recognition for their efforts, why do it?

This shift in priorities started with the Great Resignation and now its evolving into a means of survival. Many are doing what’s required, and nothing more, to stay employed because the rewards don’t outweigh the effort. And, as soon as a new opportunity with a better work culture comes along, these Quiet Quitters will be gone.

Stopping the Quiet Quit in its tracks

So how can leaders interrupt the Quiet Quit? First, remember how it all started—lowering job satisfaction and shift in priorities. By taking a closer look at employee loyalty and engagement as well as leadership and culture effectiveness, organizations can begin to formulate a plan. A decrease in job satisfaction impacts the connection between a person and the organization. With data, leaders can shine a light on opportunities for improvement.

Additionally, remember leaders are the culture carriers of the organization. Identifying areas of disconnection between the culture and leadership is as important as the connection between leaders and teams. Take a moment to review your organization’s values and consider the following:

  • Do I embody these values at work?
  • When did I last see or experience one of these values in action?

Leaders who take a hard line on ignoring the Quiet Quit will be in for a shock. Unwillingness to learn why workers aren’t “giving their all” will result in losing top talent. However, leaders who want to improve job satisfaction and build engagement and loyalty, have an opportunity to interrupt the Quiet Quit and build an effective culture where the best and brightest want to be.

ADVISA helps organizations identify opportunities to improve performance and organizational capabilities as well as leadership capabilities and loyalty. If you would like to learn how, reach out. We would appreciate the opportunity to learn more about your organization.


Interested in reading more about hustle culture and redefining work post-pandemic? You’ll enjoy Leadership Consultant Mandy Haskett’s column from the Indianapolis Business Journal, “Moving Beyond Hustle Culture.”

Additionally, check out “Be the Organization People Love not the One People Leave” by ADVISA’s President, Heather Haas.