Business/Economy

Quiet quitting meets quiet firing

Quiet quitting, the employee behavior pattern that swept through the nation this summer after a viral TikTok video in July, has met its match: quiet firing. Employers, disgusted by employees who consider it justified to do the bare minimum at work, are blessing these employees out the door.

Managers take action

In September 2022, 91% of 1,000 managers surveyed reported taking action against quiet quitters or firing them, ResumeBuilder.com reported. One in three of the surveyed managers reported firing quiet quitters; 75% described firing quiet quitters as justifiable. Managers who didn’t outright fire quiet quitters took other actions: 27% of them denied raises to quiet quitters; 23% denied promotions to quiet quitters. 13% demoted quiet quitters; 12% denied quiet quitters paid time off.

Although 63% of the managers surveyed stated that employees should work to exceed expectations, 58% admitted at least one of their employees does only the bare minimum. In contrast, 89% of these managers reported they personally went “above and beyond” at work.

While 69% the surveyed managers have had formal discussions with their quiet quitter employees, 51% of the managers stated they don’t because they don’t like confrontation. Many of these managers instead responded passive-aggressively, with 31% stating that they made their quiet quitters’ work lives difficult so that they’d leave under their own steam.

Quiet quitter damage

Employees who do the bare minimum justify it, often saying they’re “doing their jobs” and don’t want to “do more because they’re not paid for more.” The problem: While their mediocre performance hurts their employers, it hurts their coworkers as well — twice. Not only do coworkers with work ethic work harder to pick up the slack, but quiet quitters damage the morale of those who take their jobs and their employer’s mission seriously. Even worse, the damaged employer may resort to layoffs to survive.

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Quiet quitting is more than employees setting reasonable boundaries or intentionally putting a hard stop to their work week so they can create work/life balance. Instead, it resembles dry rot that eats away at both its hosts — their employer and the quiet quitters themselves, who withhold their best and avoid stretching their skills and careers.

The solution to quiet quitters

Many managers allow problem employees to slide under the radar because they’re focused on their clients or customers, or the financial and other managerial reports they’re required to submit, and because slacker employees know how to hide their lack of work and engagement under the cover of phony “I’m so overloaded” or “I’m on it!” statements.

Managers who pay attention, however, catch on. Unfortunately, a lot of these managers either avoid confrontation or work harder to fix the problem employee than the problem employee does.

If you’re a manager who avoids conflict

When you avoid conflict, the problem remains. It’s as if you discovered a bowl of moldy salad and left it on the counter, hoping it might turn into something healthy. The best employees working for managers who avoid dealing with underperforming employees leave because they don’t enjoy picking up the slack. Further, other employees lose respect for managers who avoid conflict.

Managers who work harder than their employees to fix things

Who has the greater control over an employee’s willingness to give discretionary effort, to work above and beyond: the manager or the employee? If you answer the employee, you speak reality. Managers who take on the employee’s share of responsibility for underperforming employees forget this reality. Often, they conduct repeated counseling sessions with quiet quitters, striving to help these employees recognize the benefits of work harder, only to watch their efforts fail. Managers who recognize themselves in the above scenario should admit it and bless their quiet quitters out the door — in fairness to their other employees.

If the problem’s the employer

Finally, what if you’ve quietly quit because the real problem is your employer? If you’ve quietly quit because you work for an employer that doesn’t value employees — to the point where you keep your sanity by withholding effort — you should act. Find an employer where you can work hard and enjoy your work, because you’re getting paid what you’re worth while maintaining work/life boundaries that keep you healthy. In other words, don’t quietly quit because your current situation has led you to give up. Leave and find a work environment in which you can thrive.

Lynne Curry | Alaska Workplace

Lynne Curry writes a weekly column on workplace issues. She is author of “Navigating Conflict,” “Managing for Accountability,” “Solutions” and “Beating the Workplace Bully,” and workplacecoachblog.com. Curry is president of Communication Works Inc. Send questions to her at workplacecoachblog.com/ask-a-coach or follow her on Twitter @lynnecurry10.

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