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What is ‘Quiet Quitting’ and How Should Workplaces Respond?

BY: Hanna Riley // Marketing Manager • WELCOA

The buzz phrase ‘quiet quitting’ has been trending on social media and it’s starting some important conversations from all different perspectives. The workplace landscape is changing and employers must choose how to respond in the moment and for the long haul. Here’s what workplaces need to consider.

What is Quiet Quitting?

While the buzz phrase ‘quiet quitting’ seems new, the concept is not. Unlike outright quitting, quiet quitting is essentially dissatisfied or burned-out employees putting forth the minimum effort necessary in order to keep their jobs. For some, this is presented as mentally checking out from work and disengaging. For others, it is more about maintaining a boundary of not accepting additional work without additional pay, and only performing the job duties within their job description.

For any number of reasons, many employees are taking this approach as a means of taking a stand against increasing demands in workplaces that provide minimal support for employee well-being.

While there is a perception that all employees who take the quiet quitting approach are entirely disengaged, the reality is that many of these employees are so engaged and determined to have the workplace experience they deserve that they’re quiet quitting as a means of drawing boundaries and fighting for that outcome.

How Did We Get Here?

While disengagement and job dissatisfaction aren’t new, the trend of ‘quiet quitting’ and being outspoken about it on social media as a means of demanding more from workplaces is and we saw it coming. The COVID-19 pandemic and massive shift of workplaces adopting work-from-home models helped many employees realize that their work experience could be damaging their well-being and that they deserve better. It also changed the workplace dynamic as remote work provides fewer boundaries of when work starts and stops and made it easier for employees to feel less involved or connected to a team and to disappear into the background.

Then began the corporate cynicism trends on social media. Dissatisfied employees took to social media to share their experiences and as the trend took platforms by storm, the whole world woke up to realize that they aren’t alone in their dissatisfaction and burnout at work. Gallup’s 2022 State of the Global Workplace Report showed high rates of daily worry, anger, sadness, and stress worldwide. In addition, approval of Labor Unions is at its highest point (68%) since 1965, potentially due to the rising awareness of poor workplace experiences.

So why is this workplace experience so common? What it boils down to is employers who focus solely on their bottom line, don’t prioritize employee well-being as a business objective, and don’t equip themselves to adjust to the changing workplace landscape aren’t positioned to address workplace satisfaction and employee well-being.

How Should Workplaces Respond?

Assess the Health of Your Workplace

If a workplace notices quiet quitting, job dissatisfaction, and disengagement as current challenges or potential threats, the first thing to do is take a step back and assess the health of the organization at every level. A perfect place to start is by taking the Well Workplace Checklist to assess strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for growth in the culture of an organization.

Create an Ecosystem that Supports Employee Well-Being and Engagement

Once you have a full picture of the health of your business or organization, you can then begin taking action to improve areas of weakness and build out a pathway to prioritizing employee well-being and job satisfaction at every level of the organization through the 7 Benchmarks Well Workplace Process.

This includes:
  1. Establishing Committed and Aligned Leadership
  2. Creating Collaboration in Support of Well-Being
  3. Collecting Meaningful Data to Evolve a Wellness Strategy
  4. Crafting an Operating Plan
  5. Choosing Initiatives that Support the Whole Employee
  6. Cultivating Supportive Health Promoting Environments, Policies, and Practices
  7. Conducting Evaluation, Communicating, Celebrating, and Iterating
We’ve seen firsthand that the companies that follow this process and prioritize employee well-being are outperforming their peers. A study done in collaboration between WELCOA and the Returns on Wellbeing Institute found that focusing on employee well-being can help companies become more competitive and meet business challenges.

What WELCOA is Doing to Help

We’ve seen that businesses struggle to conceptualize and implement an effective well-being strategy. WELCOA provides the pathway to design, implement and sustain high-impact organizational development. We are also continually looking into the future, capturing data, and conducting research to ensure that we are ahead of trends like quiet quitting and that employers are equipped to adapt with the times.

We provide everything you need to make that happen:
  • Live Events: Virtual events that bring together the industry’s best experts, deliver timely and relevant research, and elevate the voice of exceptional companies and their professionals.
  • Well Workplace Process™ and Awards: WELCOA’s Seven Benchmarks™ provide proven methodology for building an effective corporate wellness strategy. Receive national recognition of your organization’s commitment to success using WELCOA’s 7 Benchmarks.
  • Well Workplace Checklist: This highly analytical tool measures an organization’s alignment with WELCOA’s Seven Benchmarks™. The assessment provides dynamic reporting, trend analysis, with relevant scoring based on your industry, region, and size.
  • WELCOA Institute: On-demand certifications and training with more than 40 courses, many approved for continuing education units for SHRM, HRCI, and NCEC.
  • WELCOA Community: A monthly, virtual group to network with wellness and HR professionals across the industry to amplify your professional development.
  • WELCOA Select: The first and only vendor selection tool that leverages insights from WELCOA analytics and its member community.
  • Resources and Toolkits: Grab and go guidance to keep you moving forward. Explore over 400 tools including on-demand surveys, expert interviews, case studies, member spotlights, and quick guides.
  • Expert On Demand: Leveraging the Legal Help Desk, you can access the expertise of corporate wellness attorney, Barbara Zabawa. More experts coming soon!
Access to the WELCOA platform offers a systematic, data-driven process to evaluate organizational health and deliver step-by-step guidance to design work for employee well-being. Get started with us today.

Hanna Riley
ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR Hanna Riley // Marketing Manager • WELCOA
Hanna brings a unique perspective to WELCOA through her eclectic history in wellness, healthcare, personal training, human resources and marketing. She has been in the shoes of WELCOA’s members and understands the challenges that they face. Hanna holds a BS in Kinesiology and Health Promotion. Her greatest passion is for the whole world to be well, and to help others rise through sharing stories, and fostering connection.