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7 major signs of quiet quitting to be aware of

Published:

June 20, 2023

Updated:

June 20, 2023

When people are dissatisfied with their job, they have several options. They can either discuss with their manager, send their resignation letter, or show signs of quiet quitting. The last option, also called “silent quitting”, is, we believe, the worse as it affects both employees and companies

Team members are unhappy with their professional lives. Therefore, they stop performing their job as effectively as they usually would. This has significant consequences on their mental health, the whole team, and the company.

So, how do you know if some of your staff are in this position? What are the signs of silent quitting? Disengagement is undoubtedly one of them. Quiet quitters are still employed on paper. But in their head, they feel disconnected from the workplace and do the strict minimum required to get a salary at the end of the month.

Yet, disengagement isn’t the only shift that should ring a bell in managers' heads. Repetitive sick notes can signal that something isn’t going right at work, too. Detecting these cues enables HR professionals to address employee concerns, boost retention, and maintain a positive and healthy work environment

Thus, let’s discover what behaviors can be related to a quiet quitting issue among your workforce.

1. A drop in engagement can be a sign of quiet quitting

Disengagement can take various forms. Disengaged employees are quieter in team meetings, stop taking the initiative, don’t participate in non-mandatory events, etc. They do the bare minimum required on their contract and don’t bother going the extra mile. If this behavior is uncommon among your workforce but starts to appear, it can be a sign of quiet quitting. Your goal as an HR manager is to boost and motivate workers. To do so, not only do you have to know what enhances engagement, but you also have to understand what triggers this lack of enthusiasm and motivation. 

Disengagement is also a sign of employee burnout. For them as much as for the business, it is crucial that your staff don’t reach this point. This is why you need to know the cues of quiet quitting and tackle the issue as soon as possible.

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2. Increased absenteeism, sick notes, or Paid-Time Off should draw your attention

When people don’t feel good at work, they usually try to avoid working and going to the office as much as possible. Do you receive sick notes more often? Are some team members regularly absent or asking for Paid-Time Off (PTO)? 

This can also be a sign of quiet quitting in the workplace. 

If one of your employees has been unusually sick over the last few months, organizing a one-to-one meeting to discuss it might be a good idea. Like disengagement, regular absences and sick notes can also indicate f burnout. 

The goal is, of course, not to blame the person, but really to be employee-centric and show compassion. Try to understand if something deeper forces them to avoid the workplace. Maybe their health is more fragile than others, but they are very happy about their job. Yet, as the saying goes: “prevention is better than cure”.

3. A withdrawal from social interactions can be proof of disconnection

Whether your team members are extroverts or introverts, you should see a difference in their social interactions if they quit quietly. For example, they might stop participating in team events, be quiet in in-person and online conversations, or switch off their cameras during virtual meetings. If they usually don’t do that, and it lasts, you need to start digging into it to find out why they put themselves apart from the rest of the team. It doesn’t necessarily mean their dissatisfaction or unhappiness at work comes from their relationships with their colleagues. Isolation is just a common reaction when people don’t feel well. 

Here again, the causes are unique to each person. The only way you can help them is to talk about it and try to find solutions together.

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an employee working alone, sad.

4. An unwillingness to come to the office

Allowing flexible work arrangements such as hybrid work or flex time schedules is great for employee experience, work-life balance, job satisfaction, productivity, and much more. Yet, it also makes it easier for unhappy employees to isolate themselves, avoid the physical workplace and quit quietly.

This sign of quiet quitting is mainly visible if you embrace a flexible way of working, where team members can choose when and how often they come to the office. If you see that they come less and less often, you might want to try to understand why. 

Again, their reasons might have nothing to do with the job or the workplace itself. It can be that something has changed in their personal lives, and it’s easier for them to do remote work. It can also be an indication that they try to avoid the office because something is bothering them on a professional level.

5. An increase in complaints can be a cue of an unhealthy situation

As an HR professional, you are usually one of the people in the company whom employees talk to when they have something to complain about. It can be through anonymous feedback forms, a direct e-mail, or a discussion in the middle of the corridor.  Constructive feedback is essential for helping a business to grow and a team to thrive. Yet, it is important to know how to differentiate workers who have a tendency to grumble about anything and everything in the office and complaints that require closer attention. If you notice that you receive more complaints than usual, it is a sign something isn’t right. The little light in your brain should switch from green to orange. By tackling the issue early, you avoid it turning red, and you are in alert mode. In other words, you do what you can to prevent quiet quitting to start in your workforce.

➡️ Learn more about toxic work culture and its impact on your business!

6. An indifference towards results is an explicit example of quiet quitting

Employees who are happy and satisfied with their job want to be part of the business growth and care about it. However, quiet quitters don’t care as much if their team thrives and the company does well and expand. 

They don’t have the will or motivation to go the extra mile and take the initiative. When people reach the stage of quiet quitting, they do the strict minimum required. If the outcomes don’t match their boss’ expectations, it isn’t their problem. They’ve done what they were requested to do.

This is a sign of a deep loss of workplace connection. Your role is to figure out why what initially motivated these employees no longer does. Have something happened with their manager or their colleagues? Is the job not meeting their needs? Does your corporate culture and values still resonate with them?  

Such a change in your team members’ behaviors doesn’t happen overnight and without any reason.

Understanding the causes of this disconnection is fundamental to preventing the situation from escalating and fixing the core issue.

woman looking outside a window at work, looking sad and depressed.

7. A decline in work quality and performance is a clear alert that something is happening

A continuous decline in staff performance and work quality should also set off a warning bell. First, it can have a damaging impact on the company’s success and growth. Second, it can indicate a deeper problem, forcing people to quit if they don’t have another solution. 

All the signs of quiet quitting mentioned above lead to decreased work quality and performance. For example, employees might start to be less productive, have a drop in their output, or finish projects late. As a result, their work quality declines, affecting other team members.  Quiet quitters’ behaviors impact collaboration, common projects, work relationships, and the overall success of the team and the company.

The quiet quitting phenomenon proves the importance of a strong corporate culture and an employee-centric approach. It’s important to consider the potential consequences of having unhappy employees who are disengaged from their work but don’t express their concerns. This can lead to serious issues for your business. There are multiple reasons employees may quit quietly. Each individual may have their own unique explanation. Comprehending the root cause of this problem to address it effectively is fundamental. Familiarizing yourself with the common indicators is a good first step, but we suggest reviewing our previous article on quiet quitting for more information.

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Sources:

7 major signs of quiet quitting to be aware of

Paulyne Sombret

Paulyne is a highly respected expert in hybrid work. She's known for her writing on sustainability in the hybrid office, flexible work models, and employee experience. With a strong background in content and SEO, her work explores the exciting trends and latest news in the world of work.

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