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What is quiet quitting, anyway?

On Behalf of | Sep 1, 2022 | Employment Law

The term “quiet quitting” is making its way through workplaces around New York. Employers who familiarize themselves with what it means can make informed employment decisions that protect themselves and their business. 

Signs of quiet quitting

Quiet quitting refers to workers who are no longer interested in going above and beyond on the job. Often, they feel burned out, underpaid or underappreciated. Thus, they deliver the bare minimum job performance.

While some people see this as workers being lazy or unmotivated, the fact is that quiet quitting is often the result of pushing workers too hard or failing to balance job expectations with recognition of employee efforts.

Some signs of quiet quitting include:

  • Increased complaints about the withdrawn employee (e.g., saying they aren’t responding to emails after work hours or projects are taking longer)
  • Lack of input on projects
  • Decreased interest in volunteering for special tasks
  • Withdrawal from optional or unnecessary meetings, correspondence or events
  • Attending meetings without participating

These indicators could signal that a worker is burned out – and checking out. 

How can employers respond?

As an employer, you could decide to let these workers go, even if they are continuing to meet your minimum job requirements. Many employment relationships in this state are at will, meaning an employer can terminate it for any or no reason, as long as it is not illegal. 

On the other hand, if you notice the above behaviors among multiple workers or valued team members, you could use it as an opportunity to examine your workplace culture, policies and compensation. You might consider making changes to address:

  • Toxic work environments
  • Job descriptions and goals
  • Compensation
  • Benefits
  • Schedules and hours
  • Recognition efforts to appreciate work
  • Commitments to diversity

In some cases, you might discover that you can make changes to reinvigorate your workplace or improve the work-life balance of your employees. Doing so could help to address quiet quitting.

One mistake you should avoid is crossing lines that ultimately lead to legal claims. For instance, subjecting the worker to a hostile work environment or withholding pay can trigger lawsuits, so you refrain from these actions. 

It can also be a mistake to overcorrect or overextend your business to try and make workers happy.

Managing your workforce is complicated, but keeping an eye on trends while understanding your legal responsibilities can make it easier.

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