Quiet Quitters – They are at Your Company

The Gallup poll for employee engagement is considered the benchmark. They have been surveying employees’ globally to determine levels of employee engagement since the early 1990’s.

After trending up in recent years, employee engagement in the U.S. has declined over the last several years. In 2020, Gallup showed 36% of employees were engaged which dropped to 34% in 2021. This pattern continued in 2022 with 32% of employees polling as engaged and 18% being actively disengaged.

This is where the quiet quitters come into the mix. Many quiet quitters fit Gallup’s definition of being disengaged at work — people who do the minimum required and are psychologically detached from their job. According to Gallup, this describes over half of the U.S. workforce with 55% being disengaged. Reminder: the 3 categories of engagement are: 1) engaged, 2) disengaged and 3) actively disengaged.
Quiet quitting is a term coined over the last few years and refers to when employees continue to put in the minimum amount of effort to keep their jobs but don’t go the extra mile for their employer. Some signs of a quiet quitter are: not speaking up in meetings, not volunteering for tasks, refusing to work overtime when needed for a project or deadline, greater absenteeism, and/or isolation from the team. Quiet quitters still show up for work, they just check out and do the minimum required to keep their job. They are unhappy with some aspects of their current company or role.

The key to raising their performance level is to determine what motivates them. The other key is making sure you have employees doing the job that they are good at and truly passionate about. Right People, Right Seat is a concept explored in two books I recommend: Good to Great, by Jim Collins, and Traction by Gino Wickman. It’s amazing how many people are in jobs who don’t like what they do. Employees in that situation really can’t be blamed for being disengaged. People spend too much time at work to not enjoy what they do. Try to find a position that aligns with a person’s passions. If that’s not possible at your company, then it might be best that the employee moves to another company that aligns better with their interests.

Managers, when you meet with your employees and talk about how they are doing in their roles, ask them if they enjoy the job they do. If you sense they don’t enjoy the role, ask them what type of role they would truly enjoy. If you can align a person’s passions and their job, something amazing will occur – it will be true engagement. If you can move even one-third of your employees from disengaged to engaged, your employee retention will increase and your overall productivity level will significantly improve.
The actively disengaged group makes up a smaller percentage 18%. They are your typical low performers. They go on and off formal disciplinary action and unfortunately take up a large percentage of your time. They also cause turmoil in the company because they often make mistakes in their jobs, some small, others much larger. With your actively disengaged group, you either coach them up or out. If they are a roller coaster employee continually going on disciplinary action of some type, then improving performance for a few months and then going back down, at some point you need to pull the trigger and release them.

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Small and medium-sized businesses may not have the time or expertise to implement the necessary people strategies for business success. The ideas above can be easily implemented by you to help improve the performance of your employees which leads to increased employee engagement and increasing the bottom line.

We are here to help you with the people side of your business: employee engagement, retention programs, performance management, vision, and strategic plans, leadership development, selection & onboarding, compensations programs, organizational design, employee handbooks, core values, and all things HR-related.