Quiet Quitting: The New Employment Fear?

19 December 2022
3 minutes
Employment Law – By Katie Bell

A new term that has emerged from the post-pandemic working world is the act of ‘quiet quitting.’ This term defines employees that no longer wish to work to exceptional standards in their current role and who may only complete the bare minimum to employer expectations.

For employers, this poses numerous issues; firstly, recognising any potential quiet quitters and identifying their concerns, and secondly, dealing with any tensions and stresses that other colleagues may experience if they are picking up the workload of the quiet quitter.

The employer, however, will find detection of a quiet quitter a challenge as this silent act is hard proven unless an employee becomes fully disconnected from the working environment or in worst cases, starts acting out in view of colleagues and employers. Such misconduct is not a risk worth taking with quiet quitting and so the subtle act of slowly preparing to leave the role begins.

Below is a selection of tips for employers to look for:

  • Assessing the overall demand of the workplace: Quiet quitting can be a sign of a demanding workload; employers should not be afraid to assess or reevaluate their own system of distributing a better framework and a more efficient system.
  • Isolation from colleagues and apathy for teamwork: Employers may wish to review the company calendar and plan social events where employees can socialise with colleagues outside of work. This could also mean including charity events into the work calendar that employees can attend and show the appreciation they have for giving back.
  • Minimum effort shown towards performance: A quiet quitter will show signs of withdrawing from the normal effort of the working day. This can be gleaned from individual reviews where productivity and performance feedback are given. Employers can remind employees that there are career progression options, training programs that may be available and discussions of promotion and what employers look for in seeking active promotion. Allowing this information gives the employee ideas about their own work path and where they see themselves in a target setting of months or years.
  • Presenting with burnout and suffering stress: This is a crucial point employers must consider for employees as the physical and mental aspects can lead to illness and severe concern. The employer may review workplace policies on trust of confidence and where they may stand on legal policies in terms of employee health. Below are two main structures employers should be aware of:
    • Working from home (WFH): Employers can review time allowed to disconnect from the workstation and allow time for rest to maintain a balance with the employee’s personal life.
    • Larger companies with WFH & in-office staff: some companies can provide a mix of in-office work and working from home. The employer should remain adaptable and maintain a strong line of communication with useful networks for all employees. In-office employment should be mindful of scheduling meetings or communication outside of working hours. Employers must provide clarity on the working hours structure and distribute workload adequately and allow for a reduced workplace pressure on employees.

With this information in mind, the employer may prevent any sign of quiet quitting in the workplace being reduced and maintain and strong line of communication with everyone. The employer should keep in mind they are the leadership figure in the workplace and remain vigilant that they are providing the same level of care to the employee as to their work.

It is also worth noting that the employer must also acknowledge such workloads can be demanding and at times works levels can become busier than usual, the main point is to allow this to not affect relationships within the workplace and stay in contact with all levels of employees to move through difficult areas as a group with no one left behind to quietly quit.

To discuss any of the issues highlighted in this article, please contact a member of the Employment Law team at MKB Law. Headed by Associate Director, Andrew Lightburn, the team are one of the leading employment firms in Northern Ireland for employers and employees. To find out more about quiet quitting and other new ‘buzzwords’ and concepts relating to employment law, please listen to our latest podcast below:

This article is for general guidance only and should not be regarded as a substitute for professional legal advice.

MKB Law is regulated by the Law Society of Northern Ireland. Content is copyright © MKB Law 2024. Terms & Conditions apply.