How many times have you heard the phrase ‘quiet quitting’ recently?

Chances are, more than a few. It’s the latest buzz in the business world, but what does it mean?

In essence, it refers to people becoming less productive at work. Quiet quitters gradually pull back and drop their productivity, usually due to low motivation.

Some, especially younger people, argue that this is simply about no longer going above and beyond, which should be celebrated rather than feared. As one professional wrote on the r/antiwork subreddit, quiet quitting is simply “doing the job you were hired for, at the pay you negotiated. And nothing more.”

According to Bloomberg, CEOs at many companies are in a “state of fear” about its development. Now, they’re activating a raft of measures to restrict it. These, however, tend only to reduce people’s motivation further, driving them from businesses, fueling the Great Resignation, and making the competition for talent even more heated.

Here at HiBob, CEO Ronni Zehavi sees things differently. He says, “it’s not about quiet or quitting. It’s about what managers need to do in order to avoid getting to that point.”

When businesses put their people first with effective retention strategies, their internal culture and efficiency improve. Even more importantly, their customers feel it, too. In the words of Simon Sinek, “Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.”

Ultimately, the answer to solving quiet quitting is boosting employee satisfaction. The happier your people are at work, the more engaged they’ll be. A boost in productivity will come naturally.

#1: Start from the very top

From C-levels to managers and everyone else, employee satisfaction starts with putting people first and showing them you care.

Keeping your people happy can mean providing more flexible options like hybrid or remote work, supporting a healthy work-life balance, building teams with good chemistry, or giving your people more autonomy. Leading from the front also means making sure you’re not actively sidelining any team members in what many are calling quiet firing.

In return, your people will be more engaged, and their output will improve in quantity and quality—without needing to go beyond their job description or normal work hours.

#2: Identify signs of burnout

It’s far easier to address issues before they become chronic. Once quiet quitting is on the table, it’s likely that you’ve already missed plenty of opportunities to identify and resolve a problem.

That means learning how to identify signs of burnout in your teams is essential. It can be surprisingly subtle and slow to develop, so it’s up to HR leaders, managers, and senior executives to regularly check in with your people and identify areas for improvement.

Ask yourself: What’s demotivating your people? It could be anything from your policies, company culture, or a lack of challenge in their roles. Talk to your teams at regular intervals, conduct regular anonymous pulse surveys, and encourage them to provide clear and open feedback in one-on-one meetings to be sure you can pick up on signs of burnout before it takes effect.

#3: Give regular recognition

No matter how senior their role is, people always respond to recognition. Equally, when people feel unappreciated, their enthusiasm, happiness, and productivity will likely decline. Like in many things, people tend to give back what they receive.

As an HR leader, it’s your responsibility to support managers to help their people feel included, heard, and an integral part of the team. That means instilling cultural patterns such as awards, moments for recognition, and even kudos-giving between colleagues—these can all make a real difference.

When they feel valued, people put more into their work—but it all depends on the company culture you create.

#4: Focus on trust

The cornerstone of a healthy work culture is trust. It’s an astonishingly powerful motivator and a key contributor to people feeling empowered, valued, and treated with respect.

Empower your people to drive their own decision-making, and they will feel greater ownership over their work and its outcomes. They’ll feel more connected to your wider organizational goals and see themselves as an important piece of the puzzle. When people understand that they can make decisions and create a real impact at their place of work, their trust in the organization will grow.

#5: Invest in development

No one likes to feel that they’re going nowhere. And for many professionals, a lack of motivation can be caused by boredom or the absence of challenge at work.

An effective learning and development program goes a long way to addressing this and significantly influences persuading people to stay in their roles. It improves their satisfaction, gives them something to look forward to, and helps them see a longer-term future at your company.

When you invest in people, they’ll invest in you.

Keeping your people engaged

At the end of the day, quiet quitting is just another new buzzword. Depending on who you ask, it can mean employee disengagement or employee dissatisfaction.

The key is to steer clear. To avoid losing talent and the struggle to compete in the recruitment marketplace, HR leaders need to invest time and resources in keeping their teams happy and motivated about their jobs. 

You can boost satisfaction, loyalty, retention, and productivity by offering wide-ranging learning programs, listening carefully, watching for burnout, and placing trust in your people. After all, when people get to do what they love in a great environment, work doesn’t feel like work. And going above and beyond comes easily.

Tali Sachs

From Tali Sachs

Tali is a content marketing manager at HiBob. She's been writing stories since before she knew what to do with a pen and paper. When she's not writing, she's reading sci-fi, snuggling with her cats, or singing at an open mic.