Quiet Quitting

The concept of quiet quitting, like the great resignation and the hybrid work model before it, has recently become a hot topic of conversation. From what our team has read online, typical posts or articles do not allow for enough nuance or confuse different scenarios, so we would like to expand on the concept and delve deeper.

To those in the HR profession, this is not a new phenomenon but an old problem, given fresh branding. Previously referred to most often as “quit and stay,” it is one of the last steps in employee disengagement. It describes a scenario in which an employee stops performing most or all their job duties while continuing to receive a paycheck. It is worth noting that this can happen to employees who go to the office and those who work remotely. In many cases, these employees anticipate that they will eventually be let go and may even hope that a supervisor will bypass proper performance management and terminate them without cause. In this case, they might expect to receive a few weeks’ pay as notice (and possibly a severance package) instead of being released with cause for poor performance.

Employers work hard to avoid this situation, as it results in wasted pay with no return and is also incredibly demotivating for other employees on the team, who are usually very aware that this employee is no longer pulling their weight.

employee sitting as keyboard

Scaling Back for Work/Life Balance

Many posts, comments, and articles have come out as described above with the concept of scaling back to achieve work/life balance. Essentially, it’s the process whereby employees feel their workload has vastly exceeded what they can reasonably accomplish in a regular workweek and ceases performing some aspect(s) of their job duties to regain control.

This behaviour creates different problems, leading to employee disengagement and resignation if they believe they’re being taken advantage of. Each industry has its norms, and there are different expectations for positions with varying responsibilities and output levels. Legislatively, some positions are overtime-eligible, meaning overtime should be recognized and paid or banked if that is an option, and some (typically managerial) are not overtime-eligible, with some element of overtime expected from time to time.

Ways to Prevent Quiet Quitting

Patrick Lencioni, author of “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” has a podcast called “At the Table with Patrick Lencioni.”  In episode 144 of this podcast, he does an excellent job discussing the concept of quiet quitting. At about 16 minutes long, it is a well-balanced assessment from an expert that considers the responsibilities of employers and employees in various possible scenarios.

Essentially, he advises leaders and organizations to consider what they might be doing to encourage quiet quitting. He has found that people want three things from their job: to feel known by their manager, to understand how their job matters, and to have some indication of whether they are succeeding.

Employers should ensure that their organizations and leaders cover those elements and are doing their part. If they are doing those three things and an employee is still quietly quitting, we agree with Patrick’s advice: help them quit for good – they are probably not someone you want in your organization, and entitlement may be an issue.

Suppose employees don’t feel valued by an employer or are being taken advantage of by a manager with unreasonable expectations. In that case, the advice given to the employee (paraphrased) is to speak to their manager. If this advice doesn’t remedy the situation, look for a new opportunity, but show integrity by working until they resign.


This issue is complex, but at the same time, it isn’t.  Leaders should consider their actions, the employees’ perspective, corporate culture, and workload by comparison (taking into account skills and ability), among other factors.  We recommend short-format quarterly performance reviews with frequent coaching sessions and one-on-one check-ins to help prevent these scenarios.

If you have questions about Quiet Quitting or other HR-related issues, please call Tenfold HR Solutions today.

image showing exhausted employee