Quiet quitting is a concept that has recently dominated social media culture, and everyone seems to have an opinion on it. It has taken the management world by storm as more companies become aware of and try to prevent it from happening to their team. As a manager, it’s essential to understand what is driving quiet quitting and recognize how to prevent it before it becomes a bigger problem within the company. Spotting the quiet quitter in your office quickly and helping them get back on track can be crucial for your team's morale.

But wait, what's quiet quitting?

Before we dive into how you can spot the quiet quitter in the workspace, let’s discuss precisely what quiet quitting is. The term “quiet quitting” initially took off on TikTok when users discussed feeling burnt out and being fed up with their jobs.

Despite what the term may have you thinking, quiet quitting doesn’t actually mean that employees quit without telling anyone and go to find a job elsewhere. Instead, it’s when employees choose to perform the bare minimum to keep their jobs rather than going the extra mile and putting in their best efforts for their employers. Instead of outrightly quitting, the employee stops taking the initiative and only does what’s required.

This often comes from a change of mindset in the workplace, which comes out of burnout, stress, or demotivation. The American hustle can be draining for individuals, and it’s easy for employees to reach a point where they no longer feel like giving their all to their jobs. When you have employees feeling down on their mental health, bringing that to work and displaying it through quiet quitting, it can have consequences for the whole team and, ultimately, the company.

How to spot the quiet quitter

Fortunately, you can spot the quiet quitter and get ahead of it before the situation escalates. Although the signs may be minor at first, figuring out who the quiet quitter is in your team still possible if you know what you should be looking out for. Being aware of subtle cues that signal something is wrong in the workplace can help you spot the quiet quitters early on and take preventive actions. Here are some changes and behaviors to look out for:


Disengagement can take the form of employees talking less in team meetings, being more quiet and acting disinterested. More often, it’ll manifest in the employee skipping out on non-mandatory events and no longer taking initiative or participating in the workplace. They’ll still be showing up to work and doing their job but they won’t be doing their best — or anything extra. If this is uncommon in your workplace and you start seeing it more and more, you can take preventive measures by motivating your employees.

You want to understand what will enhance and boost engagement, but you also want to understand what causes a lack of motivation in your employees. Ensure that there’s a fine mix of professional and fun events at the workplace to prevent employees from getting bored. But the big thing? Keep your employees from reaching burnout. Disengagement can be a sign of burnout in the workplace, so make sure your employees are taking time off, encourage remote and in-office employees to take breaks and check in with them to ensure they aren't overworking themselves to the point of burnout.

How to Avoid Burning Out

How To Lead By Example

Increased time off

When work becomes a negative place for employees, they avoid going to the office as much as possible. Although taking time off isn’t always a sign of quiet quitting, if you notice that an employee is taking more time off than is normal and you’re receiving more sick notes, it’s likely a sign that an employee is quietly quitting. If employees become unusually sick and ask for paid time off, are absent from the office, or are showing up late, it might be a good idea to schedule a one-on-one meeting. You can show compassion and ask them how you can help during this time. Prevention is key, so getting ahead and addressing the problem is important.

Teammates report extra work

If you notice that other employees are coming to you and reporting an increased workload, this could be a sign that someone on the team is quietly quitting. When people are quiet quitters, they tend to stop doing everything except the baseline expectations in their job contracts. This means that, rather abruptly, they’ll stop doing anything they’re not mandated to do. When that happens, their teammates are usually the ones picking up the slack. Catch this early on and ensure that you ask whose job they’re picking up, and then talk to the employee who has started dropping responsibilities. And remember: the point isn't to reprimand, but rather come from a place of concern and understanding. The goal is to get employees to perform their best again, not to make them feel worse.

Cynical and checked out

Have you noticed a particular employee is negative and cynical about everything? Maybe you’ll notice that a typically outgoing and happy employee suddenly appears checked out and depressed. It’s important to remember that bad days are normal for everyone in the workplace and aren’t normally a cause for concern — but if an employee shows continual signs of unhappiness, they might be quiet quitting. Watch for employees who make frequent negative comments and are noticeably unhappy throughout the day. If this starts happening, schedule time to talk to this employee and see what’s going on and what changes can be made. Negative energy is contagious, and making sure every employee feels their best is the best way to help your team to function well.

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