The Potential Underlying Issues Related to “Quiet Quitting”

What Is Quiet Quitting? What Might Quiet Quitting Tell You about Your Employees?

The workplace has always been inhabited by both “go-getters” and “slackers,” those who go the extra mile and put in the extra time, and those who are out the door at the perceived end of the shift. In recent years, though, for a variety of reasons, the numbers of people curtailing their efforts on the job has grown significantly, such that they are now categorized as an identifiable entity—the “quiet quitters.”

What Is Quiet Quitting?

Quiet quitting is characterized by employees who put forth only the minimal effort necessary to retain their jobs. If they have allocated vacation, personal or sick time, they will customarily use all of it. When they are on the job, they’ll generally do the bare minimum, as set forth in any job description. They’ll rarely come to work early, never stay late, never volunteer for overtime and never take any work home with them. They rarely, if ever, engage in work-related discussions, rarely ask questions and rarely make suggestions for improving the work environment.

What Underlying Issues May Manifest in Quiet Quitting?

If, as an employer, you have become aware of employee behavior that may meet the definition of quiet quitting, there are a number of issues of potential concern:

  • Your employees may not be properly classified—Often, the motivating factor behind quiet quitting is the perception by the employee that he or she is not being adequately compensated for his or her time. As an employer, it’s important to confirm that any salaried employees that you expect to be exempt from overtime pay are being paid the minimum salary, as set forth in the Fair Labor Standards Act. Furthermore, you should have confidence that the duties assigned to the potentially salaried employee are consistent with those of an exempt employee. Finally, you’ll want to be certain that the alleged “quiet quitter” is not being paid significantly less than others who have the same job responsibilities.
  • Your employees may be using quiet quitting to work somewhere else during business hours?—This can be a particular problem with employees who telecommute. The most effective way to deal with this is to put expectations for remote workers in writing at the time of hiring.
  • Quiet quitting may be a symptom of problems with employee supervision—Don’t be surprised if, when you seek to take a quietly quitting employee to task for underperformance or lack of initiative, he or she responds that he thought he was doing what was expected and that his or her supervisor never expressed any complaints about performance. Having performance standards and regularly meeting with supervisory personnel can effectively deal with this.


Do You Have Concerns about Quiet Quitting at Your Company?

At Stephen Hans & Associates, our attorneys are glad to answer your questions and provide legal advice. Years of experience have provided us with extensive knowledge regarding employment law, and we have represented numerous employers in matters involving workplace litigation.