Quiet Quitting

A demotivated worker - quiet quitter - at his desk

When employers are afraid to fire underperformers, they risk having quiet quitters in the team. We call it Quiet Quitting when colleagues are delivering just enough work, negatively affecting other staff’s engagement.

The war on talent is a problem that has been looming for some time. Employers are hesitant to fire staff with an ever-increasing shortage of qualified workers. Managers fear they will be unable to find a new employee when they need one. Recent studies show that in Europe, for example, employers end less than half of the contracts they did in previous years.

The war on talent profoundly impacts the workplace and will likely continue to do so in the future. This can make it difficult for employers to retain good staff. It also makes it hard for employees to plan their careers.

On top of that, we see more and more evidence of employees quitting quietly. Quiet quitting is when an employee doesn’t leave the company but performs just enough work not to get fired. Various factors drive this behavior, such as a bad boss, a toxic work environment, salaries that are perceived as too low, or simply a lack of interest in the job. While quiet quitting may seem like an easy way to coast through a job, it can have harmful consequences. For one, it can lead to lower productivity levels and decreased morale. Additionally, identifying quiet quitters can be difficult, making it hard to address underlying problems.

Ultimately, quiet quitting is a trend that should be monitored closely by employers.

Quiet Quitting is Contagious

The best employees are the ones who are motivated to do their best work. They are the ones who notice when something is wrong and take the initiative to fix it. They are also the ones who are always looking for ways to improve their skills and performance. As a result, they are usually the most successful employees in any organization. Quiet quitters, on the other hand, are the employees who simply do not care about their work. They often coast through their careers without ever really applying themselves. As a result, they are usually less successful than their more motivated counterparts.

However, one of the biggest problems with these engaged employees is that they often become frustrated when they see quiet quitters succeeding. After all, if someone is not doing their best work and yet still managing to keep their job, it can be difficult for a motivated employee to understand why they should bother putting forth extra effort.

This will lead to a decrease in motivation and lower productivity levels for these former high performers.

High performers work at a high level and meet challenges head-on. So when underperformers suddenly surround them, it harms their motivation. While it’s essential for everyone to work together and help each other out, underperformers can drag down the team as a whole.


High performers may feel like they must carry the load and pick up the slack, leading to burnout. In addition, underperformers can create an environment of low standards, making it difficult for high performers to stay motivated. There are a few things we can do, to deal with this growing issue:

  • Create a workspace where location and time no longer limit the number of suitable candidates that can (and want) work for your company. If you’re going to play in the war on talent, extending the playing field beyond the 30-minute commute to your office increases your chances. 
  • Be clear about your company values regarding work ethics and be ready to address those who can’t respect them.
  • Create an environment where your team feels they can express the issues they have with their current job – and help middle managers and team leaders to show empathy in these conversations: this will help the whole organization. It will also create an atmosphere where Millenials and Gen-Z collaborators, who hunger for knowledge and feedback, can thrive.
  • Keep investing in workforce training and activities that allow employees to feel engaged.

This post is also available in: Dutch French

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