Skip to content

Quiet-quitting and the art of employee engagement

Time to engage

Quiet quitting has become almost the most talked about phenomenon among those who prefer speaking about employee related subjects or current trends in the HR Space. Its rather alliterative nature has sent it right to the top amongst commonly spoken about subjects like ‘The Great Resignation’ which the pandemic helped accelerate. The Great Resignation evolved even further as people realized that mobility in the market is readily available and just like that, quiet quitting has taken the main stage as technological changes to the workplace and hybrid working has left people thinking more about themselves, where they stand in negotiations with their employers and what their true perception towards their companies really is.


Through this blog I hope to share how strategic use of employee engagement can bring the positive out of quiet-quitting and alleviate some of the common misconceptions that are being thrown out there as this concept grows into its own.


Quiet QuittingAlliterations like ‘Quiet Quitting’ helps the concept easily assimilate into our brains and the processing fluency comes with us believing in its truth more than we should according to research done on processing fluency. Many of us without being able to do enough research would read the term ‘Quiet Quitting’ and instantly think ‘Quietly Quitting’ ones job and doing just enough to get by, completely detaching oneself from the workplace and taking advantage of the work from home or hybrid work model to achieve exactly this. However, opposing views for those who would take some more time to understand this concept identify opposing views which do not point to doing the bare minimum but actually doing what is contractually required but not more. 


This very concept has a lot to do with employee engagement. According to Gallup, who gave over 50 years of employee engagement research under their belt, they report that only 15% of employees worldwide fall in the ‘engaged’ category. While the number itself points to a rather gloomy outlook on employee engagement, we at HR Plus love seeing statistics like this because it reinforces to us that there is an 85% gap to fill when it comes to employee engagement.


Another rather ‘new phenomenon’ as mentioned is the Great Resignation, which definitely does not sound as cool as Quiet Quitting but has been characterized by much of mainstream media as a post COVID incident. In 2021, 48 million workers in America resigned. But this isn’t a new phenomenon as we would expect it to be, because resignation rates have been increasing almost year on year at the same rate. However, with quiet quitting, the numbers do not seem good for businesses because of the knock on effects. Leaders would be worried to know that only 15% of their employees are engaged and taking much of the burden that the 85% are not being able to put in. This points to one item that comes to the fore, a loss of your best talent. 


So how did we really get to such a point where the numbers are so staggering? It is almost impossible to think of a world where we may reach the majority of employee populations in respective organizations as engaged. However, it is time businesses understood the importance of imbedding humanity as a core value. The simple value for human life, not employee life but human. Much of the work employees do nowadays require brain power, not physical labor where people do the work, people internally feel that because they only have to utilize the muscles between their ears, they ARE the work essentially. We need to think of the role and mentality of a volunteer to understand what we are looking for when we mention ‘humanity’. We are looking to motivate people through pure purpose and giving them a belief that their time is worthy of a cause. The money, no matter how great or small, is a by-product of that. Not the sole aim of coming to work. Reality will always kick in, pay packages, benefits, monetary gains will only go so far until their returns are diminishing. It is also not-sustainable to just have that as a way to keep employees going because it will almost never be enough. This is why feeding into greed might not be the answer the approach is simply not authentic enough.


What should the approach for organizations be then? Treat employees as human beings, not just parties to a contract or those who need to be rewarded for doing their part in the production line. Humans have a range of needs that need to be fulfilled and the key word here is holistic treatment of the person.


humanize workplaceMany times we see offices going through modernization, relocations or revamps. Company leaders are trying to ‘humanize’ the workplace by adding glossy furniture, beautiful views, games or activities within the workspace and at the same time install cubicles that mimic what everyday work life truly is. This conflicting approach does have its little benefits but again, bridging these two worlds have no true purpose behind them. They do not send a strong enough message and intrinsic feeling across to their employees because there is no inner drive being cultivated.


We need to focus on building genuine trustworthy relationships in the office. If humans are inherently selfish, how can we expect them to be motivated by telling them that increasing shareholder value is how we will define the success of our company. There is rarely any connection between shareholders and employees, where most of the time shareholders are other entities with no face attached to them. The same way this example is used is the reason we cannot rely on using abstract concepts to motivate employees. They need to be viewed as much more than what their job responsibilities stipulate in the employment contract, it needs to go further than that. 


Having an engagement system in place where employees can uplift one another sends out a sense of collectivism and camaraderie which can go a long way. This would be a space where people can hold each other accountable, visualize individual and organizational impact while being rewarded both materialistically and intrinsically at the same time. 


employee engagementThe key here is to step away from artificial attributes of what makes a company and its people engaged. Increasing shareholder value or company stock should be seen as a by-product of the collective effort of reaching the company’s true purpose but not as the only goal. The same way one of the most famous Indian movies to come out of Bollywood, 3 Idiots tries to teach us, pursue excellence and purpose, not just money. Yes there are a variety of factors that could impact your employees, some would be motivated by nothing more than a fat paycheck and some would really buy into your company aspirations, but the key is to strive towards an environment that embraces authenticity of the person and not just the employee that comes to work.


We hope this read was insightful and inspiring in some way. It is topics like these that we debate at the workplace which keep us going. Till next time..