UCL School of Management

20 September 2022

Is quiet quitting worse than the great resignation?

Quiet quitting illustration, workplace burnout, work life balance

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the great resignation was the main concern for employers with many struggling to manage such high turnover rates. But now, leaders are facing a new challenge, “quiet quitting”. Writing for the Harvard Business Review, Anthony Klotz and his co-author Mark Bolino explain the implications of quiet quitting and the best strategies for leaders to manage this new phenomenon.

Although driven by many of the same reasons as the great resignation, the new trend of quiet quitting brings much more nuanced challenges for leaders than those associated with resignations. Anthony explains that quiet quitters will continue at an organisation and fulfil their primary responsibilities, but will no longer go above and beyond and are less willing to engage in citizenship behaviours, such as staying late, showing up early or attending non-mandatory meetings.

Whilst this may seem reasonable, as employees are not bound to do more than their job descriptions dictate, this has many negative implications for companies. Anthony explains that not all duties and aspects of a role can be defined in a formal job description or contract, in fact, many organisations need employees to engage in citizenship behaviours to create a competitive advantage.

For most leaders quiet quitting is far more detrimental to an organisation than a person resigning, as they remain in post, but their lack of engagement within the organisation increases the workload on their colleagues.

Anthony offers three top tips for leaders to prevent quiet quitting; refine core job tasks, listen and then invest and lastly, less hustling – more crafting. The pandemic has reshaped how businesses operate so now is an opportune time to redefine employees’ core job responsibilities and what qualifies as “extra work”. Following on from this, leaders must listen to their employees and understand their needs, do they want more money, more responsibility or simply a flexible schedule? Organisations can then invest in individual employees’ needs at a personalised level. Finally, Anthony suggests leaders can encourage employees to pursue citizenship crafting, where they can prioritise citizenship behaviours that align with their own motivations and needs. This can re-energise the workforce and prevent fatigue and burnout.  

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Last updated Tuesday, 20 September 2022