Quiet quitting is a new name for an old behavior. It does not mean an employee has left their job rather, the employee has limited their tasks to those strictly within their job description to avoid working longer hours. Quiet quitters want to do the bare minimum to get the job done and set clear boundaries to improve work-life balance. These employees are still fulfilling their job duties but not subscribing to the ‘work is life’ culture to guide their career and stand out to their superiors. They stick to what is in their job description and when they go home, they leave work behind them and focus on non-work duties and activities.

A survey conducted by a team of researchers from Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) revealed that quiet quitting is usually less about an employee’s willingness to work harder and more creatively, and more about a manager’s ability to build a relationship with their employees.

The researchers took a look at data gathered since 2020 on 2,801 managers, who were rated by 3,048 direct reports. Averagely, each manager was rated by five direct reports. The two data points compared by the researchers were:

  1. Employees’ ratings of their manager’s ability to “balance getting results with a concern for others’ needs”.
  2. Employees’ ratings of the extent to which their “work environment is a place where people want to go the extra mile”.

Results from the survey revealed that: the least effective managers have three to four times as many people who fall in the “quiet quitting” category compared to the most effective leaders who had 14% of their direct reports quietly quitting, and only 20% were willing to give extra effort. Managers who were rated the highest at balancing results with relationships saw 62% of their direct reports willing to give extra effort, while only 3% were quietly quitting.


Do you feel your direct reports are quietly quitting? Do you think it could be a problem with your leadership qualities? Managers and business leaders need to take a second look at their approach to getting results from their team members and this can be done through establishing trust

Trust causes increased productivity at the workplace and can help change the attitude of quiet quitters drastically. When direct reports trust their managers, they feel he or she cares about them and their wellbeing. 

The team of SHRM researchers linked trust to three behaviors: 

  • Developing positive relationships with all direct reports 
  • Consistently delivering on promises as leaders &
  • Building expertise as a manager or business leader 

It is easy to blame quiet quitters for being lazy or disengaged at work but managers and leaders should realise that every employee wants to give their time, energy, creativity and enthusiasm to an organisation which appreciates them and their efforts- even the little ones.