The term “quiet quitting” has recently been hard to avoid on the internet, in the media and in the workplace. Unlike its name implies, it has nothing to do with the employee actually quitting their job. Rather, it’s when an employee will not give more than the bare minimum and put in any extra effort. Employers can attempt to improve performance by such employees by ensuring they have good managers in place throughout their organizations.

How does quiet quitting work?

bored man at office desk seems to be quiet quitting at work

The quiet quitting employee lies between those who are actively engaged in their work and in the organization, and those who are actively disengaged. They will not put in extra time in the office or respond to emails over the weekend. The employee will not perform any task not explicitly required of them. They simply decide to perform their job in a cursory manner, cash their paycheck and leave early if possible.

This is not a new concept. Every employer likely has a subset of employees that lies in this no man’s land between engagement and disengagement. The challenge is how to motivate those in the middle and change them into employees who are content and involved in their work and in their organization.

That’s where managers come in. A good manager can take an employee who is on the verge of being disengaged and, through support, encourage and inspire the employee to be more involved. Employee engagement leads to a stronger workplace culture that is more supportive of its employees and more likely to instill a sense of belonging for all employees.

How can a manager increase employee engagement?

A manager’s role in engaging employees can be summed up by three factors: trust, feedback and accountability.

  • Do employees trust their manager?

If there is no trust in the employee-manager relationship, the manager will have a difficult time convincing employees to be more productive and to devote their time and ability to the job at hand.

  • Does the manager provide feedback to employees?

And, does that feedback include positive comments and recognition as well as constructive feedback for improvement? Employees feel more supported when they are given advice on how to improve and when they are noticed and appreciated for a job well done.

  • Does the manager hold employees, and themselves, accountable for performance?

Employees want to work with coworkers who are willing to share the load and take the burden off of others from time to time. If there are poor performers on the team, the manager should address the performance deficiencies and issue discipline. If the manager has underachieved, the manager should be willing to acknowledge this and strive to improve in the future.

A good manager may not solve all quiet quitting problems, but establishing a trusting relationship is a step in the right direction.

Key takeaways

Employee engagement takes time. If your managers are not meeting expectations, ensure they have training so they are equipped to motivate their team. If they still are ineffective, consider whether they have the skills, knowledge and dedication to be a manager.

When employee engagement is a priority, the entire business benefits. Efforts to improve engagement also will improve workplace efficiency, dedication and culture in general. Although drastic change may not occur overnight, evaluating and addressing employee engagement should always be top of mind for employers.