The ‘quiet quitting’ phenomenon created a monster. Here’s what HR should really be paying attention to

Fast quitting, loud quitting, quiet firing…What do they all mean, and should you care?
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· 3 min read

In August, the Wall Street Journal spotted an unassuming TikTok in the wild and introduced the concept of “quiet quitting” to the masses. After the video was cited by the paper, the quiet-quitting rocket ship ignited its afterburners and went full supernova, and it still hasn’t come back to Earth.

Suddenly, quiet quitting—when workers disengage from their jobs, but continue to do the bare minimum—is trending like a YouTuber’s boxing match: CEOs are worried about it, HR leaders are scrambling to address it, and at least half of US workers admit to falling into the quiet quitting camp.

As a reporter who covers HR, I’ve been bombarded with emails from publicists using quiet quitting as a springboard into other timely workplace trends, such as:

Loud quitting. Quitting…but IN ALL CAPS? According to one publicist’s recent email, this is when an employee lashes out by writing scathing company reviews online, probably with the intention of drawing negative attention for the employer.

Quiet firing. According to the management consultancy Team Building, this occurs “when management creates non-ideal work conditions to make an underperforming employee quit.” (Shh, but the Wall Street Journal tackled this one, too.)

Quiet fleecing. This refers to wage disparity between regular workers and top earners. As the Economic Policy Institute put it on Twitter: “Workers are more productive than ever, but their pay hasn’t kept pace while top 1% wages have skyrocketed.” (Of course, the widening wealth gap in the US isn’t a new thing, the same think tank is quick to point out.)

Fast quitting. Quitting, but perhaps with a pair of Guy Fieri’s trademark shades on? As Entrepreneur recently wrote, this occurs when “someone leaves their position before the one-year mark—something that was once seen as a standard amount of time to stay in a job.” (Millennials were branded “the job-hopping generation,” by Gallup in 2016, so, this is not a super recent development…)

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Zoom out. Many have pointed out that quiet quitting is just a new name for doing what’s expected and nothing more. And the media hype amplifying this not-so-new trend can wind up overlooking what some say is the underlying cause of many resignations, be they quiet or noisy:  bad management. A recent survey by leadership consultancy Zenger/Folkman analyzed the relationships between 13,048 employees and 2,801 managers, finding that managers who lent a human touch to their workplace relationships were far more likely to have engaged workforces. “We found 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,” Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman wrote in the Harvard Business Review.

Though it might not be a cure-all for someone who’s bound for the exit, many have noted that emphasizing communication and honest relationships between managers and their teams might give a potential quitter reason to stick around, at a reasonable volume.—SB

Do you work in HR or have information about your HR department we should know? Email [email protected] or DM @SammBlum on Twitter. For completely confidential conversations, ask Sam for his number on Signal.

HR is challenging. HR news doesn’t have to be.

News built to help HR pros grow their impact & improve the future of work.