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How to Get Employees More Engaged During Quiet Quitting: Start with These Two Things

"Quiet quitters" make up at least 50% of the U.S. workforce -- probably more, Gallup


Around the world, businesses have witnessed the ‘Great Resignation’ that followed the pandemic. Now employers are struggling to get employees more engaged in this era of quiet quitting while they search for qualified candidates to fill empty positions.

What is ‘Quiet Quitting’? It is a phrase coined by Tik Tokker Zaid Khan that went viral as a new phenomenon. However, it is a trending label for the long standing problem of employee disengagement in the workplace. Disengagement is not new but has been highlighted by the many changes occurring in the work world.

According to Gallup, only 21% of workers globally are motivated, emotionally invested and actively engaged to go above basic job requirements. Another 19% of workers are actively disengaged and completely checked out of work. The remainder of employees fall into the murky zone that is degrees of disengagement (aka quiet quitting).

Disengaged workers who have quietly quit, show up and do the minimum, but won’t ever go beyond the lowest bar that has been set for them at work. They are more likely to experience burnout and leave for other job opportunities. The turnover costs of replacing disengaged employees are 15 -20% of a company’s payroll budget yearly.

Quiet quitting is estimated have affected at least 50% of global workers in 2022. Clearly it is an issue which is urgent to address, but where should businesses begin, and how much will it cost? They can start with two very basic and affordable first steps.

Two Low Cost Ways For Leaders to Combat Quiet Quitting and Get Employees More Engaged

1. Understand That Engagement and Employee Well-being Start With You

Your presence to your staff and your example in how you show up to them, is incredibly important. It allows them to see you and feel supported. The know, like and trust factor with your employees has a huge impact on the functioning of the team. If they never see you and you rarely interact with them, not much of what you say is actually going to matter. They are not going to trust you or feel you understand them. Concerns won’t be brought to you until they are issues that have blown up.

Get to know your staff and show up on the floor often, not as an ominous figure, but as someone who has their back.

Take a couple minutes to make it personal and learn something about their lives. Group meetings are great but also talk with employees individually for the sole purpose of learning who they are, not only as valued members of your staff, but also as people.

These actions will build positive relationships, and help your staff feel validated and valued. You will begin to know what is normal and when things are going well on the floor because you see it. If you are managing remotely, rarely see your employees and communication is minimal, you will never be able to pick up on small changes that happen before significant shifts.

Gallup research has shown that a single conversation around workday planning with a manager can almost instantly resolve engagement issues with that employee and restore motivation. In fact, managers are 70% responsible for the variance in employee engagement.

Realize the Power of Recognition

If your business is struggling with engagement amid quiet quitting, recognition is going to be a powerful game changer. Recognition can cost as little as your time. It is immediately validating to your staff and extraordinarily effective.

In organizations, 81% of leaders worldwide have not made employee recognition a priority in their business. However, when employees are recognized for their contributions at work, they are 4x more likely to be engaged and 56% less likely to be looking for other positions. With turnover costs related to employee disengagement being 16.1 million for every 10 000 employees; no matter how you scale that number up or down to fit your company size, the payoffs and importance of recognizing your staff are evident.

Sixty-six percent of leaders have indicated that their organizations don't have funding set aside for employee recognition. What can be done to show recognition to your staff if money is a limitation? While more complex rewards systems are great, what can’t be underestimated is the power of a simple thank you, that is specific, sincere and personal. It can be extended during a one on one conversation or during a team meeting so all members are aware.

Workloads are increasing and there are fewer employees to pick up the slack following the ‘Great Resignation.' Taking the time to seek out employees and tell them that you notice the efforts they are making, goes a long way. Gallup cites the ideal frequency of recognition for individual employees as one or more weekly. The real frequency for individual recognition being given in organizations is a few times a year or less in many workplaces.

While weekly, individual acknowledgment of employee contributions may not be sustainable, monthly recognition is the critical minimum to strive for as a leader. If recognition is given less frequently than that, the zone where employees feel unseen in their efforts and unappreciated is being entered.

If you are not sure of what to do to show appreciation and recognize your staff, start with a genuine thank you for a task that was well done or effort that was made. Make recognition timely, specific, personal and fair. Speak to the contributions of each person on your team, not just a few select members of your staff.


The global work world has experienced major changes following the pandemic. The ‘Great Resignation’ happened and now the phenomenon of quiet quitting has set in. Quiet quitting, while an urgent, current problem, is actually a new term for the long standing issue of global employee disengagement.

In part, quiet quitting is now being highlighted due to a huge reprioritization of what people value as important in their lives. Work still matters but COVID-19 was a wake up call for people. Work life balance and personal fulfillment are significant considerations in their employment decisions.

In the fight against quiet quitting, visible presence and building strong relationships with their staff, is the first powerful tool that leaders can use to combat disengagement. The second is recognizing and validating their employees for their efforts and contributions to the organization. This needs to happen not only for the whole team, but with sincere, specific acknowledgment being given to individuals.


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