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Understanding Quiet Quitting

“Quiet quitting” is not a new concept to employers. It occurs when employees become less invested or engaged in their work and only perform their core job duties without going above and beyond. 

While these employees continue to perform their primary responsibilities, they’re less invested overall. Quiet quitting can be a sign that a worker is unhappy in their role or is feeling burned out. In fact, many workers engage in quiet quitting to help alleviate work-related stress and burnout. 

It can often be the first step toward an employee’s eventual departure, either by the employee voluntarily leaving for a new opportunity or the employer letting the employee go because their performance no longer meets expectations. However, employers are encouraged to confirm with local legal counsel to ensure such decisions comply with applicable laws.

A recent report from work management software company Asana revealed that nearly 7 out of 10 workers experienced burnout in 2022. These employees were often less engaged, more prone to mistakes and at higher risk for low morale. 

With the recent increase in employees working in remote or hybrid environments, it’s become more difficult for employers to identify employees who may be at risk of quiet quitting. However, employers can use a variety of metrics to better recognize the signs of when employees are no longer motivated to work or feeling burnt out.

This article provides a general overview of quiet quitting and metrics employers can use to detect quiet quitting trends among their workers.

Signs of Quiet Quitting

To improve engagement and reenergize employees, employers must be able to understand and recognize the signs. While indications of quiet quitting can take various forms, there are some common signs, including:

  • Not attending nonmandatory meetings
  • Not being as productive as they once were
  • Contributing less to team projects
  • Not participating in meetings
  • Displaying a lack of enthusiasm

Importantly, there are many reasons why employees may choose to quiet quit; for example, they may feel they’re not being fairly compensated for work performed outside of their core duties. Although the exact reasons an employee is choosing to quiet quit may not be evident, these signs are reliable indicators that an employee is coming less engaged with their work or considering leaving their position.

Better Understanding Quiet Quitting

Quiet quitting is not necessarily a bad thing, and employees who are choosing to quiet quit shouldn’t be considered lost causes. With support and resources, these workers can recover from burnout and find meaning in their roles again. If an employer experiences a rise in employees deciding to quiet quit, it should be a wake-up call that they must do something to address it.

Understanding and utilizing the following metrics can help employers recognize employees who are or may be at risk of quiet quitting.

Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is an important indicator of an employee’s levels of motivation, commitment and connectedness they feel toward their role and employer. The more engaged a worker is, the more productive they are and the less likely they are to be at risk of quiet quitting. Employee engagement can be difficult to measure since it is made up of factors that are hard to quantify, such as motivation, happiness, satisfaction and commitment; however, employers can use quantitative and qualitative data to measure their organization’s employee engagement.

Employers can obtain this data by doing the following:

  • Conducting regular employee satisfaction surveys
  • Measuring voluntary employee turnover and absenteeism rates
  • Performing employee sentiment analysis
  • Calculating the organization’s employee net promoter score
  • Holding one-on-one meetings and stay or exit interviews
  • Reviewing employee performance

Burnout Risk

While “burnout” has become a catch-all term for employees feeling exhausted and stressed, it has become increasingly acknowledged as a critical element of the global well-being crisis. The World Health Organization has recently added burnout as an occupational phenomenon in their international classification of diseases. Employee burnout occurs when employees are unable to manage chronic workplace stress. Anxiety, depression, irritability and low self-confidence are all symptoms of employee burnout. It can also manifest in physical symptoms, such as headaches, colds, difficulty communicating and low energy levels.

Burnout is likely to occur when employees must:

  • Balance heavy workloads with tight deadlines
  • Work long hours without suitable compensation
  • Meet unclear expectations

Establishing effective metrics can help employers understand which employees are experiencing feelings of burnout. The Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) was developed in 1981 to help measure employee burnout. The MBI evaluates burnout based on the following criteria:

  • Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
  • Increased mental distance or cynicism related to work
  • Reduced work efficacy

A burnout diagnosis requires a negative score in all three criteria. Organizations can conduct engagement surveys, train managers to recognize early signs of burnout and prioritize a healthy workplace culture to reduce instances of burnout.

Turnover Risk

Employee turnover risk refers to the probability or likelihood that employees will leave an organization for other opportunities. Employee turnover can negatively impact organizations by imposing costs related to recruitment, hiring and onboarding new employees, resulting in loss of critical knowledge and skills and causing reduced morale and productivity.

Employers can track several key metrics to measure and assess employee turnover risks, including:

  • Turnover rate, including overall, voluntary, involuntary and new-hire turnover
  • Internal mobility rate
  • Exit interview analysis
  • Employee satisfaction surveys
  • Tenure distribution


By tracking employee engagement, burnout risk and turnover risk metrics over time, employers can gain important insights into the potential causes of why employees are quiet quitting. This can help organizations identify trends, make informed decisions to address any underlying causes, and help their workers find balance and become engaged and productive.

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