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How can leaders combat quiet quitting?

The Great Resignation has sparked a degree of anxiety and frustration and the world of work has seen drastic changes since the pandemic. Recently, social media platforms have been dominated by the mindset of quiet quitting, as employees are increasingly looking for an improved work-life balance.

The idea of quiet quitting is about rejecting the notion that work must take over one's life and that employees should go above and beyond what their job descriptions entail. Quiet quitting can take various shapes, from a reduction in productivity to arriving late and leaving early. It may express itself through absenteeism and non-attendance at meetings, failure to contribute to team projects, and failure to acknowledge the presence of co-workers. Although it can take different forms, quiet quitting is not about employees leaving their job.

The phenomenon of quiet quitting encourages employees to seek the freedom to choose what projects they want to work on, the freedom to make their own schedules, and a greater ability to balance work and personal obligations. Whilst traditional employee management practices aren’t keeping pace with these demands, looking at the problem from a different angle can help leaders empower their teams and retain top talent.

Employees are using quiet quitting to communicate their deep dissatisfaction with the culture of work. Misaligned expectations are a significant challenge in many organisations, causing employees to feel undervalued and lowering their personal job performance. The result of misalignment is often an erosion of the manager-employee relationship, which can cause or deepen dissatisfaction.

Although quiet quitting may have left some employees feeling disengaged, it doesn't have to stay that way. Here are four ways leaders can keep employees motivated and engaged:

1. Arrange regular check-ins

As a leader, communication is critical to your team’s success. Setting time aside every week for one-on-one meetings with employees can help both, leaders and individuals to feel connected, build trust and maintain morale. However, leaders should be prepared to deal with any questions or issues that may arise. This is also a good opportunity to highlight the great work employees are doing and how much they've contributed to the growth of the organisation.

2. Foster a positive culture

Employee engagement is one of the most important factors in creating a positive and productive workplace. Engaged employees are more likely to feel more positive about their work environment, enjoy their jobs more, and are more committed to an organisation. Building a strong relationship between leaders and employees can have a significant impact on employee satisfaction, loyalty, commitment, and even productivity.

3. Set a clear career path

As a leader, your employees are your most important asset, but that doesn’t mean they always see their future within the organisation. Allowing them to develop their skills is a big driver in employee satisfaction, so setting aside time and resources to support training could make a considerable difference in how they approach their day-to-day work. Creating a work environment where employees feel autonomous can also help create a sense of trust and shared ownership, which will result in them gaining even greater satisfaction from their jobs.

4. Encourage boundary setting

Setting boundaries is one of the most critical ways employees can maintain their work-life balance. As a leader, it is important to develop a way of communication that will make employees feel heard. A few other ways of doing that can be as simple as emphasising that answering after-hours calls or emails is optional, defining guidelines for what constitutes an appropriate after-hours emergency, and encouraging employees to have personal time.

For organisations to be successful in the long term, they need to create a healthy and respectful work culture by helping employees learn to manage realistic expectations. Leaders need to be role models by creating an environment where employees are valued, supported, and guided through career paths to have measurable goals so they can reach their full potential.

At Acumen, we pride ourselves in offering training and development that gives managers practical tools to help solve real-life challenges. We offer an extensive menu of courses, workshops, and coaching programmes, ranging from communication skills to executive leadership development. In most cases, we design the interventions specifically for each client, but we also offer a wide range of off-the-shelf programmes for those who prefer this approach. For more information about our programmes please contact Simon at


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