CEOs are concerned their employees are stepping out of their responsibilities amid a tight job market.
As news about the trend flooded the internet, staffing firms, consultants, law firms, and even artificial intelligence startups jumped in to offer advice on how to prevent and combat it.
The demand seems to be there: Executives at large and well-known companies in the finance, technology and healthcare sectors are very concerned, said Ben Granger, chief occupational psychologist at survey company Qualtrics.
“It’s quite rare that many leaders in large organizations bring this to us in such a short space of time as it has been talked about in the media,” he said. “I don’t see that often.”
But leaders don’t know what to do about it.
Human resource professionals say leaders are concerned about whether they can rely on their employees in a recession — or whether they can afford to lay off and replace silent quitters in a tight job market, Granger said.
Executives are concerned that if it spreads under their noses, they won’t notice.
“Many executives and clients I work with, some for the first time in 30 years, are scared as employers,” said Erica Dhawan, workplace consultant and author of a book on remote and hybrid work.
“They feel like they have to keep people who aren’t performing.”
What’s particularly scary for executives, Granger says, is the “invisible” nature of the trend.
In a remote or hybrid environment, the classic signs that an employee is checked out, like tardiness and absenteeism, can be harder to spot.
While their first reaction is often one of laziness, Granger says many realize it’s actually a management issue.
There’s even an artificial intelligence startup that claims to offer a solution that analyzes email and Slack messages to detect employee engagement, burnout, and attrition risk.
However, according to Caroline Walsh, vice president of human resources at consulting firm Gartner, chief human resource officers are typically less startled by all the talk of quiet quitting than others in the C-suite.
Since they’ve been dealing with and talking about burnout for years, the phenomenon is less surprising.
You might underestimate the problem. According to a survey of over 1,200 participants by the Society for Human Resource Management, more than half of HR professionals from various industries surveyed in late August were concerned about quietly quitting.
Yet only about a third believe this is happening within their own organization, a perception at odds with Gallup’s recent estimate that a full 50% of the US workforce can be considered quiet quitters.
While it’s hard to say how much quieter quitting is happening since the trend went viral, Granger said that the fact that more people are talking about it is in itself significant because it’s more likely to catch on and spread.
“Now you have a big problem,” he said. “If you get into a situation where companies are starting to see this tip and it’s now massively stopping, it’s almost certainly going to result in some massive downstream business impact.”