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Quiet Quitting: Managers Make the Difference

How to identify and manage unmet needs amongst your team and yourself.

Quiet Quitting - this latest buzzword is having a large impact on employers. I first heard of the phrase from a colleague a couple months back and was instantly curious about what this looked like. Employee engagement is top of mind post-pandemic. As stress levels and mental health claims reach an all time high, globally, we find only 21% of employees are engaged at work - Gallup. If you are a manager who is both faced with employees quiet quitting and feeling like, wow, I think I'm quiet quitting - keep reading...

Although quiet quitting is the latest trend, it has been top of mind for employers even pre-pandemic. Employee engagement separates A+ employers from sub-par employers to work for. Employees have specific needs for overall wellbeing in the workplace. When specific needs are not met, employers find that employee engagement is reduced.

Remember Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs? I'm sure this is ringing a bell from your high school or college psych class - picture a pyramid split up in five sections. The concept is that human needs are split among basic needs, psychological needs, and self-fulfillment needs.

Basic Needs: To successfully meet all needs, employees must first feel their basic needs are met: physiological needs (food, water, warmth, rest) and safety needs (security, safety).

Psychological Needs: Next employees must feel their psychological needs are met: belongingness and love needs (intimate relationships, friends) and esteem needs (prestige and feeling of accomplishment).

Self-Fulfillment Needs: Last (at the top of the pyramid) employees must feel their self-fulfillment needs are met: self-actualization (achieving one's full potential, including creative activities).

When employee engagement is applied to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, managers can start associating behaviors to specific unmet needs on the hierarchy.

Quiet quitting falls into the category of "not engaged" and "disengaged" or "actively disengaged". Not engaged employees are psychologically unattached to their work and company. Because their engagement needs are not being fully met, they're putting time - but not energy or passion - into their work. Disengaged or actively disengaged employees aren't just unhappy at work - they are resentful that their needs aren't being met and are acting out their unhappiness. Every day, these workers potentially undermine what their engaged coworkers accomplish (dangerous territory). - Gallup.


Key symptoms or indicators to watch for with your team are:

Proceed with caution:

  1. Minimal productivity

  2. More sick days than expected

  3. Doesn't like you (manager) or the team - isolation from others

  4. Other team members are picking up the slack

Danger zone:

  1. Low productivity - clock watcher

  2. Not satisfied or excited by their work

  3. Negative attitude and not a team player

  4. Brings down the team's morale - not shy about voicing looking for another job

How can you as the manager combat the situation?

Start by scheduling frequent (weekly), meaningful 20-30 minute one-on-ones (check-ins) with each team member (direct report). Here are some questions to get you started:

  1. Whare are your recent successes? (take a minute to celebrate)

  2. What are you most proud of?

  3. What areas do you wish to grow?

  4. What areas do you need added support?

  5. How can I help you be successful? Do you have all the tools needed to be successful?

  6. What are your goals for the next week?

This approach gets to the roots of what your team member needs in their role. IMPORTANT - make sure the time is scheduled each week, no interruptions, no cancelations, make time for your employee - show up present and prepared. This time is about your employee.


Key quiet quitting symptoms or indicators to watch for in yourself are:

  1. Feelings of burnout (dreading work, lack of interest or motivation, decreased sense of accomplishment, uncontrollable procrastination)

  2. Deadlines continue to slip - feelings of hopelessness

  3. Lack of recognition from your direct boss

  4. Job insecurity - feeling of not meeting expectations

  5. Feelings like you should isolate yourself from others

  6. Carrying these feelings home at the end of the day/week

If you fit the above description, you are not bringing your best self to work every day. This has a direct impact on the team you manage and teams you work closely with.

How do you combat this if you are the one quite quitting?

Start by having an honest conversation with your direct manager. Request that the two of you meet in a one-on-one on a weekly basis to discuss questions outlined for your direct team. Express what needs are not being met and request that some changes take place to align your needs with the organization.


Quiet quitting is trendy phrase brought on by more publicity on TikTok and Instagram. We are seeing Gen Z and younger millennials (below age 35) being more open about their work frustrations. It appears to be heavily driven by remote or hybrid employees. BUT there is a trend regardless of your age or work arrangement. Employers who do not follow through with setting employee expectations, valuable communication, authentic recognition, and career development will continue to have employee engagement decline with in their organization. Gallup reports that quite quitters make up at least 50% of the U.S. workforce - and that number continues to grow.

If you are interested in learning more about how combat "Quiet Quitting", please click the button below for a complementary 30-minute coaching session with Malarie.

Another valuable resource is the book "Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements" by Tom Rath and Jim Harter found on Amazon. This book is published by Gallup and full of statistic driven advice for finding true wellbeing at work and home. Click below to get your copy today!

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