Designing Jobs That Employees Don’t Want to Quietly Quit

Two years ago, I’d never even heard the term ‘quiet quitting’ but a pandemic, global lockdown and work-from-home phenomenon later, and its become a worrying trend for employers.

What is quiet quitting?

It’s a term popularised by TikTokers that essentially means to do the bare minimum work required to stay on a company’s payroll but nothing more. It’s not quitting but it’s not doing your job to the best of your abilities either.

It worked for George in Sienfeld, who famously setup a bed under his desk, where he’d spend his work day napping, but there’s a lot more to quiet quitting than just catching up on sleep.

Quiet quitters clock in at nine and out at five. They perform the tasks asked of them at a pace that suits them but don’t take any initiative or try to meet deadlines or targets of any kind. They’re not engaged in their work and they’re not looking for opportunities to go above and beyond.

The ramifications of quiet quitters in the workplace

It might seem like quiet quitting is a victimless crime, but it’s actually quite damaging – both to the individual doing it and to the company they work for. There’s the obvious loss of productivity and morale that comes with employees not caring about their jobs, but there’s also the very real risk of a domino effect.

If someone’s not doing their job properly, it can create more work for others and lead to team members feeling overburdened and undervalued. When employees feel like that, they’re much more likely to start looking for a way out.

To me, something about the quiet quitting phenomenon seems almost inevitable after the job insecurity, stress and work disruptions the last two years have thrown at people. For many, it was a time to reflect on the meaning of their lives and their relationships with work. The mass exodus from capital cities to the greener pastures of regional living perfectly illustrates this restless introspection.

The normalisation of working from home blurred the line between work and home life for many. Some saw the change as an opportunity to work harder and get ahead. Others leaned the other way, using the new arrangement as a way to “correct” their previous work-life imbalance.

Some argue that quiet quitting is merely a step towards fixing the broken relationship between employer and employee. Workers taking back some power from bosses who underpaid and under-appreciated them. In some instances this may be true. But that doesn’t make it any less frustrating for employers trying to juggle customer expectations and balance sheets with keeping their staff.

Reducing the motivation to quiet quit

So, how do we design jobs that employees won’t want to quietly quit from? It seems like fair pay, good working conditions and a positive culture doesn’t quite cut it anymore.

According to Dr Ashley Weinberg from the University of Salford, employees “want to be respected for what they do, and valued in some way.” This is on top of being paid fairly and doing meaningful work. Understanding what motivates your employees and making sure that their individual needs are being met is the first step towards achieving this.

Learn what your employees want

Is your employee looking for more responsibility? More flexible working hours? Better work/life balance? Whatever it is, knowing what they want is more important now than it ever has been. Even if you can’t give them everything they want right now, you can set some targets, give your employees goals to achieve and put them on a path to achieving their desired outcomes.

Check in with your employees regularly, both formally and informally.

This is something that should be done anyway but it’s even more important now. Formal check-ins can be done through things like performance reviews or one-on-one meetings. But it’s the informal chats that are just as important.

Create more transparency around your employees workdays.

To put it bluntly, working from home makes quiet quitting way too easy and the lack of oversight can amplify distractions. I’m not saying you should assume employees aren’t working just because they are at home, but some boundaries and expectations do need to be set. Instead of trying to micromanage or monitor your employee’s activities, move to a more goals oriented approach. Set goals together and implement regular checkins to discuss progress.

Involve your employees in the business.

Try adding company shares into their compensation packages or giving them a say in business decisions. Employees who feel like they have a stake in the business are much less likely to leave.

Reward employees for showing initiative or doing exceptional work.

This doesn’t have to be a financial reward, it could be something as simple as public recognition or extra time off. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something that aligns with what the individual employee values.

Give your employees a clear progression path.

I know, you’d prefer them to just keep doing what they are currently doing forever, but that’s not likely what they want. Employees want to know they are working towards something and that their extra efforts will pay off down the track.

Identify what makes a job undesirable.

Is it the hours? Boring work? The commute? There are often things that can’t be changed but if you can identify what they are, you can at least try to mitigate them and show your employee you care.


Quiet quitting is a symptom of a bigger problem. It may be a bigger problem within your organisation or perhaps its on a societal level. Regardless, it’s a very real issue that employers need to start taking seriously if they want to avoid a great resignation at their company.