Rising inflation, higher taxation burdens, uncertainty around long-term energy costs and mortgage agreements – there are a lot of financial worries playing on people’s minds at the moment, highlights Ian McVey, SVP and GM EMEA at Visier.

More and more are wondering how to make ends meet. As a result, something of a basic survival instinct is starting to kick in, with many ‘quietly quitting’ other areas of their lives as a result, be it relationships, maintaining strong family ties and all-important life admin.

Unfortunately, the reality for businesses is that quiet quitting is also happening in the workplace. In this context, quiet quitting is defined as not quitting your job, but quitting the idea of going above and beyond.

According to recent Visier data,  despite nearly half of United Kingdom (UK) workers (46%) admitting that they would like to change jobs, more than eight in 10 (81%) are planning to ride out the economic recession with their current employer.

And of those who fall into both categories, 30 percent openly admit they are more likely to quietly quit their role during a recession, with 26 percent citing it as a good way to work out their next move, focus on personal projects and allocate more time for learning and development activities.

Motivation for the trend

It is important to note that discussions continue to be had about the motivations behind quiet quitting, what the term is really referring to and how bosses should respond. Some hold the view that quiet quitters should resign and find a job that they are willing to go above and beyond for. Others, meanwhile, say quiet quitting is more about employees trying to establish a firm work-life balance as they refuse to give more of themselves to a job outside of contract and that employers need to recognise that.

Whatever view you hold, the conversation around quiet quitting is getting louder. Indeed, such has been the trajectory of the trend, the saying has been named among the top 10 words of 2022 alongside the likes of ‘partygate’, a saga which dominated headlines for much of 2021 and continues to remain in the public conscience.

What can businesses do about the Quiet Quitting problem?

For employers, this is a problem they need to not only be aware of, but also strategise around and respond appropriately to. There are three main motivators for employees in the workplace, pay, experience and mission. Getting these right, whilst maintaining a good work life balance, can make or break  an employee’s commitment levels to an employer.

Pay is straightforward, it ultimately comes down to whether an employee feels they are fairly compensated for their role. This is of course dictated by the market, and can only be adjusted so much, but employees rightly expect a fair salary in recognition of their work and the rising cost of living. The second sticking point is experience. There is a cohort of employees that are looking to their organisation to continue to grow their skills and professional development, and work up until the point they feel they’ve learned enough at their organisation and within their team. For these employees, sourcing constant learning and development opportunities is vital. And the third is mission. If employees are able to align their values to the organisations, it can be incredibly motivating and keeps the team attached to the work they do. Now more than ever, it is vital businesses focus on their mission and value.

These three elements are backed up by data. Our respondents said that if their employer – or a prospective employer – offered bonus schemes (39%), better learning and development opportunities (29%) and permanent hybrid working schemes (24%), they would feel more content with their job.

How is this related to the cost-of-living crisis?

Across the UK, Ireland and Europe, a good starting point for business leaders and HR managers is to recognise that their colleagues will be looking to their companies to help them handle rising costs of living and flourish in the workplace, especially as we enter a period of deepening economic and political uncertainty.

This will also be important in continuing to attract new talent. Firms need to assure candidates that the ‘last hired, first fired’ mantra is not going to be true when times get tough.

That does not mean avoiding talking about the difficult realities that businesses are facing. Companies and employees alike are facing extremely tough financial circumstances. Bosses therefore need to identify ways to communicate honestly and openly about the current challenges they are facing, and at the same time assure their employees that the business is there for them to offer support.

This requires committing arguably the greatest form of currency – time. Business leaders need to free up their schedules and dedicate time to re-engaging employees, implementing the support measures that will help them through the times ahead.

With a tough year ahead, it will be fascinating to see how companies recognise and approach the quiet quitting conundrum. Those that get it right, I believe, will be laying the foundations for a motivated, loyal workforce in the long term.

The bottom line is – if you want your employees to go above and beyond for you, start by asking if and how you will go above and beyond for them.


Ian McVey is SVP and GM EMEA at Visier.