Latest research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), reveals that as many as 3.2 percent of the UK’s working population has changed jobs since Spring 2021.

A further 43 percent say they are extremely likely to look for new employment within the next year.

As we know, the ‘Great Resignation’ has become an employment phenomenon following the Covid pandemic, as more employees look to reduce stress and find a better work life balance.

Not everyone is choosing to actually quit their jobs though. Rather than leave, some employees are instead disengaging from work by ‘Quiet Quitting’ a new term used to describe staying in the job but not working beyond set hours or taking on any potentially stressful tasks or responsibilities.

Quiet quitting – on top of employees handing in their notices – is an additional headache for employers.

The Great Resignation or Quiet Quitting?

The terms ‘Great Resignation’ and ‘Quiet Quitting’ have been thrown around a lot in the employment space as of late, but what do they mean and what can businesses do about it?

To get some much-needed advice and guidance on the topic, we spoke to Alexandra Bullmore, leading employment law specialist at Derby-based law firm Smith Partnership, who has shared some insightful information to support businesses with this increasingly common, and concerning, problem.

“After the Covid-19 pandemic, more and more people began to put their mental wellbeing first as opposed to their careers,” began Alex.

“From craving a better work life balance, to actively trying to avoid burnout, employees across the world and the UK placed increasing focus on taking care of themselves, and for many businesses, this meant an increase in resignations from unhappy employees.”

What is the Great Resignation?

The Great Resignation described the phenomenon that saw thousands of people resign from their jobs starting in the Spring of 2021.

“According to research conducted by the Chartered Insitute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), as many as 3.2 percent of the working population in the UK changed their jobs, with an additional 43 percent  stating they were extremely likely to change jobs within the next year – a figure that was unearthed by Microsoft’s 2022 Work Trend Index,” explained Alex.

“Again, the pandemic had a huge part to play in this, with people using this time to take stock of their careers and assess their options, as well as potentially seeking employment in a more secure industry if they were concerned about redundancies.”

For many businesses, this created an atmosphere of anxiety and uncertainty, as they feared as many as half of their workforce was planning on resigning.

What is Quiet Quitting?

Quiet quitting is a relatively new term, coined to describe employees that simply work their hours and do their job without necessarily going above and beyond.

“There’s some confusion around quiet quitting, as it doesn’t actually mean people are quitting their jobs,” began Alex.

“It simply refers to those that do precisely what their jobs requires of them and no more, and for many people, this is their response to reducing any work-related stress in a bid to protect their mental wellbeing in the professional environment.”

Employees are becoming disengaged from the companies they work for and prioritising themselves over the company.

Constructive and unfair dismissals

For many employers, the sudden drop in motivation from their employees called for dismissals, however, if the correct procedure is not followed, these employees may well have grounds to bring a claim against their employer for unfair dismissal, especially where the employees are not actually doing anything wrong but instead seem disengaged.

“As opposed to simply dismissing staff, businesses should look to nurture their employees to create a positive, inspiring and motivational work environment, which can hopefully address the needs of employees and reduce the number of resignations.”

While ‘Quiet Quitting’ has become extremely popular as of late, it seems some employers have taken matters into their own hands, with ‘Quiet Firing’ becoming one of the latest buzzwords in the employment sector.

“Quiet Firing is where management takes steps to make the workplace unappealing in order to make employees quit,” explained Alex.

“This type of management can have serious repercussions for businesses, as employees can use this as grounds to lodge a constructive unfair dismissal claim, or, depending on the lengths the managers go to make the workplace unpleasant or single employees out, employees may even be able to lodge a discrimination claim.”

What steps can businesses take to reduce resignations and boost productivity?

With businesses facing increasing pressure around supporting their employees’ mental wellbeing in the workplace, it’s becoming increasingly important to implement solutions into the business that can reduce quiet quitting, resignations, and constructive or ordinary unfair dismissal claims.

“From workplace incentives to wellbeing policies, or training for managers, businesses have a plethora of options available to them,” Alex suggested.

“Implementing such initiatives can help employees to feel valued in the workplace, thus reducing workplace tensions and hopefully eliminating the need for any dismissals and tribunals, which can be stressful for both employer and employee.”

With this issue expected to continue for an unprecedented period of time, it’s important that businesses have access to honest and reliable legal advice should they face any issues falling into the category of employment law.





Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.