Image for Quiet Quitting Bogs Down Many Organizations
Quiet quitting has become a hot topic as many employers order their workers back to the office. Gallup employee survey data shows quiet quitters may describe half of the current workforce. Gallup puts the blame on poor, disengaged management, which has given rise to the term quiet firing.

Gallup Blames Trend on Poor, Disengaged Managers

‘Quiet quitting’ is a new term for an old problem. Gallup polling indicates 50 percent of the current US workforce could be considered quiet quitters who do their job but are psychologically disengaged from their work. The poll showed only 32 percent of employees would rate as ‘engaged’ on the job.

Gallup, which has tracked employee engagement since 2000, attributes the current spate of quiet quitting to poor management. The polling firm says too many managers are also disengaged and fail to motivate or inspire workers, often through penurious pay, benefits and time-off policies. This has led to another new term – ‘quiet firing’, in which uninspiring managers get a taste of their own mismanagement by their superiors.

Unquestionably, the contemporary workplace remains unsettled after COVID lockdowns, the rise of remote work and the stutter-step pattern of returning to office settings, often by management fiat. Based on its data, Gallup argues poor management has added to workplace uncertainty and work dissatisfaction.

According to Gallup, Gen Z and younger Millennials under 35 have registered the largest drop in workplace engagement since the pandemic. These cohorts express doubt their managers care about them and don’t provide enough encouragement for the work they do. Forty percent of these workers admit they aren’t even sure what’s expected of them on the job.

Active response is required to combat quiet quitting, Gallup suggests. One of the best ideas is for managers to talk every week with their staff members for 15 to 30 minutes to establish some bonds. Another suggestion is for managers to set clear boundaries for jobs so workers know what’s expected of them.

In addition to one-on-one engagement, internal communications can play a positive role in re-energizing quiet quitters. Think of an online portal for internal communications as the digital office watercooler.

An internal communications platform shouldn’t be viewed as a substitute for direct conversations but rather as a personal extension of group meetings and organizational events. The platform can be a place where company culture is discussed, customer satisfaction is assessed and issues are addressed. You could – and maybe should – openly and honestly discuss quiet quitting.

The internal communications platform should be a two-way street, not a megaphone, where ideas from whatever source are recognized, discussed and viewed as valuable contributions. This may be hard for my-way-or-the-highway managers but it probably is the only way to get quiet quitters off the highway to actually leaving.

Serious subject matter can be interspersed on an internal communications platform with more routine information and employee recognition. Topics such as productivity, hybrid work and paid time-off should stimulate conversation – and possibly some novel ideas. Content for an internal communications platform should be weighed based on its potential for engagement, but it doesn’t have to commandeer the entire site. Engagement can come from fun and just feeling informed.

Like any organizational activity, internal communications should have clear goals. Zappos has tied internal communication as a metric for customer success in selling its shoes, boots and clothing. Other organizations have pegged success to rising employee morale, improved employee collaboration and a climate for innovative thinking. Coca-Cola has implemented an internal communications program to assist its employees become better communicators.

In addition to one-on-one engagement, internal communications can play a positive role in re-energizing quiet quitters.

Inclusivity is important for internal communications. Without it, some employees will feel left out, contributing to a greater degree of frustration and disengagement.

A successful internal communications program requires buy-in from an organization’s workforce, which is its principal audience, but also its total management team that can be viewed as a roadblock. Having team meetings to discuss what internal communications should be like and include is a good place to start. Surveying employees with ideas generated by team discussions can help confirm positive directions for internal communications.

Successful internal communications don’t need to center on a single channel, though it should have a hub. There can be room for multiple channels such as company email. Each channel should have clear path for feedback and engagement.

No matter how good the preparation and execution of an internal communications plan, there can still be kinks. Unraveling those kinks can be its own engaging, team-building exercise.