How to prevent quiet quitting by promoting employee mental health

When an employee “quiet quits”, it means that they’ve become so disengaged from their job that they’ve decided to just go through the motions. It’s a form of mentally checking out, leading to a lack of motivation and productivity.

Quiet quitting can have huge consequences for businesses. A poll from recruiter Monster found that 62% of workers are now quiet quitting (or thinking of quiet quitting) which is an astonishing figure.

If an employer can’t stay on top of the quiet quitting phenomenon, they’ll likely suffer from a slowdown in growth or an outright decline in their overall business performance.

So, how do you prevent quiet quitting? The answer is to give managers the tools they need to support employees with their mental health and wellbeing and to spot the signs of quiet quitting so that they can address the underlying problems.

In this article, we explore the reasons behind the rise in quiet quitting and set out how businesses should empower managers to be able to tackle the phenomenon, helping to foster a fulfilled, engaged, and happy workforce.

Why are employees quiet quitting?

It should come as no surprise that overwork is a huge factor leading to quiet quitting. A survey from Just Entrepreneurs found that 53% of UK employees felt overworked. What can be baffling for some employers is that quiet quitting can be a conscious decision from the employee, often made because they’re worried about burning out. As a result, they simply decide to do less work and protect themselves by becoming less emotionally invested in their employment.

With the significant rise of remote and hybrid working following the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s become easier for employees to shop around for another job if needed, so the risks associated with doing the bare minimum at work have diminished for many.

By its very nature, working from home also has less supervision from management and less interaction with a company’s culture. As a result, it’s become easier for employees to become disconnected from their employer.

Then there is the new generation of workers. Gen Z want to be somewhere that supports their wellbeing and gives them a work/life balance. They also want to be working somewhere meaningful, which means they need to feel that their contributions make a difference and that their opinions are valued. It's even become a badge of honour for some Gen Z workers, as they boast that they’re readdressing their work-life balance in favour of their personal lives.

Businesses that treat their workers as commodities may quickly find themselves unable to attract and retain young talent. Younger workers often don’t want to push themselves for companies that they’re not emotionally attached to. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as the workforce pushes back on unpleasant or toxic company cultures that drive their workers unreasonably hard and opt for businesses that do prioritise health and wellbeing.

Of course, it’s also not all about Gen Z. Many workers reconsidered their life priorities after the Covid-19 pandemic, leading to attitude changes that will likely prevail for many years to come.

How does employee mental health impact quiet quitting?

Quiet quitting can stem from a fear of burnout but also from burnout itself. This means that stress, anxiety and depression, if left unaddressed, can lead to employees disengaging from their work.

By supporting employee mental health, businesses can improve morale, productivity, and engagement levels while reducing the likelihood of quiet quitting. It creates an environment where employees can feel supported, understood, and valued, which can significantly impact job satisfaction and overall commitment.

What are the signs of quiet quitting in the workplace?

Quiet quitting isn’t always easy to spot as it can come on gradually. Some common signs of quiet quitting include:

  • Lack of motivation.
  • Lower quality of work.
  • Withdrawal from team discussions.
  • Lack of enthusiasm.
  • Absenteeism.
  • Lateness.
  • Less initiative.

Eventually, the employee may resign or have to take sick leave due to increasingly poor mental health. This will impact businesses in terms of recruitment and training costs as well as increasing the pressure on other employees who have to provide cover.

How can managers help to reduce quiet quitting?

Line managers are not only best placed for spotting signs of quiet quitting, they’re on the front line when it comes to promoting mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, as they're often the first point of contact when employees face challenges and can significantly influence the work environment.

Effective managers can:

  • Foster open communication: Managers who encourage dialogue can help employees feel heard and understood, reducing feelings of disconnect or dissatisfaction.
  • Recognise and address signs of poor mental health: Managers with mental health training can identify issues early and guide employees towards appropriate resources.
  • Create a balanced workload: Overwork is a common cause of stress and burnout. Managers need to ensure workloads are manageable and deadlines reasonable.
  • Provide positive feedback: Regular, constructive feedback can boost employee morale and engagement, reducing the likelihood of quiet quitting.

Line managers are also responsible for looking after employees who work from home, which means it’s now become essential to manage the wellbeing and motivation of remote teams. You can find out more about successfully managing hybrid working by reading our article: Can hybrid working balance business needs and employee wellbeing?

How Altruist can help

We’ve helped over 500 organisations support their workforce’s wellbeing through mental health awareness training. This leads to happier, more engaged, and more productive workforces.

To prevent quiet quitting, there needs to be a balance of giving line managers the tools for identifying and addressing mental health issues, while giving employees the support they need to manage their own stress levels and build their resilience. Managers also need to be equipped with the skills to manage the wellbeing and motivation of remote teams.

To support businesses in achieving this, we offer online courses for:

We also offer face-to-face training. For businesses looking to review their overall mental health provision, we also provide Workplace Wellbeing Consultancy to help you craft and deliver an employee wellbeing strategy to help create a healthy, positive work environment for all.

Sarah Woods

Sarah is Operations Manager at Altruist Enterprises responsible for marketing, people and processes as well as working with Katie on strategy. She has spent most of her career as a marketing manager in professional services, supporting managing partners with structuring and growing their business areas. Sarah enjoys meeting and working with people from different backgrounds who all have unique skills. She gets pleasure from developing the individual talents of those she manages.

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