What is behind the quiet quitting and loud quitting phenomena?

What is behind the phenomenon of quiet and loud quitting? asks Lucie Mitchell. And how can employers avoid it?

Resign from your job

 

First it was ‘quiet quitting’, now it’s ‘loud quitting’. These are the latest viral HR trends that have seen employees putting in the minimum effort at work, live-quitting on social media, or even hiring their own independent HR consultants because they don’t trust their company’s HR department.

While they are different by definition, both trends reveal disgruntled or disengaged employees who aren’t shy about taking matters into their own hands, or taking more control when it comes to HR-related issues.

So, the question is, should HR be concerned about this and how should it best be managed? Well, first let’s look at what we mean by quiet and loud quitting and why they are gaining traction.

Quiet quitting

Quiet quitting is when an employee becomes disconnected from their work and does the bare minimum in their job, with very little enthusiasm or effort. They may be reluctant to take on additional tasks or attend meetings, and have generally ‘quit’ the idea of going above and beyond.

The trend appears to have gathered pace since the pandemic, when many workers began to question their work-life balance and re-evaluate their experience of work. According to a 2024 report by Towergate Health & Protection, quiet quitting tops the list of employee-related problems currently faced by businesses, with 35% of employers citing this as a significant issue in the workplace.

Loud quitting

On the other end of the scale, employees who loud quit actually want to leave their jobs and are doing so in a particularly dramatic or vocal way, for example, by announcing publicly to colleagues or on social media that they don’t intend to stick around for much longer. Some employees will film themselves resigning and then post the video online later, while others will live stream their resignation on TikTok – otherwise known as ‘QuitTok’.

“We have seen a trend of individuals sharing their redundancy or termination journeys online and, in some cases, such as in the US, even live streaming their virtual termination meetings,” comments Emma O’Connor, head of training at Boyes Turner. “Why this is will be multi-faceted and may have much to do with a desire on some people’s part to share their lives online for likes or follows.”

Why are they growing trends?

“Leaving aside any arguments that this is about self-promotion or the trappings of social media, perhaps there is a growing sense that people want more from their ‘employee experience’; they do not just want to be seen as a commodity that is hired and fired at whim, but rather that they are individuals,” remarks O’Connor. “Sharing their termination journeys may allow people to take control of what is happening to them, as well as show corporations that employees have feelings too and that it is ‘not ok’ to coldly dismiss people.”

These trends reflect a broader shift in workplace dynamics, remarks Kelly Tucker, managing director of HR Star. “Employees are less willing to tolerate unfavourable conditions and more determined to ensure their wellbeing and job satisfaction. The increased use of social media has further amplified their voices, enabling them to advocate for change more publicly and effectively.

“Some employees may also go as far as to hire an independent HR consultant,” she adds. “By doing so, they seek an unbiased perspective on the situation, and they can ensure sensitive information remains confidential for both employee and employer.”

Kate Palmer, employment services director at Peninsula, acknowledges that you can’t please everyone all the time. “Employers have always had to deal with some of the workforce who are not happy about a decision or a policy. It’s nothing new. But over recent years we’ve seen the pandemic, cost-of-living crisis and a greater awareness of the importance of wellbeing and mental health, all of which may be contributing to employees either quiet quitting or loud quitting when something happens at work that they don’t agree with.”

What are the risks?

These workplace behaviours do cause some concern for HR, especially if they uncover some deeper-rooted issues within the company. Also, quiet quitting can have a negative impact on productivity, while loud quitting can be damaging to the employer brand as well as the employee’s professional reputation.

“Employers already deal with online reviews through recruitment and other websites, so bad feedback is nothing new to them,” says O’Connor. “What is different now is that information is being live streamed or posted in real time, rather than a bland online review; and the stories that are being posted are more personal and of course visual. Also, we should not forget that information relating to dismissals or business performance could be confidential and highly sensitive.”

There is also the cultural aspect to this, she adds. “Do people want to work in a business where people feel undervalued? What does it say about a business if people are live streaming their dismissals? How can businesses recruit and retain the best talent if this is what they see online? Employers need to think carefully about their culture and employer brand and ask themselves whether the workplace they have created is welcoming, inclusive and supportive.”

Both trends stem from an employee having workplace issues, remarks Palmer. “Depending upon what the issue is, there is a risk that it could result in an employment tribunal claim being brought against the company. Both trends could cause unrest in the workplace, disruption and bad press. It could also be difficult for some employers to identify what the specific issues are in order to bring about any effective change. This is because with both trends there is a lack of communication directly with the employer.”

How can HR manage it?

There are a few measures that HR can implement to try to avoid their employees quiet quitting or loud quitting.

“Looking at the root cause is likely to be a good first step,” advises Paul Holcroft, managing director at Croner. “Assessing the workplace and understanding the concerns that employees have should help HR take steps to address unhappiness at work. Looking at ways to engage the workforce and make sure that they are fulfilled in their role will also help.”

Tucker recommends employers improve communication and feedback through regular check-ins between managers and employees, so there is dedicated time to discuss progress and address any concerns.

“Additionally, clearly communicating company goals and expectations to all employees builds trust and reduces uncertainty,” she adds. “Plus, implementing ways to recognise and reward employees’ hard work and achievements ensures that all employees feel respected and part of the team.”

The best way of preventing employees from resorting to quiet or loud quitting strategies is to focus on creating a positive workplace culture built on trust, transparency and employee wellbeing, suggests Sophie Bryan, founder at Ordinarily Different. “By providing opportunities for professional development and recognition, you can boost employee morale and reduce the likelihood of them pursuing unconventional quitting tactics.”



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