In today’s demanding work environment, it’s easy to find yourself feeling less enthusiastic about your job. You may start to disengage slowly, doing just enough to get by without fully investing in yourself.

This phenomenon, known as quiet quitting, is more common than you might think. Unlike formally resigning, quiet quitting involves a gradual withdrawal from work responsibilities and a decline in effort.

This can happen without you even realising it, as it often starts subtly and grows over time.

In this article, I discuss ‘quiet quitting’, why it happens, how to recognise it, and what to do about it.

In the extended YouTube version of this article, I also discuss 6 strategies to use if you recognise you’re quietly quitting. You can watch it here.

Understanding the Psychological Contract

To grasp why quiet quitting happens, it’s essential to understand the concept of the psychological contract, which is often discussed in human resources.

This is an unwritten, informal set of expectations and obligations between you and your employer.

It includes things like mutual respect, job security, opportunities for advancement, and a reasonable workload. When these expectations are met, you likely feel motivated and engaged.

However, when there is a perceived breach in this contract—such as feeling undervalued, overworked, or unsupported—it can lead to dissatisfaction and disengagement.

In my experience of almost 20 years in HR, followed by a 15-year career as an executive coach, once the psychological contract has been broken, there’s no getting it back.

Signs You Might Be Quiet Quitting

Recognising quiet quitting in yourself can be challenging, as it often begins with small changes. Here are some signs that you might be quietly ‘checking out’ from your job:

  1. Minimal Engagement: You participate less in meetings, offer fewer suggestions and avoid taking on new responsibilities. You do the bare minimum and no longer seek to contribute beyond your basic job requirements.

  2. Reduced Initiative: You no longer volunteer for new projects or tasks and avoid taking the lead on assignments. Your focus is on completing only what’s necessary without any additional effort.

  3. Declining Performance: Your work quality decreases, and you make more mistakes than usual. You might miss deadlines or produce work that isn’t up to your usual standards.

  4. Increased Absenteeism: You take more sick or personal days and find reasons to be away from work. Even when present, you might be mentally checked out, doing non-work-related activities during work hours.

  5. Lack of Interest in Professional Development: You stop pursuing opportunities for growth, such as training sessions, workshops, or seeking feedback from colleagues. You no longer set career goals or strive for improvement.

The Psychological Impact of Quiet Quitting

Quiet quitting doesn’t just affect your work; it also has significant psychological effects. As you disengage, you may start to feel frustrated, helpless, and even resentful. Your self-esteem can suffer as you begin to view yourself as less capable or less valuable.

This disengagement can also spill over into other areas of your life, impacting your relationships and overall well-being.

Quietly checking out can also create a negative feedback loop. As your performance declines, you may receive negative feedback from your manager or peers, which can further demotivate you and reinforce your feelings of disconnection.

Why Do We Quietly Quit?

Understanding why you might be quietly checking out is crucial to addressing it. Several factors can contribute to your disengagement:

  1. Lack of Recognition: It’s easy to lose motivation when your efforts are not acknowledged or rewarded. Feeling unappreciated can lead to resentment and a lack of effort.

  2. Poor Management: Ineffective or unsupportive managers can make you feel undervalued and overlooked. A lack of clear communication and feedback can also contribute to disengagement. In a recent article, I discussed why managers should never cancel or postpone 1:2:1 meetings and always check in with quieter or more introverted employees—you can read it here.

  3. Unrealistic Expectations: High demands without adequate support or resources can lead to burnout. When you’re consistently overworked and stressed, disengaging can seem like a coping mechanism.

  4. Lack of Growth Opportunities: If you feel stuck in your role and have no clear path for advancement, you might lose interest in making extra effort.

  5. Mismatch of Values: When your personal values no longer align with your company’s culture or practices, it can create a sense of disconnection and dissatisfaction.

This mismatch of values is the No. 1 reason clients come to me for career coaching outside of outplacement and redeployment. They will often tell me, ‘I hate my job; I need to leave.’ My role, then, is to establish whether they do, indeed, hate their job or whether there has been a fundamental values clash between them, their manager, or other leaders within the organisation.

Frequently, I find it’s the latter. Typically, they have had either a change of immediate line manager or a change in CEO/MD/Director who has their own way of doing things. Although the organisation may have values printed on the wall or on its website, they aren’t evidenced through the behaviours and actions of the new regime.

Quietly Checking Out from Team Activities

One of the most apparent signs of quiet quitting is withdrawing from team activities and projects. This can manifest in various ways:

  1. Decreased Communication: You might stop engaging in informal conversations or avoid team-building activities. You may contribute less in meetings or avoid them altogether.

  2. Avoiding Collaboration: You prefer working alone and avoid collaborative projects. You might hesitate to share ideas or feedback with your team.

  3. Reduced Social Interaction: Participation in social events, whether in-person or virtual, becomes infrequent. You might make excuses to skip team lunches, after-work gatherings, or other social activities.

The Broader Impact on the Organisation

By actively engaging with quieter employees and prioritising regular 1:1s, managers can foster a more inclusive, supportive, and productive work environment. The benefits extend beyond individual employees to the entire organisation:

  1. Enhanced Innovation: Quieter employees often have unique perspectives and creative ideas. Regular 1:1s provide a platform for these ideas to be heard and implemented, driving innovation.

  2. Improved Team Dynamics: When all team members feel valued and heard, overall team dynamics improve. This leads to better collaboration, communication, and a more cohesive team.

  3. Increased Retention: Employees who feel supported and valued are more likely to stay with the organisation. This reduces turnover and retains valuable talent.

  4. Stronger Organisational Culture: Prioritising the well-being and development of all employees, including quieter ones, contributes to a positive organisational culture where everyone feels included, valued and respected.

The Wrap-Up

Quiet quitting is a subtle but significant issue that can creep into your professional life without you even realising it. Recognising the signs and understanding the underlying causes are crucial first steps in addressing your disengagement.

By reflecting on your job satisfaction, communicating with your manager, seeking professional development, setting personal goals, and evaluating your work-life balance, you can take proactive steps to re-engage with your work.

However, it’s worth pointing out that, in my experience, this type of quiet quitting often happens because deep down, you know it’s time to leave and move on, but on a subconscious level, finding a new job and leaving feels too scary and overwhelming. That’s when self-sabotage kicks in, and so you stop yourself from fully moving on by quiet quitting.

Finally, your well-being and fulfilment are essential, and taking action to address quiet quitting can lead to a more satisfying and productive career and that may well mean seeking employment elsewhere!

What Next?

If you need coaching support to deal with any of the issues I discuss in my articles, please email me at info@jobanks.net to arrange a 15-minute complimentary discovery call.

Again, in the extended YouTube version of this article, I also discuss 6 strategies to use if you recognise you may be quiet quitting. You can watch it here.

If you head over to YouTube, please do me the biggest favour by hitting the like, subscribe, and notification buttons. It seems so insignificant, but it really does make a HUGE difference in supporting me in delivering all the free content I publish. I’m just trying to make the world a better place!

Finally, if you enjoyed this article and haven’t yet signed up to get my weekly newsletter straight to your inbox, hit the ‘NEWSLETTER’ tab at the top of the page.

As always, thanks for your continued support.

FREE Guide, 'How to Hack Your Happy Hormones!'

Unlock exclusive insights and stay up-to-date with the latest news by subscribing to my newsletter today - your source for valuable content delivered straight to your inbox! 


Claim your FREE gift: Instantly access my 32-page 'Happy Hormones Hacks' mini-course, a £39.99 value, as a token of my appreciation!

You have Successfully Subscribed!