Four people sit on wooden benches in a large open room. The four people (a person in a denim jacket, a man in a tan sweater and khakis, a woman in a goldenrod blouse and jeans, and a woman with long hair who sits on the far right, out-of-focus and partially outside of the image) are applauding and smiling. The group's focus is on the woman in the goldenrod shirt, who has her hands clasped together in joy.
Whether it's done through public acknowledgement, a tangible reward, or a growth opportunity, recognition of work can act as a motivator by making your employees feel valued. — Getty Images/Luis Alvarez

While millions of Americans have left their jobs during the Great Resignation of the last two years, there are plenty more who stayed in their positions but “quietly quit.”

A study from LiveCareer found that 84% of employees surveyed said the idea of quiet quitting — that is, doing the bare minimum to retain employment but otherwise mentally “checking out” of a job — has made them rethink their relationship with work.

Why has quiet quitting come to the forefront in recent years? According to Craig Goodliffe, CEO of Cyberbacker, a polarized, post-pandemic world has left many workers feeling like their employer doesn’t care about them, and in turn, they stop caring about the company.

“When [people] don't feel valued, they don't feel like they are making a difference and … they emotionally submit to being disengaged,” said Goodliffe. “Companies have to adapt and work with people to feel valued and feel like they are making an impact on a frequent basis while feeling like they have something to look forward to.”

Kathleen Quinn Votaw, CEO of TalenTrust, said part of the issue is a lack of honesty in the workplace.

“Employees are trained to not tell their employers the truth and vice versa, so it is no surprise that employees are just fading away and doing whatever they want or whatever they care to do,” she said. “The tragedy is no one is noticing until the employee quits.”

[Read more: 10 Ways to Keep Your Employees Happy]

Tips for motivating potential ‘quiet quitters’

A workforce full of underperforming, disengaged employees isn’t an inevitability. However, as an employer, you have to be proactive if you want to prevent quiet quitting.

“Unfortunately you are more than likely too late if you notice someone quiet quitting,” Quinn Votaw told CO—. “They are likely gone and already … interviewing for a better situation. What companies need to do is check in … [before] things get tough.”

If you’re concerned about quiet quitting in your organization, try these strategies and techniques to re-energize employees before the issue takes root.

Respect your employees’ boundaries

Quiet quitting often occurs when an employee’s work demands greatly outweigh their personal time. To maintain a better equilibrium, set a hard cutoff for work calls, emails, and deadlines. When employees do have to put in extra time at work, make sure it is only a temporary measure and properly compensate them for going above and beyond. An indefinite workload increase will likely result in burnout and eventually, quiet quitting.

Companies have to adapt and work with people to feel valued and feel like they are making an impact on a frequent basis.

Craig Goodliffe, CEO of Cyberbacker

Provide growth opportunities

Quiet quitting might be a result of boredom or career stagnation, so providing growth opportunities can help avoid quiet (or actual) quitting. The best way to figure out the appropriate growth opportunity for an employee is to ask them about their passions. If an employee enjoys a particular task more than the others, reward excellent work with the opportunity to do more of that particular task.

Practice employee recognition

Employees frequently quiet-quit when they don’t feel appreciated. If you see an employee performing well and going above and beyond in their role, actively recognize them and reward it, either in a one-on-one meeting or a group setting.

Rewards can take many forms, including bonuses, gifts, time off, or awards, so ask your employees how they would most like to be rewarded for their efforts.

Openly communicate with your team about quiet quitting

Don’t wait for an employee to stop putting in the effort before you address quiet quitting. Sit down with an employee who seems disengaged and ask them why they are feeling that way.

“Ask the hard questions,” said Goodliffe. “Does the leader want them here? Do they want to be here? If the answer is ‘no’ to either one of those, then both parties owe it to themselves to explore different options. If they do want to be here … then it’s going to come down to the leader casting a new vision for the position in the company.”

Quinn Votaw agreed and advised leaders to be honest with the employee who seems to be quiet quitting.

“Are they happy? Do they need to forge a different path in life?” she said. “Don’t fear quiet quitting — talk about it, because often it will lead you to inviting that employee to leave and go find meaningful work that fills their soul.”

[Read more: How to Create Loyal Employees (and Why It Matters)]

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