Quiet Quitting: The Business Crisis You Can’t Afford To Ignore
As the pandemic continues to drag on, we are all paying attention to the Great Resignation.
But what about a lesser-known phenomenon that’s just as big of a problem? I’m talking about Quiet Quitting (also known as the Hidden Resignation), the millions of team members who are unhappy with their jobs but are staying even though they feel they’re overworked, overwhelmed, lonely and just plain burned out.
It’s true: these people don’t quit in the traditional sense. They stick around for months or years without asking for more money or demanding more vacation days. In fact, many of them stay at their jobs even when they know they don’t want to be there anymore! Why? Because they’re terrified of having to find another job—and because they’re afraid that being unemployed will make them less employable later down the line.
With this in mind, it’s time for a new way forward for our teams. We need better support systems for those who are struggling with work stress and exhaustion—and we need to be shop owners who recognize that it’s not always easy to walk away from your current gig (or find another one) when you have bills to pay and family obligations at home.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 52% of the team members who are still in their jobs feel they have had to take on more work and more responsibility. 30% say they are struggling to get the work done and management doesn’t see it or just doesn’t care. 28% say they feel alone even though they are surrounded by a crew of people! In fact, according to SHRM, 70% of team members have been forced into quiet quitting because they feel overwhelmed with the demands being placed on them in the workplace.
Quiet quitting is a very real problem that can damage your business if left unchecked. It’s not just about how many people leave—it’s about how many people stay but stop performing well. It can be incredibly difficult for Shop Owners to diagnose quiet quitting because it looks like normal job performance until it gets worse over time or until it becomes obvious that something isn’t working out in the shop environment.
Quiet Quitters are sitting on the front counter or even scarier—are technicians under cars right now, disengaged, fearful, burned-out, and suffering in silence because they are afraid of making a change. And afraid of making waves.
When we look at this phenomenon from a different angle—one that has nothing to do with numbers and everything to do with caring—we realize something important: lower employee engagement equals loss of productivity, creativity, and profitability.
To use a car analogy – your business gas gauge is bouncing on “E”. Does your business have a crisis? Not just any old crisis, but one that could literally put you out of business. Absolutely. Then you need to pay attention to quiet quitting. It’s a problem that is present in shops today and it has everything to do with caring.
Quiet quitting happens when team members stop caring about their jobs—and it can happen for several reasons. Maybe the work isn’t engaging or meaningful enough. Maybe there are no opportunities for growth or development. Maybe team members feel undervalued or unappreciated. Whatever the case, quiet quitting happens when people get bored and disengaged with their work—but that doesn’t mean they’re ready to quit outright!
When people start mentally and emotionally dropping out of your workforce, it can have devastating effects on your business—and it’s something you should be prepared to address quickly. Why? Because quiet quitting is a serious issue that has been getting worse over the past few years, and one that could potentially put your company in jeopardy if left unchecked.
The good news is that there are steps you can take to combat quiet quitting and nip it in the bud.
First – It’s time to get real.
The days of handing out motivational posters and telling your team members to “stay positive” are over. We all know that the modern workplace is rife with stress, anxiety, and burnout. And while it’s easy to just throw up our hands and say, “Well, that’s just how things are,” I believe there’s a better way forward.
It all comes down to caring—both on your part as an employer and on your team members’ part as workers. Caring means getting real: Your team members need to know that you see them and that you genuinely want to help them succeed personally as well as professionally. And the only way you can show them that is by actually helping them!
I know it’s not always easy for you to stay engaged in the workplace. You have a million other things going on in your life, and sometimes you just want to go home after work and forget about the shop. But I’m here to tell you that it is absolutely worth it—not just for your own sanity, but for the health of your business, too.
When I’m talking about engagement, I’m talking about what keeps people coming back to the shop day after day. It’s not always about money or promotions; it’s about feeling like you’re doing meaningful work that matters to you and others around you. The more engaged you are with your job—the more connected you feel with its mission—the more likely you are to come back every day and do your best work.
If your company can’t afford this kind of engagement, then guess what? Your company is going down faster than an anchor-less boat in a hurricane! Why? Because high levels of engagement have been linked to higher productivity, stronger customer service ratings, lower attrition rates… basically everything good for business resulting in a bigger, fatter, bottom line.
Next, you must let your team members know that their unique contributions matter to you and to your business as a whole.
It’s a fact: people don’t like their jobs.
And that’s not just because they’re lazy, or because they’re spoiled. It’s because most of us are wired to want to make an impact and contribute value every day, even if we’re just answering phones or fixing cars. We want to feel like we’re contributing to the world around us in some way.
So, it stands to reason that if you can help your team members see how their work helps people and makes a difference in the community around them, they’ll be more motivated to come in each morning and give you their best efforts.
When you’re the boss, it’s easy to forget that your team members are people. You see them as a resource, or an obstacle, or a number on the balance sheet. But when your team members feel like they don’t matter, they stop caring about the work they do—or worse yet, they stop caring about the company itself.
And that’s when things start going south.
Whether it’s because of internal strife or external competition, there are plenty of reasons why you might be struggling to keep your business afloat right now. But we’d like to suggest one more: that your team members feel like they’re not being recognized for what they bring to the table.
It’s not just about giving them raises or bonuses—it’s about letting them know that their unique contributions matter to you and your organization. When an employee gets recognized for their unique contribution, everyone around them sees that person as an individual with a story, not just another face in the crowd. Recognition can be as simple as saying “thanks” when an employee does something nice for someone else or goes above and beyond their job description.
If you want to avoid getting into a crisis situation at work, make sure everyone knows how much their hard work matters!
Last but not least: show up!
You may think team members don’t notice when you’re there or not there… but really? They do! Employees WANT someone who cares about what’s happening at work. They want to feel like they matter to someone, and that there’s a person at the top who cares about them as people and not just as team members. If you’re too busy to make time in your day to stop by and say hello or ask how things are going, it sends the message that your team members are expendable. And guess what? They’ll act accordingly.
So, make time for your team members—really make time for them. Show up in person (not over email!) every day. Ask them how things are going and listen to their answers without interrupting or talking over them. Really listen! The more you show up and engage with them personally, the more they’ll trust that they matter to you as individuals, not just cogs in a machine.
So, what does the future hold for your business? The answer is simple: it depends on how you react to the crisis.
If you take steps to rise to the challenge now, you can reverse the current trends and create a new, upward-swinging trend of building up even more star players and seeing them shine more brightly than ever before.
It’s all up to you.
If you would like more information on how to keep your team happy and un-poachable, go to www.180biz.com/quitting for free access to my recorded webinar, “Making Your Team Unpoachable”.
Rick White is a business-turnaround and exponential growth expert who helps auto repair shop owners go from struggling to stay open to being recognized as the go-to shops in their market. He helps business owners with average shops transform their shop into the shop of the year in this industry.