What to do about Quiet Quitting

by | Nov 27, 2023 | Take 5 Articles

Exactly how miserable are your employees?

There’s a good chance they are more unhappy than you think.

Job dissatisfaction is at unprecedented levels. Two-thirds of Canadian workers are “quiet quitting” (putting in the minimum effort required because they are psychologically disconnected from their employer), according to a 2022 Gallup survey. A further 13 percent are “loud quitting” (openly expressing their dissatisfaction toward an employer when they quit).

If your employees fall into either of these camps, you’ve got a problem. A disengaged workforce means higher levels of absenteeism and turnover. It costs six to nine months of an employee’s salary to replace them, according to research by the Society for Human Resource Management.

Experts agree that the pandemic is at the root of the increase in job dissatisfaction. It’s been a major interrupter in people’s work lives, changing how employees expect to be treated by employers, creating a desire for increased autonomy, and causing many to crave greater work-life balance in the face of increased stress, burnout, depression and anxiety. 

Take 5 for Wellness spoke to Darcy Michaud, Vice-President of HR Services at HR Covered, and Brian Brophy, a benefits advisor and principal at Selectpath, for their advice on what plan sponsors can do to mitigate quiet quitting.

Engage with your employees

 “The idea of an open-door policy may sound clichéd, but it’s exactly what employers need to do,” says Michaud. “If you want to combat quiet quitting head-on, you need to be proactive and encourage open communication.”

Anonymous employee surveys can be a good way to get honest feedback, but “make sure the questions you ask are about things you are actually willing to follow through on,” he says.

Allow for autonomy

Many CEOs want their employees back in the office, but the majority of workers aren’t keen on the idea—78 percent say they prefer working from home, according to a recent survey of 6,600 workers by the Environics Institute in partnership with the Future Skills Centre and the Diversity Institute at Toronto Metropolitan University.

One vice president of HR told me she couldn’t believe the pushback her firm was getting from employees who were being asked to come back into the office just one day a week,” says Brophy. 

Michaud agrees that back-to-work edicts are creating a push-pull scenario between employers and their workers. “The number of harassment claims we had to deal with when people were called back to work was astronomical,” he says. “For some people, it feels like Big Brother is watching.”

When done right, a hybrid model that combines working at home and on-site can satisfy both sides. “If employers want people to come into the office, they should make sure it’s for team-based work, not work they can easily do at home,” says Michaud.

Reassess your benefits

Companies have ramped up benefits, especially healthcare spending accounts, wellness accounts, paramedical, and group retirement plans,” says Brophy. “For example, all of our clients who didn’t have a group retirement plan before the pandemic now have one.” Dental maximums have already increased, from $1,000 or $1,500 to $2,000 annually. 

Michaud says some companies are waiving the typical three-month wait time for benefits to kick in. “This is mostly happening at the executive level, not so much with rank-and-file employees—except in the tech sector, which is always ahead of the game.”

Boost mental health support

Rates of depression and anxiety skyrocketed during and since the pandemic. Personal crises can result in quiet quitting if people are too embarrassed to ask for support or don’t know where to turn. It’s more important than ever that workplaces openly communicate their support for mental health, and back that up with easy-to-access, confidential services.

Virtual services can be a meaningful pathway for care: the 2023 Benefits Canada Healthcare Survey found that 50 percent of plan members diagnosed with a mental health condition used virtual care in the past year, well ahead of the overall average (34 percent). It also found that 29 percent of plan sponsors currently include a virtual care platform in their benefits plan—which means there is plenty of room for growth.

Mental health training should also be a core strategy for employers. Providers have evolved to include virtual training with user-friendly platforms, such as Calgary-based headversity, says Brophy. “The goal is to circumvent short- and long-term disability claims by training managers and employees on how to be more resilient and how to cope with challenges before they occur.”

For plan sponsors with an employee assistance program, Michaud urges them to work with their benefits advisor to update its offerings. “For some companies, it’s been years or even decades since they reviewed their employee assistance plans.”