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Navigating quiet quitters

Arielle Gordis 10 min read
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Workplace trends

Hollywood actors are joining writers on the picket line

160,000 actors, announcers, and game show hosts are going on strike. Their union, SAG-AFTRA, didn’t reach a deal with the studios by the imposed deadline, so they’re joining the Writers Guild of America (WGA), which has already been striking for the last three months, halting most U.S. film and TV productions. This marks the first time writers and actors have been on strike at the same time in more than 60 years. Both groups are demanding better pay, as streaming transforms the entertainment landscape, and assurances that studios won’t replace them with AI. According to insiders, studios appear ready to play hardball and executives don’t seem interested in meeting with Writers Guild representatives to negotiate right now.

Canadian court ruled that 👍 can be a contractual agreement

A Canadian court found that sending the thumbs up emoji can affirm that a person is officially entering into a contract. The case questioned whether a farmer had agreed to sell flax to a grain buyer who had signed the contract and texted a photo of it with the caption “please confirm flax contract” to the farmer. The farmer had texted back a “thumbs-up” emoji, which the judge ruled sufficient for a valid contract agreement by both parties, especially given their prior business relationship. Experts explain that the legal test for contract agreement centers on how a reasonable person would interpret the signs that both parties gave, so given that, for most intents and purposes, a reasonable person would think that the person giving the thumbs-up agreed to the contract, it fits into the legal doctrine that the courts have established. As individuals increasingly use emojis to express themselves, even in serious business dealings, the ruling reflects new communication questions that courts will have to confront.

The AI corner

Meet the first US law over AI bias in hiring tools

With AI bots increasingly playing bigger roles in hiring decisions, a New York City law just took effect to ensure the bots don’t have racist or sexist bias. This law, which is the first-of-its-kind, requires companies to notify job candidates who live in NYC that AI is being used in the hiring process and let them request information on the data that’s being collected. It also mandates that companies conduct yearly independent audits of any AI tools used to make employment decisions in order to ensure there’s no discrimination based on sex, race, or ethnicity, and to publish those results to determine whether the tools disproportionately impact specific groups. Businesses that fail to comply can face fines up to $1,500 per violation per day. Experts suggest that this law offers a useful model for policies across the U.S. as other states draft AI legislation.

OpenAI is getting investigated by the FTC

The Federal Trade Commission has opened an investigation into OpenAI, the artificial intelligence start-up that developed ChatGPT, over whether the chatbot has harmed consumers through its collection of data as well as its publication of false and misleading information. This investigation reflects the first major U.S. regulatory threat to one of the highest-profile A.I. companies, signaling that the technology may increasingly come under more scrutiny as people, businesses, and governments continue to utilize A.I. tools. OpenAI has already faced regulatory pressure internationally with Italy’s data protection authority banning the bot for unlawfully collecting personal data from users and not having an age-verification system in place. Sam Altman, who leads OpenAI, tweeted that he’s confident OpenAI follows the law and will work with the agency.

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Navigating quiet quitters


According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace 2023 Report, a significant number of employees across the globe are “quiet quitting,” which means they’re putting in the minimum effort required, they’re psychologically disconnected, and they’re more likely to feel stressed and burnt out.

And while it’s undeniably difficult to navigate unengaged workers, these employees offer a massive opportunity to increase productivity and drive greater economic growth. Gallup estimates that low engagement costs the global economy $8.8 trillion annually, and that the quiet quitters on your team are often just waiting for a leader to connect with them, encourage them, and inspire them. That’s where you come in.

As a leader, you have the power to truly impact the way your employees feel at work. In fact, 70% of the variance in team engagement is determined solely by the manager, per Gallup, which means that what you do to address the needs of any quiet quitters on your team can really make a difference.

So, here are some tips to navigate quiet quitters:

Be observant

Pay close attention to your employees’ behaviors, attitudes, and performances. If you notice a change in someone’s behavior or feel they’re pulling back from their work, take note. Try to put that shift or disconnect into words that you can later reference in a conversation. Ask yourself questions like, when did I start noticing a change? What seems to be different? Has this happened before? What have I tried so far? Does anything seem to help? If relevant, chat with other people who may oversee the team members’ work to find out if they’ve noticed anything out of the ordinary as well. This way, when it comes time to have a conversation with the respective team members, you are prepared and can effectively guide the conversation toward solutions.

Have open and honest conversation

Set up one-on-one meetings with any employees you suspect may be quiet quitting to check in. Really try to create space for them to feel safe expressing what’s going on by emphasizing that you’re here for them and asking open-ended questions to encourage honesty, such as:

  • How are you feeling about your work and the projects you’re involved in right now?
  • How would you describe your motivation and enthusiasm for your work recently?
  • Have there been any changes in your work environment or team dynamics that are impacting your engagement?
  • How do you feel about your workload and work-life balance?
  • Do you feel like you have enough opportunities for growth and development?
  • Do you feel that your skills and strengths are fully utilized in your current role?

Is there anything specific that I can do to better support you?
These kinds of questions can open the door to genuine feedback, help you identify what may be triggering the quiet quitting, and signal to your employees that you’re committed to ensuring they have a positive work experience.

Personalize solutions

Once you understand what’s likely causing the quiet quitting, carve out time with your team members to discuss tangible solutions. Remember that each employee may have unique circumstances contributing to their quiet quitting, so a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t the answer – you need to tailor your fixes to each employee’s needs and situations.

For example, if you find that the disengagement is the result of an overwhelming workload, sit down with the employee to discuss how they can set effective boundaries, review all of their responsibilities together, help them prioritize their tasks, and identify projects that can be delegated to others when relevant. And if you find the quiet quitting is related to an employee’s desire to improve their work-life balance, be clear that you want your employees to set healthy boundaries and prioritize their well-being. Highlight the importance of taking time off and unplugging at the end of the work-day and emphasize that working long hours isn’t what it takes to be successful on your team – what matters most is the quality of the work your employees deliver.

Set clear expectations

Sometimes quiet quitting is the result of a lack of perceived growth opportunities, so be proactive and do your best to set clear benchmarks for your team about what it takes to get promoted to a more senior position. What does it mean to meet expectations? What constitutes exceeding expectations? The more you can outline key milestones to reach, establish quantitative KPIs, and define the kinds of contributions that are expected in order to take that next step, the better. Remember that people talk, so it’s essential to remain consistent in the expectations you share and to create a clear standard for growth so that there’s a cross-team sense that processes are straightforward and logical.

Additionally, make sure to give your employees real opportunities to shine – if they don’t have the chance to prove themselves and make an impact, your expectations could be perceived as unfair and unrealistic.

Recognize and celebrate achievements

One of the greatest ways to drive more engagement is to really recognize your team members for their positive contributions and impact. Recent research by Quantum Workplace found that more than 50% of employees want more recognition from their immediate managers and that when employees believe they will be recognized, they are 2.7x more likely to be highly engaged. And it makes sense: when employees receive recognition for the work they do, it signals a level of job mastery and really helps them feel valued. So, do your best to give frequent, authentic, and specific credit to your team members when they do something great.

Follow up

Regardless of the reason for the quiet quitting, work with your team members to identify potential solutions together, and then follow up. Pay attention to whether you’ve seen any shifts in their behavior or energy since you started making changes. Similarly, during one-on-one meetings, check in and ask them how things are going. Emphasize that you’re committed to building a positive, healthy, and meaningful experience for them at work and that you always want them to feel comfortable coming to you when something needs to be addressed.

Water cooler chatter

The Toronto Zoo wants visitors to stop showing gorillas content from their phones. The zoo is particularly worried about a teenage gorilla named Nassir, who seems especially distracted by the videos and photos visitors are showing him.

“For the wellbeing of gorilla troop, please refrain from showing them any videos or photos as some content can be upsetting and affect their relationships and behaviour within their family.”
Signs at the Toronto Zoo

Scientists have created the whitest paint in the world to combat rising temperatures. The white paint bounces 98% of the sun’s rays away from the Earth’s surface, up through the atmosphere and into deep space. It can make surfaces as much as eight °F cooler than ambient air temperatures at midday, and up to 19°F cooler at night. These results can reduce temperatures inside buildings and decrease air-conditioning needs by as much as 40%.

"We weren’t really trying to develop the world’s whitest paint… We wanted to see if it was possible to help save energy while cooling down the Earth."
Xiulin Ruan, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University

Just for laughs

Navigating quiet quitters
Arielle is a writer and storyteller currently serving as a content marketing manager at When she’s not busy writing, you can find her walking outside for hours on end or planning her next travel adventure.

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