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July 7, 2022

Several months ago, I introduced the concept of “stay quitting,” and no, that’s not a typo. Stay-quitting does not refer to a constant cycle of starting something and never finishing it; stay-quitting is when you are physically present in a situation or place, yet mentally disengaged or distant. It’s like being on autopilot, going through the motions without truly being mentally present. This state of being can often lead to feelings of disconnect and lack of fulfillment, highlighting the importance of being fully engaged in our daily activities and interactions.

While the term might not ring a bell immediately, you will likely recognize the behaviors associated with someone who tends to stay quieter in your business environment. This individual may often listen more than speak during meetings, prefer working independently, and contribute thoughtful insights when they do share their thoughts. Understanding and appreciating different communication styles can lead to a more inclusive and effective work environment.

What is a stay-quitter?

In short, stay-quitting is an age-old behavior of employees who have had enough but are still working for you likely for the paycheck. They get their work done. usually nothing more, nothing less. They will do just enough to keep their job but nothing more than required because they have mentally checked out. Stay-quitters are the folks who feel undervalued, underappreciated and disempowered. They started off as a great employee, but something happened! These people can sometimes show up as aloof or have an attitude. Maybe they are quiet and keep to themselves, eat lunch by themselves, or claim to always be too busy with work. They disengage with the team and company events.

But this doesn’t happen overnight. Like anything else, it happens over time. While the reasons behind an individual becoming a stay-quitter may vary, it is important for employers to be aware of the signs and address underlying issues before they escalate into bigger problems.

How does stay-quitting happen?

While typically driven by disempowerment or feeling undervalued, stay-quitting can be the catalyst of many different things. It usually starts with someone or a group of people who speak up about something they believe not to be right. This initial step of voicing concerns often leads to discussions, reflections, and potential actions that may result in positive changes within the environment or organization. The process of stay-quitting can create an avenue for constructive dialogue, fostering a culture of transparency and empowerment where individuals feel heard and valued. However, if these concerns are not addressed or acknowledged, individuals can start to feel disillusioned and disconnected from their work, leading them to mentally check out.

In business, this could be several things such as a cumbersome process. Don’t roll your eyes yet; when it takes someone 4x longer to accomplish a task that should take no time at all, it will begin to stir up negative emotions. This is not a touchy-feely, let’s talk about emotions. This is something that happens internally in their minds and shows up externally as annoyed, frustrated, exhausted, or overworked. It could be an employee who finishes a task and has to wait all the time for approval to continue on with their work. When you ask for approvals all the time, it can come off as you don’t trust them to do their job, especially when approval is required for every single thing and that isn’t necessary.

They’ve just begun stay-quitting. A few things can happen from this point. They stay out of necessity and download something off the internet like an app to help speed things up at work while they update their resume.

Why should employers address stay-quitting?

Employers should be concerned about the prevalence of stay-quitting in their organization because it can have negative effects on productivity, employee morale, and overall company culture. When employees mentally check out, they are not fully engaged in their work, which can lead to a decrease in productivity and quality of work. This can also create a negative atmosphere for other employees who may feel the strain of picking up the slack or working with disengaged team members.

It can also lead to high turnover rates, as employees who feel undervalued and disengaged are more likely to look for opportunities elsewhere. This can result in increased costs for the company, as well as a loss of valuable talent and institutional knowledge.

Employers must address stay-quitting in their organization by fostering an inclusive and empowering work environment where employees feel valued, heard, and supported. This can be achieved through open communication channels, recognition and appreciation programs, and addressing any underlying issues that may lead to disengagement.

Stay-quitting is a common but detrimental behavior in the workplace that can have negative effects on both employees and employers. Recognizing the signs and taking steps to address it can lead to a more engaged, productive, and fulfilling work environment for all. By promoting a culture of transparency, empowerment, and open communication, employers can create an environment where employees feel valued and motivated to actively participate in their work.

How does staying quiet affect workplace dynamics?

When employees are not fully engaged in their work, it can have a ripple effect on the entire team and company culture. Stay-quitters may not contribute their full potential or ideas, leading to missed opportunities for innovation and growth. Their disengagement can also create a negative atmosphere in the workplace, impacting overall morale and productivity.

It is crucial for employers to recognize the signs of stay-quitting and take steps to address the underlying issues. This could include providing opportunities for open communication, showing appreciation and recognition for employees’ work, and addressing any processes or policies that may be causing disempowerment.

Some other drivers…

Antiquated technology can show up in several ways. It can be technology that is just old and outdated, no longer serving the company, the employees, or their clients. It can also show up as great technology that you have simply outgrown. Yes, you can outgrow technology, which means it works fine, but you must have a few additional pieces of technology in order to complete a job correctly like storing all supporting data and documents, etc. This usually also means there is no real single source of truth. This can contribute to your team feeling overworked, having to manage many different technological sources of information, and most importantly, remembering to update them all when some component changes with the data.

Leadership is another component. It can be the style in which you manage your team, the way you deliver your message, or your tone that can make all the difference in those under your leadership. Imagine someone who is explosive when they don’t get what they want. How do you think your team feels about their work, value, or the company? It quickly becomes a stressful environment.

Stay-quitting can be a result of poor customer experience. Take a guess who gets to hear about it, and then try to resolve those issues. In environments where the customer experience is poor, it will create an environment where putting out fires will look like the desired state. Customer feedback gives your customers the power to share their experiences that are needed to improve your product or service.

Stay-quitting is a common behavior that can have detrimental effects on both the individual employee and the company as a whole. By understanding the signs and potential causes of stay-quitting, employers can take proactive steps to create an inclusive and engaging work environment for their employees. This not only benefits the employees but also leads to a more successful and productive company. So, it is important for employers to actively listen to their employees, address any issues, and make necessary changes to foster a positive and motivated workplace culture. By doing so, they can prevent stay-quitting and encourage their employees to thrive in their roles. Remember that it is never too late to address these issues and create a better work environment for your team. Let’s strive for a workplace where employees feel empowered, valued, and motivated to do their best work every day.

Let’s stay vigilant for signs of employee disengagement and address issues promptly. By nurturing open communication, valuing feedback, and offering growth opportunities, employers can prevent disengagement and cultivate a positive workplace culture. Our goal is to not only retain but empower our employees to excel, driving our company’s success. While employee disengagement is common, proactive measures and a supportive environment can minimize its impact, fostering a more motivated and committed workforce. Let’s stay attentive, listen to our employees, and act to create an environment where everyone can thrive. We all possess the ability to positively influence our organizations, so let’s leverage it to cultivate a supportive and empowering workplace culture for ourselves and our teams.

In conclusion, when faced with high turnover or encountering a persistent stay-quitter, it’s crucial to go beyond mere conversations or financial incentives. They seek not just acknowledgment but tangible transformation. Uncovering the underlying cause, often not readily apparent even to the individual seeking change, becomes imperative.

Still have questions, connect with one of our experts today, and we can help you figure out the right next steps.