Insights in your inbox


July 7, 2022

Several months ago, I introduced the concept of “stay quitting,” and no, that’s not a typo. Stay quitting is not referring to a constant cycle of starting something and never finishing it; stay-quitting is when you are physically somewhere but mentally you have checked out.

While you may not be familiar with the term, you will be familiar with the behaviors of someone who is a stay quitter in your business.

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.

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 that speak up about something they believe not to be right.

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 the 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.

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.

In conclusion, when you have a high turnover, or you identify someone who is a stay-quitter, you’ll need to do more than try to talk to them or offer them more money. They want to not only be heard, but they want to see change. You will need to find the root cause of the issue, and it’s not always obvious, even to the person asking for the change.

About the author: 

Cornerstone Paradigm Consulting, LLC is an industry-agnostic business operations consulting firm going beyond the symptoms to get to the root cause of your business issues.