Ask Madison: Gen-Z Leads the Way to Quiet Quitting

November 23, 2022
| ByMadison

Gen Z is using what they know best - technology - and spreading the phenomena of Quiet Quitting all across the world through platforms such as TikTok and Twitter. Example posts range from glamorizing to achieve the bare minimum at work and setting overtime boundaries. And the trend is picking up steam as millions of Gen-Z professionals publicly reject the concept of engaging in their work life. As the generation of individuals entering the workforce today try to alleviate burn-out, they prioritize their value as people rather than their identity as an employee and employers must take notice.

How prevalent is Quiet Quitting amidst the GenZ work population?

According to survey data from Gallup, Gen-Z and younger millennials make up the lowest engagement during the second quarter of 2022. This finding defines quiet quitters as people who are not engaged at work through “psychologically detaching” from their job. This recent decrease in U.S. Employee Engagement (31%) makes up at least half of the U.S. workforce. When Gallup performed this assessment, they measured “engagement” by whether employees believed their work had a sense of purpose. However, younger employees reported that this was not the case.

While everyone that joins the work world quickly realizes that having a job tends to take over their life, the main reason for this overall decline is due to a workforce generation who joined their fields during a pandemic. Rochelle Kelly, a Gen-Z member who works in public relations, states

“How did we reach a point in our culture where it’s a problem to have rigid boundaries between work and personal time?”

Kelly and most of her generation reflect a radical shift when it comes to work-life expectations compared to past generations. They put themselves before their careers. In a WSJ article, 24-year-old transportation analyst Paige West says her job wasn’t allowing her to sleep and making her hair fall out. So, while she looked for another job, she did not work long hours and stopped interacting with her colleagues.

West’s story is a prime example of quiet quitting, but that is only one of many variations to this concept. Some Gen-Z’s stay in their jobs but eliminate the idea of letting the work overwhelm or control them. An engineer living in New York, Zaid Khan, 24, posted this alternate perspective on Tik Tok and received over 3.5 million views but most importantly: 490.8k likes. These metrics highlight Gen-Z’s power as they spur this transformative attitude in the work world.

What is the reason behind this Quiet Quitting phenomenon?

Many individuals, especially those that belong to the prior generations such as Millennials and Generation X, are growing concerned by this workplace behavior change brought on by Generation Z. These older working generations hold the positions of CEO, supervisors and project managers, and some view quiet quitting as a form of laziness, lack of ambition and potentially grounds for layoffs. On the contrary, Harvard Business Review has found that this phenomenon is simply a reaction to bad bosses. Zenger Folkman analysts reviewed data from 360 leadership assessments since 2020 and used 13,000 employee ratings of 2,801 managers to assess the relationship between quietly quitting and effective leaders. Consequently, the data conveyed that the least effective managers have “three to four times as many people who quite quit.”

Hence, Generation Z might be taking the lead, but it is purely reactionary to an environment where they feel they are undervalued, unappreciated, or lacking purpose. In Forbes, Future Cain, social-emotional leadership and workplace wellness expert, says that it is “audible abandonment” [from companies] that causes “quiet quitting.” This explanation reveals that employees feel rejected because their employers refuse to grant them their needs and in turn decide to tune out their work in response to this lack of fulfillment. This is a basic side of human nature, evidencing the importance of implementing psychological tactics in the workplace.

The remedy to the symptom
Quiet Quitting itself is not a problem but rather a symptom of a combination of an unhealthy workplace and an intense couple of years marked by social injustices, natural disasters, economic volatility and pandemics. To find the remedy to this, leaders should be asking themselves how to increase engagement from their employees. The answer to this usually lies in aspects such as safety, trust and consistency.

  • Safety
    Creating an environment where workers feel safe allows for open and honest dialogue among colleagues and employers. It is essential to have good relationships within your place of work because it sparks connections and positive attitudes toward your jobs. Therefore, an individual is more likely to want to excel and give back to a company that they feel protects them.

  • Trust
    When people trust their leaders, they associate feelings of care, belonging and well-being with the person that oversees them. As a boss, you have an amplitude of power that should be used to establish this trust. This enables employees, especially those entering their fields, to feel confident in putting in the effort to achieve something more significant within the company.

  • Consistency
    The leaders of this world should be consistent with their staff or team by delivering on their promises and ensuring they remit regular appreciation for their work. If an employer consistently acknowledges their workforce’s concerns, their direct reports will mirror the same behavior. They will want to guarantee that their service frequently caters to those above them.


At Madison Recognition our work is rooted in the belief that unleashing the productive potential of employees with reward and recognition programs and empowering individuals will help us stay ahead of workforce trends. To understand more about the workforce trend of Quiet Quitting, and more importantly ways that employees and employers can break through this barrier together, download our white paper here.

Subscribe to Our Blog

Recent Posts