Quiet quitting — it’s a trend, a TikTok sensation and a viral catchphrase that has captured the attention of America’s workforce — and CX leaders are concerned.

But the term doesn’t actually refer to quitting – at least not in the literal sense.

Instead it describes the philosophy of taking a step back at the office and prioritizing life outside of work. Quiet quitters have made the decision that going above and beyond for their organization has not paid off and now they will not give more to their employer than what is absolutely necessary. In essence — it's doing the job you were hired to do — but nothing more. 

However, since going "above and beyond" is often an essential part of what makes the customer experience exceptional, it's a trend CX leaders should have on their radar. 

Half of America Is Quiet Quitting

According to Gallup, half of the US workforce are currently “quiet quitters” — people who do the minimum required because they are psychologically detached from their job.

After reviewing the responses of 15,091 full and part-time U.S. employees aged 18 and over in a recent poll, Gallup reported it’s a “symptom of poor management” and suggested that today’s leaders provide staff with a few essentials to help avoid the problem:

  • Clarity of expectations
  • Opportunities to learn and grow
  • Create an atmosphere in which the employee feels cared about
  • Form a connection between the individual employee and the organization's mission or purpose

“I believe that there is a risk of it continuing, but if we get the basics right, we have a chance to make it an even better workforce, workplace experience,” said Stacy Sherman, VP of marketing, agent and customer experience for Liveops, and founder of Doing CX Right. "Leadership — empathetic leadership and listening and giving people projects that they care about — is the way to combat the quiet quitting.”

Customer Experience Teams Are Vulnerable

Ken Kozielski, vice president of customer experience at Orlando Health, is a CX executive who has led teams across multiple industries and service organizations including Aramark and Wyndham Resorts. He describes quiet quitting as an apathy toward one’s role — and he believes CX teams are especially vulnerable. 

Some workers see it as the antidote to burnout from the 8 to 5 hustle and grind — but it could be the warning sign of a flawed company culture.

“It’s the loss of engagement that happens when the job experience and the sense of purpose that brought them there are no longer aligned,” Kozielski said. “It results in a loss of discretionary effort, customer empathy and ultimately attrition.”

Related Article: What Do Customer Experience Teams Actually Look Like?

Specific Risks for CX Professionals

Kozielski said these are people who chose their profession because they are motivated to help others and make a difference in our current world. And, it seems, most companies are "moving from crisis to crisis,” he added. "This means that companies are prioritizing pragmatic survival over principled improvement.”

The result, he explains, is that “CX is often left in the dust” and when CX teams reach out to their operational counterparts for partnership, the response they are frequently met with is, “we have too many competing priorities.”

“This is demotivating and leaves the CX professional feeling like their sense of purpose is unfulfilled,” Kozielski said. “What do they do in that situation? They either toss up their hands in frustration or find some other place to fulfill their sense of purpose.”

Learning Opportunities

Related Article: HR Leaders Share Their Employee Retention Strategies Amid the Great Resignation

Realigning Customer Objectives With Business Goals

And, he says, the front-line team — those members around the company who may not have CX in their role, but who have a big influence on the customer experience — are also at risk.

“I think the risk for them is the competing priorities themselves," Kozielski said. "Leaders often cascade accountability for financial or operational metrics and if they are under the pressure of living in survival mode, then they may see customers as an obstacle to their goals. This can cause them to give up on delivering great service to customers because the customer’s needs are secondary."

The solution? Realignment of customer objectives with business goals.

"The deeper the divide between the two," he said, "the worse quiet quitting will get.”

Related Article: How Your Company Can Avoid the Great Resignation

Onus Is on CX Leaders to Inspire Employees

Sherman said that while “quiet quitting” is a very popular term, it’s an awful concept — especially for customer experience teams.

While people are returning to work, many are working limited hours and they are not making the effort to go “above and beyond” — what Sherman said customer experience is all about.

“As leaders of organizations for both customer experience and customer service, we need to have meetings with our teams and one-on-ones and we need to take them seriously, never skip them and listen more than ever, empathetically, to what people are going through,” Sherman said. “We need to make sure that they're working on projects that they care about, that are related to their passion, so that they enjoy their work, and it doesn't feel like work. Because that's when quiet quitting will subside and hopefully go away forever.”

While she knows that not everybody is going to have the same work ethic, she feels it's very important that leaders get the basics right. Otherwise, the impact to organizations could be enormous, because if the workers who normally go above and beyond stop taking chances stop sharing their opinion and stop thinking outside the box — the results could be devastating for an organization.

“Customer experience will suffer and even customer service,” Sherman said. “Those agents on the phone who are reactive to those calls coming in — the customer is going to hear it, they're going to see it, they're going to feel it.”