The latest term in the HR world is “quiet quitters” – employees who continue to show up at their job, but put in a very minimal amount of effort. According to a shocking recent Gallup poll, at least half the U.S. workforce may fall into this category.

There once was a time when a low-performing staff member would have been told to find work elsewhere, but today most retail stores are suffering from such a lack of potential new hires that losing any employee is a crisis. Wouldn’t it be better to avoid having any of your staff falling into this category?

I should start by saying that not all “quiet quitting” is a bad thing. In countries like Denmark, where there is a high value is placed on the work-life balance, few people would agree to work beyond their scheduled time. They would also not appreciate having their shifts changed from one week to the next. So some of the assertive behavior being exhibited by “quiet quitters” (let’s call them QQ) is a reflection of unrealistic expectations on the part of their employers. We need to recognize the need to have set schedules so that our staff members can plan child care and outside activities – and have a dependable income.

One of the common statements of the QQ is that they are simply “acting their wage.” This is a reflection on the fact that retail jobs are notoriously low paying.  But anyone accepting a job in our field must know what the hourly income will be. Creating a job at that pay level that includes variety and meaning can be a challenge – but it’s not impossible. Moving people around to different assignments in the store; trying not to have them work alone for long periods of time; and offering them opportunities to do displays and restocking are all ways to make a retail job more engaging. It’s important that everyone feels that they have a voice in their workplace, so try to include your staff in store decision-making

The QQ are said to be protesting by doing their job just as it is described, which means that it is crucial that the training of a new employee clearly spell out expectations for customer engagement and other activities.  While quiet quitting may work as a means of setting boundaries, it must really increase workplace boredom. Keeping your staff enthused and energetic takes effort, including regular recognition and rewards, but both your employees and your customers will benefit. 

Happy retailing, 

Carol “Orange” Schroeder