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Are Leaders’ Communication Skills Causing Quiet Quitting?

Friday, November 11, 2022

A Gallup study reported that worker engagement declined for the first time in more than a decade in 2021. When asked whether they feel engaged at work, only 34 percent of workers said yes—down from 36 percent in 2020.

It’s tempting to criticize quiet quitters or dismiss them, but quiet quitting is a result of an organization’s culture. And, of course, culture can be strengthened by leaders with excellent communication skills.

Your Leaders Can Turn the Tide

However quiet quitting looks at your organization, one thing is clear—you and other leaders are not powerless against its stronghold. There are communication techniques that can help your leaders connect with their teams and build a strong and resilient culture.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to combatting quiet quitting. It’s all about engagement. And that’s personal.

Every conversation you and other leaders have with an employee affects the employee’s level of engagement. This means the quality of your leaders’ communication is a critical factor in how well your organization is re-engaging employees who may be quiet quitting.

Whether your team members are fatigued or simply need more inspiration, your leaders can connect with them to help reshape and strengthen your organization’s culture and performance. Here are five communication approaches your managers and leaders can develop to improve engagement:

1. Find ways to get teams talking. Then listen carefully.

The best way to discover engagement opportunities is to encourage high-quality conversations with team members to actively address what’s on their minds. To succeed, you must understand engagement, employee by employee. This is managing quiet quitting on an extremely personal level.


Today’s workforce needs to feel that their professional and personal lives are being taken seriously and that they are working toward a goal that’s important to them. By cultivating rapport on a personal level, you can improve your understanding of what keeps the individual members of your team motivated and inspired.

2. Help align employees with your company’s vision and mission.

Focused listening and compassionate responses aren’t the only tools in your toolbox. Lean on your company’s vision and mission. It’s up to leaders to help employees to connect on a personal level with the organization’s larger, inspiring purpose.

To get aligned, employees must see how their daily work supports the company’s success. It’s not about where employees fit on an organizational chart. It’s about the significance of their contributions. If you and your leaders align employees with the company’s vision and mission, engagement will improve.

3. Communicate with humanity to build trust.

Showing your true self with humility and taking a personal interest in people demonstrates compassion and empathy. It’s more inclusive, and it helps build trust. Leaders who practice humility are more likely to consider the feelings, beliefs, and opinions of others.


An excellent way to build trust is to be honest and admit what you don’t know—something we need to say more often in this environment of uncertainty. In a workplace, when a leader acknowledges that they don’t know something, it allows team members to get engaged and fill in the blanks with their ideas.

4. Level the playing field for desk-less and remote workers.

A full 82 percent of business leaders report that they are concerned about effective communication with remote working models in the future. That’s entirely understandable.

It’s difficult enough to have optimal communication channels when everyone works in the office at assigned desks or in offices. Add hot-desking and remote work to the mix, and you have a recipe for rampant miscommunication. Ideally, the same quality of communication is experienced by all employees, regardless of where and how they work.

Today’s professionals need to be multimodal when it comes to communication. This means showing up effectively in person and virtually and collaborating and sharing ideas with hybrid audiences or teams. Learning the techniques for engaging teams through virtual and hybrid communication can help.

5. Remember that storytelling still works.

Stories have the power to evoke and change emotions. And, because emotion is at the core of engagement, stories have the power to increase engagement. This makes storytelling a powerful tool in the fight against quiet quitting.

A compelling workplace story told by a team leader can inspire team members and connect them to the core values of the organization. Storytelling creates moments of connection and can build common ground. When leaders learn how to powerfully share stories that bring people together, they establish a sense of unity.

About the Author

As vice president of marketing, Heather Muir directs Mandel’s marketing, branding, and communications strategies in collaboration with the Executive Team. In addition, Heather leads Mandel’s public- and industry-relations activities. Prior to joining Mandel in 2010, Heather held several marketing and communications roles within the learning and training industry. Heather holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Davis, and has completed graduate courses in business and entrepreneurship at the University of Washington.

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