How HR can combat ‘quiet quitting’ and burnout

How HR can combat ‘quiet quitting’ and burnout

The last few years have seen seismic changes in the world of work. The Covid-19 pandemic necessitated a shift to remote and hybrid working, a trend which seems to be staying for the long haul.

But this has also led to the blurring of boundaries between work and home lives, with employees working longer hours, seeing other people less and taking fewer sick days. And this is on top of lingering anxieties in the aftermath of the global health crisis.

So, it’s no wonder that burnout is at an all-time high, across multiple sectors. Research from Glassdoor revealed that negative discussion about burnout in the workplace has shot up by 48%, and reports of burnout have doubled over the last year alone.

A separate survey found that 18% of people felt they couldn’t switch off when working from home – as they always felt contactable.

What is ‘quiet quitting’?

Immediately after the worst of the pandemic lockdowns, the ‘Great Resignation’ trend began – where employees started leaving their jobs in unprecedented numbers. The term was first coined in the US, but other research in May 2022 found that around 20% of UK workers were planning to leave their current job in the coming year.

There’s now a new workforce trend for employers to worry about – ‘quiet quitting’. This term is used to describe a situation where a burned out, unfulfilled and possibly underappreciated employee decides to do the bare minimum their role requires.

It’s a setting of boundaries on how much they will do in work time. It’s also a rejection of the ‘hustle culture’ of the last few years, where work very much overtook everything else in the work-life balance.

Why and how HR should act to combat burnout

These workplace trends and burnout figures should set serious alarm bells ringing for HR managers. There’s a talent shortage across multiple industries right now, so retaining your best people should be a top priority.

But what can HR managers do to tackle burnout, quiet quitting and resignations? Here are some key areas to start working on right now:

  • Encourage employees to take annual leave. The Glassdoor research shows that over 70% of UK workers see time off as an effective way to minimise burnout. But despite this, only 60% are using their full holiday entitlement every year.


  • Lead by example. When it comes to working hours and patterns, your top-level teams and executives should be setting the precedent. If they head out the door at 5pm on the dot, or have a rule about not working remotely outside set hours, the rest of the team will find it easier to set similar boundaries.


  • Provide support. As an HR manager, you should be aiming to manage employee wellbeing at all levels. Taking steps to build a supportive working culture starts with empathy, trust and transparency, where people feel they can talk about an overloaded work schedule or a feeling of fatigue. Provide forums where employees are encouraged to share their challenges, and offer access to mental health support if needed.

Need help with talent sourcing or retention? Work with our specialists here at Castlefield Recruitment – get in touch for a chat about your needs.