Quiet Quitting: Who is Really to Blame?

By Jessica Speas posted 18 days ago

Quite Quitting image

A new trend has been sweeping businesses, and perhaps even your very own veterinary practice. It is called “quiet quitting.” While an employee isn’t actually resigning from a job, he or she is basically giving up on going above and beyond.  A decision is consciously made to do the bare minimum of what a job description requires.

According to the New York Times, “for some it (quiet quitting) was mentally checking out from work. For others, it became about not accepting additional work without additional pay.”

While some may view this new performance trend as contemptible, I tend to take a different perspective and challenge those in management to ask themselves this:  Can we really blame our employees for quiet quitting?  I believe the answer is “no.” 

I will take it one step further and say that I believe the blame for an employee’s decision to quietly quit falls squarely on our shoulders, not the employee’s.

Just think about it: not only have the past two years been filled with pandemic fatigue, but they have also been filled with stepped up demands and expectations that our teams give it their all to bring our veterinary practices back to “pre-pandemic normal” while still remaining vigilant to the safety practices and protocols we demanded of them when the pandemic first started. Let’s be honest, it’s exhausting!

Then, on top of this, we managers add to that something we historically love to do, we push staff members to go above and beyond, shower them with accolades, but shortchange them on compensation and benefits. Recognition at a staff meeting followed by a pizza is NOT an employee incentive program. Employees are finally realizing it, and they are tiring of it. Is it any wonder they are growing complacent? Employers need to change their tune.

So, how does a manager “do better” and mitigate quiet quitting in a veterinary practice?  I have contemplated this carefully. Here are some approaches I have begun to take within my practice:

  • Start with a genuine check-in with each and every employee. Listen in and ask questions: How are they doing on a 1-10 scale? What is going on in their life? What are their dreams and aspirations? The actual act of checking-in, of building a relationship with the individuals you employ, has the potential in itself to reduce the chance of quite quitting.
  • Take a good hard look at your job descriptions, salary, and benefits. Are you doing the best you can to retain the top talent you have? Can you be doing better? Look at your compensation through the lens of an employee that you don’t wish to lose. Make the necessary changes now.
  • How are recognitions awarded? If you ask a group of employees to form a voluntary task force and their serious efforts only receive a “great job!” at a staff meeting, that is not enough. Their reward need not be money but is certainly should be something meaningful – a great meal, or gift cards aligned with their personal hobbies or interests. A personal gesture can make a big difference.
  • Empower your team to identify the training they want or need. Chances are good that you have staff members who are not yet your shining stars, but a secret part of them really does want to be. An important aspect of getting to know your team members is seeing what extra training support they would like to be offered. Just ask.
  • Seek out ideas from other managers. VHMA’s MemberConnect is your gateway to insights from veterinary managers nationwide who are dealing with the phenomenon of quiet quitting in their own practices. Ask for and contemplate the meaningful responses you will inevitably receive when you pose your questions about quiet quitting.

The quiet quitting trend need not be inevitable in your veterinary practice, but to curtail it will take some serious work on your part. The time is now to re-engage your team by re-inventing the way you work with your team.  And isn’t that what being a great manager is all about?

Jessica Speas, CVPM, SPHR, PHR-ca, SHRM-SCP, CCFP
VHMA President


1 comment



14 days ago

Well said, and thank you for sharing your insight and efforts with us!