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ATD Blog

The Critical Role of Talent Development in Quiet Quitting

Monday, September 19, 2022

Quiet quitting is the buzzword of the day. The term is used to describe an employee who only does the bare minimum at work rather than going above and beyond. Search the term and you’ll see a dozen articles from major news outlets about the trend’s impact on businesses.

Opinions differ on the cause and effects of quiet quitting—and if it’s even real. But one thing most experts agree on is that employees’ relationships with work are changing. Pre-pandemic, rise and grind culture ruled the day; it was a status symbol to put work first and always be on the job. The pandemic shifted priorities, though, and more employees are setting firm boundaries regarding work by prioritizing self-care, carefully aligning personal values with their organization, and leaving work tasks at work.

Whether quiet quitting is real or overblown, employee engagement is declining, and levels of employee burnout are increasing. According to Gallup, the number of US employees who are actively disengaged increased to 18 percent in 2022. What’s more, many employees say they feel overworked, undervalued, and stunted by limited career growth opportunities.

A reimagined workplace experience with flexible work agreements, intentional training and coaching, and better pay communicates to employees that their organizations care. Prioritizing the employee experience can help employees feel connected to the organization’s larger purpose and strengthen engagement.


Talent development should be a key driver in addressing engagement and combating quiet quitting. While specific strategies depend on organizational goals and the individual employee, organizations can start by focusing on the following tactics:

  • Train your leaders. The majority of managers and leaders do not receive training when transitioning to their roles. The current hybrid work environment has only compounded the challenges that new managers face. Make sure your managers are prepared because they have the biggest impact on employee engagement.
  • Prioritize professional development. Employees want to work for an organization that will develop their skills and provide career growth opportunities. Development is a key ingredient for engagement. If you invest in your employees’ future, it communicates that your organization values them and believes in their potential. It can also help attract new talent. According to The Conference Board Employment Trends Index, more than half (58 percent) of employees say they are likely to leave their company without professional development opportunities.
  • Create a culture that cares. Employees want to feel heard and valued. Develop career growth programs to support individual goals and aspirations and offer access to mental health and wellness programs. Schedule opportunities to check in on employees and reschedule meetings immediately when a conflict arises.

In response to quiet quitting, the term quiet firing has been coined. It describes an organization that fails to reward employees for their contributions. Eventually these employees are driven to move on and find another job.

Whether quiet quitting or quiet firing exist, people are rethinking work and its meaning in their lives. The role of talent development is crucial to boosting engagement and helping employees redefine their relationships with their jobs and their organizations.

About the Author

Jes Thompson is a content manager for ATD's Learning & Development topic areas. As a content manager, Jes creates and curates content on instructional design, training delivery, and measurement and evaluation. Before joining ATD, Jes worked in higher education facilitating training in leadership development skills, conflict resolution, and DEI. Jes holds a degree in Communications with an emphasis in digital media production from the University of Florida.