Skip to Main Content
Filter By +
Topic +

Loud Quitting: What It Is and How to Address It

Picture this: You feel stuck at a job you can’t stand. Every assignment arrives with new headaches. The duties you once enjoyed now feel agonizing; you no longer trust the leaders you once looked up to. You even dread getting up for work.

But you’re not complacent. You’re angry. And you’re done pretending you’re not.

That’s the essence of a new trend known as “loud quitting.” Unlike its close cousin, “quiet quitting,” loud quitting isn’t about passively sticking to the minimum requirements of a role. It’s about making the fury and frustration employees experience at work heard. By any means possible.

According to Gallup, nearly 1 in 5 employees around the world are loud quitting. Between loud quitters and less vocal — yet still disengaged — employees, the global economy loses $8.8 trillion a year in productivity.

At 9% of the global GDP, that cost is “enough to make the difference between the success and failure for humanity,” wrote Gallup CEO Jon Clifton.

High employee engagement isn’t just a good thing. It’s unquestionably vital to the long-term health of an organization. Even isolated instances of loud quitting can disrupt — if not destroy — the carefully cultivated trust employees have in their companies.

The stakes were already high; loud quitting raises them to a critical level. But with the right approach and understanding, employers can turn down the volume on loud quitting.

What is loud quitting?

Think of loud quitting as a disengaged employee armed with a megaphone. They’re not literally shouting about their grievances (although they might think about it).

Rather, loud quitting is when “employees take actions that directly harm the organization, undercutting its goals and opposing its leaders,” according to Gallup. It’s a step beyond quiet quitting, but like that trend, it doesn’t always refer to someone who’s actually quitting.

At least, not immediately.

Grumpy staying,” a similar trend covered by Business Insider, might speak more clearly to the phenomenon. A grumpy stayer would say something like, “I’m going to keep working here because I need this job, but you’re going to know I don’t like it!”

The difference is loud quitters could have their foot out the door, but they want to give the foyer a few final scuffs before exiting for good.

A loud quitter may do even less than the minimum requirements of their job. They could:

  • cause an unpleasant, public scene
  • post inflammatory comments online
  • refuse to do tasks they find needless or insulting
  • set a negative tone for new hires
  • trigger other employees to loud quit

When a loud quitter exhausts all other options, they finally might resign — without notice, of course.

The bottom line? Loud quitting should never be ignored, because it hurts an organization’s culture and reputation. But firing every disgruntled employee isn’t the answer. Ultimately, loud quitting is the symptom of rampant disengagement that’s bigger than a single employee.

And employers should understand their employees have a right to discuss their pay, schedule, job duties and other working conditions under the National Labor Relations Act. Businesses that interfere with their employees’ rights risk penalties, such as:

  • fines up to $100,000 for terminating or subjecting a worker to “other serious economic harm”
  • fines up to $50,000 for related violations
  • court-ordered compensation for the employee who was harmed
  • a violation notice posted at the employer’s premises
  • a cease and desist order
  • and more

Silencing employees — rather than supporting them — creates a massive compliance issue.

Loud quitting vs. quiet quitting

The two concepts reflect the frustration and disconnect employees have with their organization. The primary difference is how people express disengagement.

Quiet quitters take a less volatile, passive-aggressive approach. Their discontent doesn’t come out as anger, but apathy. Quiet quitters also don’t actively seek to work against their employer. Ultimately, quiet quitters don’t fail at their jobs or cause obvious disruptions.

Loud quitters are a different story. They’re not beyond engagement — no employee is. But they pose a more imminent risk to an organization’s workforce and reputation. If quiet quitting marks the soft rumblings of disengagement, loud quitting equates to a volcanic eruption.

Causes of loud quitting

Loud quitting encapsulates issues that potentially speak to larger, organizational challenges. Here are four common culprits.

1. Frustration

Occasional frustration is natural, but loud quitters feel it constantly. It’s more than just random annoyances. Loud quitting happens when employees have no productive outlet to vent that frustration.

For example, loud quitters see their managers as uncaring, preoccupied or too distant to sincerely care about employee problems. Pair this with little to no development opportunities, and it’s hard to see why a loud quitter would have any reason to engage with their work.

2. Stress

While frustration doesn’t necessarily involve stress, it’s hard to separate the two. But stress can be more pervasive. For instance, a frustrated employee might still fume about work on their commute home, but stress keeps them up at night and dreading the next shift.

Bare minimum Monday — or the practice of diffusing the start-of-workweek stigma by focusing on self-care — helps manage routine stress during specific, relatively short periods.

But a loud quitter’s work stress can be perpetual. Gallup even reports that 56% of loud quitters felt a lot of stress the previous day. They would need a bare minimum Monday, try-less Tuesday and a similar routine for the remaining weekdays.

3. Incapability

It might be easy to label loud quitters overwhelmed by the responsibilities of their roles as simply not “up to snuff.” That’s occasionally true; grossly underqualified people bumbling their way into important positions stands as a hallmark of workplace comedy. (Think Steve Carell’s character, Michael Scott, in NBC’s The Office.)

But if many employees loud quit over their job’s expectations, it speaks to a severe lack of:

What’s worse than an employee who flounders in a key role because they weren’t given the right prep, tools or training? A loud quitter who spreads their discontent online or around the workplace, especially after they’ve accepted the job isn’t right for them. Many could fall into this camp given 61% of them actively seek a new job, according to Gallup.

4. Poor management

Speaking of the underqualified, Gallup found 70% of team engagement hinges on a manager’s effectiveness. In other words, great supervisors inspire and motivate their people, but lackluster leaders routinely break trust and can sour even the most dedicated employees.

In fact, 55% of employees who left a job said their manager or company could’ve helped them stay, according to a Pollfish survey commissioned by Paycom. Loud quitters won’t beat around the bush to identify their leaders’ weaknesses. Those can include:

  • negligence
  • micromanagement
  • no employee advocacy
  • closed-mindedness

A strong manager makes employees reluctant to leave; a terrible one pushes them away and harms a company’s reputation.

How to address loud quitting

The right approach extinguishes nearly every factor that ignites loud quitting. Try these four straightforward tactics to help manage the trend.

1. Show appreciation

Many businesses need employees to succeed. Sometimes reminding them of this is enough to engage them. Beyond that, make sure they understand the value of their work.

An easy-to-use tool for performance management helps weave acknowledgment into company culture. When it’s available through a single HR software, it’s easy for employees to set and track goals.

Plus, companywide reporting makes it easy to identify when performance — and engagement — starts to wane. That way, managers have a chance to address problems before they spur loud quitting.

2. Give and gather feedback

Remember, certain employees turn to loud quitting because they don’t feel heard and acknowledged. Workers should expect to receive regular feedback — both positive and constructive.

At the same time, managers proactively can seek to understand what motivates their employees on a deeper level, such as through mentoring or frequent conversations.

Employers also should make it a point to routinely ask their people about what annoys and compels them about the company. Powerful survey software proves indispensable for gathering candid and anonymous feedback, but that tech should also be supported by the right questions, such as:

  • If you could change one thing here to make work easier, what would it be?
  • What are the biggest challenges you regularly face?
  • What inspired you to take this job, and did your expectations hold up? Why or why not?
  • What kind of benefits or resources would make you happier in the office?
  • Is there any way we’ve failed to address your needs? How so?

The answer to these questions might not be easy to stomach, but outright ignoring feedback can be a surefire way to alienate talent and push them to loud quit.

3. Invest in well-being

If employees have no evidence their business cares about them, why would they care about the organization? People need to know their wellness is a priority before they seriously invest in their company. Employers should consider investing in mental health resources and wide-reaching, unconventional benefits to prove their commitment to their workforce’s well-being.

Don’t forget the best benefits in the world don’t mean anything if employees can’t easily access or enroll in them. Adopt intuitive benefits administration software to help employees select and manage their coverage.

4. Prioritize development

Who could blame a loud quitter for voicing frustration if their company never gave them a chance to grow and thrive? Today’s employees want more than jobs; they want impactful careers. Focusing on development reminds workers that the organization’s success hinges on their success.

Don’t just tell them they need to learn. Give them versatile learning management software that helps accomplish it in a way that’s convenient to them. Whether for annual compliance purposes, upcoming leadership roles or a shift in business direction, every employee benefits from training that’s:

  • engaging
  • insightful
  • accessible
  • easy to take without losing focus

People inevitably resign. But no one loud quits because their businesses care about their well-being and development too much.

Explore Paycom’s single software to learn how it engages and inspires your workforce.


DISCLAIMER: The information provided herein does not constitute the provision of legal advice, tax advice, accounting services or professional consulting of any kind. The information provided herein should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal, tax, accounting or other professional advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a professional adviser who has been provided with all pertinent facts relevant to your particular situation and for your particular state(s) of operation.