Quiet Quitting, The Silent Epidemic, with Sonja Price

Reading Time: 21 Minutes

In this episode with Sonja Price, “Quiet Quitting” – a phenomenon that’s been on the rise in recent years. Many employees are silently disengaging from their work and quietly quitting their jobs without giving any indication to their employers. 

Takeaways We Learned from Sonja…

Be responsive.

It is essential to acknowledge and respond to team members’ communication, whether through Slack messages, email, or text, with authenticity and empathy.

Set forms of communication are essential.

Leaders can create specific times in a meeting, like weekly, monthly, or quarterly business reviews, to discuss all the ideas that team members have presented and show that they are valued.

Respond to communication.

Even if leaders don’t want to move forward with the team member’s ideas, they should show that they were heard and that they are a valuable member of the team.

Acknowledge communication.

Team members may withdraw if they don’t think anyone is listening to their ideas or contributions.

Lack of growth plans.

Lack of structured growth plans for employees is a major reason why people quit quietly.

Clear growth plans.

Companies need to have clear growth plans for employees and show them what is required to advance.

Caring managers.

Managers who genuinely care about their employees and want them to succeed are key to employee retention. As is how the company treats its people rather than just compensation or perks.

Prevent burnout.

Burnout has become a big issue in recent years, especially with work from home scenarios, and companies need to take steps to prevent it, such as promoting work-life balance and encouraging breaks.

About Sonja Price

Sonja “Dynamo” Price is a Top Career Strategist, Salary Advisor, and Leadership Coach. Her mission is to support professionals to have greater meaning, better work-life balance, and significantly higher pay.

She has worked directly with Tony Robbins, trained with Al Gore to become a Climate Reality Leader, and won an Honorable Award from the Women’s Economic Forum.

She has helped many clients land their dream job with prestigious organizations such as Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Meta, Starbucks, T-Mobile, and many other large and small organizations.

Read the Transcript

Allison: Welcome back to the Deliberate Leaders podcast. I am your host and Executive Business Coach Allison Dunn. Today our topic is quiet quitting the silent epidemic. Our guest is Sonja Price. She is a top Career Strategist, salary advisor and leadership coach, her mission is to support professionals to have greater meaning, better work life balance, and significantly higher pay. Sonja, thank you so much for joining us here today.

Sonja: Alli, thank you so much for having me on your podcast, I’ve been listening to several, we’re several of your episodes, and you deliver such amazing, great content. So it’s an honor to be here today.

Allison: Thank you very much. I just love to kick these off with a deliberate conversation, what would be your number one leadership tip for our listeners?


I think probably the number one, leadership quality would be being truly responsive.

And what I mean by that is that, you know, we all live in this incredibly fast paced world. And there are so many different forms of communication. And so at work, we’re always answering slack messages, we have email, we have text messages, there’s so many different things.

And when team members are really trying to make their mark and get noticed by leaders, I think oftentimes, it’s really hard when you’re giving updates through slack when you’re, you know, sharing your ideas and trying to talk about, hey, here’s the latest, greatest idea, this is what I think our team should do, here’s how we can really cause more results.

And I think sometimes people are sharing their best ideas, and then it just goes out into space. And there’s, you know, there’s no information, there’s no feedback.

And so being responsive, but doing it with authenticity, and empathy. And, you know, even if you don’t want to move on as a leader, just helping people know that they were heard, and that they are truly, you know, a valuable member of the team and that we appreciate their contributions.

Allison: Yeah, I would say I recognize the challenge that you’ve just outlined. And in the, in the fact that there are a ton of ideas shared in a limited amount of time to apply them to, as a leader, what is the best way to communicate that I’ve heard you, but not diminish? or dismiss the ideas that are presented? Have you any tips?

Sonja: Having set forms of communication, so whether there are, you know, if you’re doing weekly, or monthly or quarterly business reviews, and you have a portion of that meeting where you say, you know, here’s all the ideas that have been presented in the past X amount of time, I want you to know, that you’ve been heard wants you to know that, you know, we value your ideas, we value your contributions, here are the things that we’re moving forward with for right now. Because this is what makes the most sense for the business.

You know, so that’s maybe on like a larger scale of like having specific times in, you know, time in space, that it’s like, okay, hey, here, here are these things. But then, you know, also if like a Slack message, or email or whatnot, like, I know, so many leaders that are so busy, they don’t even check their email, or slack messages come through, and it just slips through the cracks. So if there’s better ways of being able to capture the information, or at least just respond and say, thanks, I got it. You know, and hopefully, it can be a little bit more involved than that. But even just knowing that you’ve been heard, like, as a team member, just knowing that you’ve been heard, you’re like, okay, cool, they got my message versus, you know, I think when you don’t, when you don’t hear that someone has received your communication, then oftentimes, you start to withdraw, and, you know, maybe back away, and you’re like, Well, why should I even present my ideas? Anyways? Nobody ever listens. And, you know, why should I? Why should I put in, you know, extra effort?

Allison: Yeah. Okay, thank you. I appreciate that. And hopefully, those who are using that as a line of communication, because things do get buried in the inbox, is to find the time and carve out the time to acknowledge it.

Sonja:  And sometimes, you know, if I may just add one more thing here, you know, depending upon how senior that you are, as a leader, you know, if you have an assistant or a Chief of Staff, maybe this can be a valuable thing that they can help participate with, right to say, Hey, I’ve been monitoring the inbox, you know, or you don’t even have some hash tags associated with different things. You can go and search for it. And then and then say, great, you know, we got your submission. We received your update for this particular project. You know, whatever it might be, but just, you don’t have to be the one who always does it. But perhaps you can have someone who can help you. Right. So that people still want to engage and, and share and be a valuable contributing member of the team.

Allison: Yeah, agreed. So our topic today is quiet quitting. And I, as a as a coach and a business owner, like I love the positioning that you have of don’t leave your job before you leave your job. So let’s talk about what exactly is quiet quitting, I think it’s for me, it’s a new term in the last year or so that’s hit my radar, and it’s a, it’s a real thing.

Sonja: It is a real thing. It’s definitely the term has been coined within the last year or so. But I think it’s been a phenomenon that we’ve been experiencing for decades, if not, since the beginning of time. The term was coined mostly by Gen Z. And it’s really about just doing the bare minimum work at your job. You know, and it’s really about just defying the hustle culture, you know, tired of just putting it all in there, and, you know, not getting rewarded or not getting recognized or not being seen. And I think that there’s also like a big trend around this, that, you know, people are talking about quiet quitting, because I think in our culture, we put so much of our identity into our work. And I think sometimes it’s like, you know, maybe don’t have so much of your identity and work, maybe there’s ways that you can, you know, tie, your self worth does not have to be tied to your job.

And I think that, especially the younger generations are kind of, you know, more in this mentality. And so then, you know, maybe as a result of it, if they’re not getting the growth opportunities, or the recognition at work for the work that they’re doing, or they’re just not engaged, and they’re not passionate about what they’re doing. It’s kind of just like, you know, I’m just going to, like, rest on my laurels, I’ll do the bare minimum to get by. So, you know, I may not get fired. But maybe I’m not going to really put my all my effort into it.

Allison: Yeah. So how do you? How would you suggest if someone has individuals inside of their organization that are doing the bare minimum, or at least appear to be, but also asking for more responsibility and more pay? How do you bring those two in alignment so that they are positively when like, from the leadership perspective, if they’re engaging with a team members using the business model of that, yeah, I think I think has to make business sense, you know, for it to be a win win.

Sonja: Yeah, yeah. Well, you know, I think it might be a bigger, more systemic problem, right? Because I think, you know, over time, people have become less and less and less engaged in work. So we really have to start to ask like, well, what helps people really feel truly engaged at work? What gives them that sense of meaningful work? And that sense of satisfaction, and what helps them feel fulfilled in the work that they do? And if we can answer those questions, then I think we can answer some of the larger questions as well. So you know, since the pandemic, most of us have been working virtually, we have less and less social interaction, yes, maybe we’re on, you know, zoom and teams calls all day long. But that like social connection has been greatly diminished. So you know, if there’s ways to help people feel more engaged, and that they feel like they’re actually like, cared about as a person, in addition to the work that they’re doing, I think that can be a really a big, contributing factor to helping people feel more engaged at work.

But then, you know, if people are, you know, if they’re asking for greater opportunities, but they’re not even really like doing that great of a job with what they already currently have, then I think it becomes more of a coaching conversation between, you know, manager and team member of, okay, well, let’s talk about the responsibilities you have on your plate right now. You know, how are you performing? With that? Let’s talk about your results with that. What are you feeling most inspired and passionate about? Are you engaged in this work?

You know, and it’s the overall development plan for team member in my mind, I think the responsibility falls on both people’s shoulders. And I think sometimes both parties think well, that’s the other person’s responsibility. You know, like as a team member, you’re thinking, Well, it’s my manager’s job to help create opportunities for me, you know, and the managers like, well, you need to knock it out of the park before I give you an other opportunity, or maybe they’re just so busy that they’re not really thinking about the career growth plan for all of their team members. So I think it really boils down to having, you know, those one on one engaged coaching conversations, if you can call it a coaching conversation, or, you know, maybe your weekly one on one, but treating it more as, you know, an opportunity to really engage and kind of understand what’s really meaningful and worthwhile. And how can we help people be more engaged on an ongoing basis? Right?

Allison: I sense that things have shifted a little bit, you know, now that it now that we’re into 2023, with just economically and whatnot, I feel like 2022, the mass exodus out of the business world and the employment was a was a big conversation, do you sense that it is still continues to be on the rise in the quiet quitting? Is it still highly prevalent? Or is it shifting?

Sonja: That’s a really good question. I think that kind of remains to be seen. And it could vary by industry as well. You know, I work with a lot of folks in tech, and there’s been a huge amount of layoffs recently. And I think that, you know, starts to create, you know, fear and scarcity among the ranks, you know, people get worried that, oh, you know, are there more layoffs coming, you know, if they didn’t, maybe they got laid off, or if they haven’t gotten laid off, maybe they’re scared that more layoffs might be coming. I know that companies have really started kind of ratchet things down now. And if they’re, if you’re working on key projects, sometimes you, you have to kind of like, still prove the value and the worth of your project or your team or your department.

And so, you know, I think that things probably are shifting, especially in the tech industry, which is what I tend to know the most about. And, you know, it’s kind of the same thing in the housing market, there’s a buyer’s market is a seller’s market. And so I think during the pandemic, employees realize, like, Oh, hey, I kind of I kind of have the power here, I’m working remotely. You know, I can do my meetings, but I’m going to go do my laundry, while I, you know, take lunch and go walk the dog or whatnot. And now, I think a lot of companies are starting to call their people back into the office. And I think that’ll be an evolving process for a period of time to see how that actually shakes out to say, Well, does it actually work? Are we going to be back in the office full time? Or is it going to be a hybrid model? Or our team members and employees still saying, like, No, I want 100% Virtual Job.

But I think because of the shift in the economy, you know, I think the power is kind of transitioning more back into the company’s hands. But I think that there’s still going to be a happy medium in there somewhere. Because I think that so many people have become accustomed to working remotely now and having more work life balance, although I know some people work even harder when they’re working virtual, but you know, having more of an opportunity to have more balance in terms of maybe they don’t have a commute, or they are able to take care of some personal things during the day. So I think that it’s going to be interesting to see how this continues to shake out. And I think it may end up being, you know, a case by case basis, per company and per work culture as well.

Allison: I think you’re spot on that there is a shift of that decisions are going to be made by major corporations as to how they want to move forward. Let’s just assume that there is a portion of at least most organizations that have people who were quietly quitting. How do we prevent that, while also often being injured driving implementation of whether someone continues to work remote, whether they are a hybrid model or whether we’re bringing them back? Like what guidance as there is a lot of companies, at least in my market that are facing that is as a decision and how you retain talent you want to have?

Sonja: Yeah. Well, as a career coach, you know, I work primarily with employees who are hoping to get promoted, they want to move into a higher level leadership role, or they’re looking for some sort of, you know, they want a better work culture they want they want something, something that they don’t have right now. And one of the biggest common complaints that I hear is lack of growth opportunities. And so If we want to solve this challenge around quiet quitting, we have to identify like, Well, what do people really want? And what are the missing gaps? And then how do we start to fill those gaps.

And so, you know, a lot of the folks that I work with, they just say, you know, I’ve been trying to get promoted in my current company for the last five years, and it hasn’t worked, right, or like, I’ve been stuck at this specific level, I’ve created my promo docs, I’ve talked to my manager about it, I even shifted teams internally, you know, and I was looking for the right opportunity. So I realigned with a different manager and a different team. And it’s still not happening, I’m still not getting the right opportunities to cause the results that are needed in order to showcase that I have the skill set and the capability to be promoted to that higher level.

And so you know, that, that may not be like a true example of quit quitting, where it’s like just doing the bare minimum to get by. But I oftentimes talk to those folks when they’re already fed up bitter and resentful, because they’re like, I’ve already been trying, and I’ve talked to everybody that I can, and I’ve tried to get mentors and sponsors, and I’ve tried to, you know, I’ve tried to do everything that I can do from my side, but the company is not supporting me.

I think if we had more legitimate or more structured growth plans for employees, and we actually showed people, you know, Oh, you want to get promoted, like, here’s exactly what’s required in order to make that happen. And as your manager, as a leader in your department, here’s what I’m going to do to help you accomplish that, because I think that there are plenty of people out there that they’re trying to make a name for themselves, they’re trying to cause those results.

But then it’s just so difficult to do, because they don’t have the right opportunities that you know, it, it just, they end up, they end up leaving, because they’re like, well, I’ll just go somewhere else, because I can go somewhere else. And I’ll probably make more money, if I go somewhere else, because I’ve already been working here for five years. So my compensation is behind market rate at this point in time. So I can go somewhere else, get a greater opportunity, make more money. And then I think that’s where we really lose the top talent because the top talent wants to grow, they want to thrive. But if they don’t have the right opportunities, you know, there’s other fish in the sea. So they will go somewhere else. Right.

Allison: So key takeaway, based on everything you just shared, is that if you have if you don’t have a growth plan that’s clear to your candidates that are looking for career trajectory, that that is an area of improvement, that could be shift the quiet quitting epidemic?

Sonja: That’s yeah. And actually having leaders who care about their employees growth, in our in our sample actively supporting the process to move forward to Right, yeah, yeah.

Allison: In thinking about the quite quitting epidemic, is it the stress of lack of momentum, or the stress of having to minimize the effort that they’re putting in? Like, where? Where do you think the stress comes from, or distress comes from?

Sonja: On the employees side? Yeah. Well, you know, there’s been a number of studies about employee retention. Maybe you’ve seen some of these over the years, but there was one that was done a number of years ago, and the findings were quite profound, you know, they found that like, what makes someone stay at an organization and you might think that it’s compensation, but actually, it’s much lower on the list.

From the study that I remember from the Gallup organization, it’s like the top two retention factors were number one, does my manager care about me as a person? And number two? Do I have a best friend at work?

Do I have somebody that we can, you know, shoot the be the breeze and have watercooler talk and, and you know, who’s my work bestie and so that speaks so much more to the people in the culture in the organization itself? You know, versus like, Okay, well, what are these other things that we can do to implement? You know, can we give people more money? Can we give free food away? Can we do a Christmas party every year or whatever? Right?

It’s like I think really just treating people like people and recognizing that they are whole people and that they have a whole you know, whole life outside of work.

And you know, what makes them tick what keeps them interested what, what makes them show up every day and oftentimes it’s just having a manager who genuinely cares about them and wants them to succeed.

Allison: In the work from home scenario and hybrid model. And then in office model, obviously, in a lot of cases, people are putting in a ton of extra work. And the social component being taken away in a lot of circumstances causes burnout, do you have any tips for our listeners on how to avoid burnout, and keep everyone engaged as possible?


Burnout has become such a big thing, especially in the last few years, when you know, we are all mostly stuck at home 24/7. You know, if your family is at home with you, then you have that to manage as well.

So, you know, burnout, really taking breaks, you know, finding the breaks whenever and wherever you can write. And it may actually be easier to take those breaks working from home where you can, you know, get out and take a walk during your lunch break, or it doesn’t have to be, you know, it doesn’t have to be something super involved. But I think like, actively getting up from your desk, the recommendation is once an hour, I find that very hard to do myself, but you know, just getting up taking a quick to get a quick lap around the house. You know, or, like there’s taking small breaks throughout the day, maybe a weekend getaway every once in a while or larger, larger vacation, I think that can be really helpful.

You know, and then small things like taking a bath when you want to take a bath at night or whatnot, or making sure that you have time and space dedicated to go to the gym and take care of yourself, you know. So overall, I mean, I think it’s really about self care, and ensuring that you have the boundaries in place to ensure that that can actually happen. And I you know, I personally have struggled with this. I know many leaders struggle with this, many employees struggle with this. And it’s like, we have so much to do, there’s so many things that need to be done. There’s deadlines, you know, there’s big high demands, but oftentimes, when we take the break, it can actually when we come back to it, we come back refreshed, and we can actually be much more efficient in the work that we do when we do dive in. And that’s really important to, you know, maintain that sense of motivation too.

Because when you get so burnt out, it’s really easy to just become very bitter and resentful. And I really believe wholeheartedly that it’s up to each of us to, you know, take care of ourselves so that our emotions don’t get to that place. And yeah, just self care, and keeping boundaries in place those The other thing that I wanted to say is like, boundaries, you know, sometimes you do have to say, No, or sometimes you have to say, you know, coworker or boss comes to you and says, Hey, I need this thing. Can you get it back to me by tomorrow morning? Sometimes you have to push back a little bit and say, Actually, I have a number of things on my plate right now. The earliest that I can get it to you would be Monday night. And you just have to push back. Sometimes you have to say no, or you say yes, and here’s what I can do. And, and you know that that’s up to each individual to maintain those boundaries, so that you have enough time and space to take care of yourself as well.

Allison: Yeah, such it’s such a great tip, and just a very common, you know, things that I feel like people need permission sometimes to be able to say no, it’s okay. No, no, is an answer. And we do instead of that. Alright, so keeping on the theme of the quiet quitting, so how do you know when it actually is the right time? To quit and find a new job?

Sonja: Yeah, I think you have to ask yourself a number of different questions. And it’s really a matter of what’s important to you as an individual. Because, you know, some people are motivated by compensation. Some people are motivated by work culture, you know, and there’s a whole wide variety of different things that you can be motivated about to make the shift growth opportunities, better benefits, whatever it might be. And so, when I work with my clients, we go through a whole decision making criteria to help folks look at, okay, what’s most important to you, and how do we rank prioritize that so that, you know, when you are looking for other opportunities? How are you going to how will you evaluate those other new opportunities to know is that opportunity, a good fit for you? And would it be even? Would it be any better than where you’re at right now? Or would it just be same thing, different company? So I think you have to ask yourself, like, what would make it worthwhile for you to leave? And what would make it worthwhile for you to stay?

And are there specific things that you could attempt to implement in your current organization to stay so if you want greater growth opportunities? Have you actually asked for it? You know? And are you talking to the right people who can give you those opportunities. And sometimes it’s your direct manager, sometimes it’s your managers, peers, sometimes it’s, you know, other people in other parts of the organization where you can raise your hand get involved, you know, or if you’re looking to grow your leadership career, where are the skills gaps, you know, like, if you if you’re a senior level manager, you want to become a director. Okay, well, what skills as a director hold? Or what responsibilities do they hold that you don’t currently have experience in? And how do you start to get involved at that level, so that you can learn what you need to learn. And then when the right opportunity presents itself, you can raise your hand and take on a small portion of that project, or, you know, continue to develop your financial acumen or make more strategic decisions or have more influence have more impact. But I think a lot of times, people just kind of sit back, and they wait for the opportunities to come to them.

When, you know, if you get out there and you start networking and you have mentors and sponsors, and you, you know, a phrase that I like to use a lot is manager you know, like, is your is your manager actually supportive of you? And if they’re not, like, how can you help coach them? How can you help coach them so that they can actually, you know, help you get where you want to go, because they’re super busy. Everybody’s got competing priorities. So if you can help your career growth, become one of their priorities, and help them know exactly what you’re looking for, and make it easy for them to help you with that, then, you know, I can oftentimes see that is one of the best ways to, you know, progress forward, and, and look to see like, do the opportunities actually exist in your current organization. And if you put the time and effort in and you and you get turned down over and over and over again, okay, well, then, you know, great, you gave it your best effort, you gave it your best shot. And maybe it’s not working, so maybe it’s time to go somewhere else. And that doesn’t need to take years and years for that to happen. And you know, you can test the waters, you can see what the appetite is to help support you in your overall career growth and evolution.

And if it’s not happening, well, you know, there are plenty of opportunities out there. So maybe you can get out there and start looking. And those, those two strategies can actually happen in parallel, as well. And I have helped a lot of clients do that. Because, you know, start your process internally with your current organization, but then also see what else is available out there. And I mean, one great strategy that I’ve helped a lot of clients with is like, if you can get an offer on the table with another organization, then sometimes that can be great leverage with your current organization, where all of a sudden, they’re going to take you much more seriously than they would have otherwise.

Allison: That is an incredibly effective tip. I’m curious like this sort of a, a question based around individual contributors versus a leadership growth opportunity. With the folks that you’re working with? Where is the biggest challenge that you’re finding people where they’re fighting? Is it the growth trajectory as a subject matter expert or an individual contributor? Or is it on the leadership path, where there are only so many directors and SPPs and C suite people? roles, and you need someone to leave or die? Before you get?

Sonja: What you’re asking, What are the biggest challenges for each?

Allison: Do you find out? Or do you find that it’s an equal challenge amongst both trajectories like pathways? Because I think they’re very different tracks? Or is it more so on the leadership side that you’re fine? You’re personally seeing clients struggle the most with?

Sonja: Yeah, well, I see, I see both clients struggle, but in different ways. So individual contributors, you know, if they’re looking to, I think it’s much easier to become an expert, you know, in a specific niche area, than maybe to move into management. Because, you know, getting your first management role. Like, you have to be able to demonstrate your leadership capabilities in some way, shape, or form, or you have to be in the right place at the right time where the team is evolving, the team is growing, and they need a manager for that thing to happen. And in fact, I mean, I would probably say that for both scenarios, if you’re an individual contributor, or looking to move into management or you’re already in management at whatever level and you’re looking to move to a higher level of leadership, it’s always like sometimes So it’s really being in the right place at the right time.

And, you know, so if a team is reordering, or their significant growth, and they’re hiring, you know, a large number of people, and they need more leadership, they need more managers, you know, that can be, that can be a great time to step into that type of role. And the thing is, is that you need to have already been demonstrating leadership capabilities to even be considered at that point in time. And then, you know, I think you brought up a good point, like, you know, the more senior level leadership position that there is, there’s generally less opportunities that that space. And so you know, in that case, I think you do really have to be looking at, Okay, is there really an opportunity for me here? Is there a way that I can create an opportunity if it doesn’t already exist? You know, and if it’s not the right fit here, then where else can I go to gain that experience.

And sometimes what I see a lot with my clients is that maybe they’re working in a big company, and they haven’t been able to move up the ladder, but then they go work for a smaller company, take on a larger leadership level at a smaller company. And then, you know, maybe they love that in the small to medium sized business space. And then if they still want to come back to the large organizations, then they can bounce back later, but generally at a much higher level.

Allison: Okay. Great tips. And good, good insights. Thank you so much. That concludes our interview today. Sonya, thank you so much for joining us and sharing your wisdom around this.

Sonja: Thank you, Alli, it’s been so great to be on the show. And yeah, thank you so much.

Allison: My pleasure. I did not ask you what is the best way for people to find you?

Sonja:  Oh, thank you. That’s great. Yeah, so my business is Dynamo careers. If you go to Dynamo careers.com, I have a wealth of resources available, actually have a free a free career assessment that I highly advise people to, to really take advantage of. And what the assessment does, is it really showcase like, what are all of the different things that you can and should be looking at for your career to understand how fulfilled Are you in your career? And what are some of the other areas that you might want to be addressing to move forward. So you can find that at Dynamo careers.com forward slash assessment, and you can also find me on LinkedIn, my name is Sonya price. So in ja PR ice would love it if you send me a message. Thanks so much.

Allison: Fantastic. I will make sure that I have that Career Link inside of the show notes as well. So for listeners who are looking for that it is right below wherever you found this, okay. So Sonya, thank you so much for your time today.

Sonja: Thank you.

I'm Allison Dunn,

Your Business Executive Coach

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