Key Takeaways

  • Building a more inclusive workplace where employees are allowed to bring their whole selves into the experience is key to creating a strong corporate culture and ensuring highly engaged workers.
  • Conversations around mental health and wellness are important for equipping workers with the tools to manage everything that happens in life, leading to a more engaged workforce.
  • It's important for both employers and employees to focus on career development and growth to avoid quiet quitting and to ensure that individuals are able to connect their passion, purpose, and skillset with the organization's value systems.
  • Candidates should research an organization's culture and programs to find a job that aligns with their passion, purpose, and skillset to feel engaged and connected.

Executive Summary

Hi everyone! Thanks for joining us on another episode of the Leader Show with Lou Carter. Joining us today is Dr. Candace Steele Flippin, who shares her insights on the prevalence of “quiet quitting”, a phenomenon occuring in many organizations today.

So, without any further delay, let’s get to the meat of the matter.    

Employees Who Feel A Connection To Their Work Are Likely To Perform Well

Lou begins by asking Dr. Candace the meaning of quiet quitting as she understands it. She explains that quiet quitting occurs when employees in an organization do only what is expected of them and don’t go beyond to expend any “discretionary effort” because of a lack of connection with the company. 

Noting that such employees often fail to grow and move further up in a company, Dr. Candace strongly believes that employees who are highly engaged and feel connected to their work and purpose are more likely to perform well and go above and beyond what is expected. According to her, quiet quitting can lead to broader disengagement and ultimately increase employee turnover, which is an expensive value proposition for companies.

The Three Types Of Employees

During the interview, Lou describes three types of employees:
The first group are those who feel they have to continue in their job for financial reasons, while the second group feels they have to maintain their norm or something bad may happen. The third group, which Dr. Candace highlights, is effective employees who love their work and want to do more.

In her book Get Your Career In Shape, Dr. Steele Flippin offers three questions for employees to consider: Do you have the career you need, the career you want, and the career you deserve? Employees who feel they don’t have what they need or are not doing what they want may engage in quiet quitting. Similarly, employees who feel they haven’t received what they deserve may become disengaged and stop putting in discretionary effort. To prevent quiet quitting, Dr. Steele Flippin suggests helping employees connect their values to those of the organization and ensuring fairness in rewards and recognition.

Setting Expectations With Management

Lou Carter asks Dr. Candace Steele Flippin about whether it’s okay for employees to step back and relax if they are quietly quitting. In her response, she notes that while productivity increased during the pandemic, many workers experienced burnout in the year that followed from working long hours and not taking vacations. She suggests that employees have conversations with their supervizors to align expectations and discuss what the new normal looks like. Its evident that expectations have shifted, and it’s essential to renormalize new cultural norms through honest conversations between employees and their managers.

Lou highlights that it can be challenging for employees to have alignment conversations with their bosses without fear of retribution, and this may be a factor in quiet quitting. Dr. Steele Flippin agrees and explains that if an employee is consciously deciding not to meet performance expectations, it’s important to have a conversation with their employer to prevent conflict. She emphasizes the need for employers to create an environment where employees can have courageous conversations and for employees to be brave and bold in expressing their needs and wants. Both agree that having conversations to back up behavior is crucial for productive and satisfying work environments.

A Generational Shift In Values

The conversation then turns to how different generations approach communication. Dr Candice conducted a study of 1500 individuals to understand which of the 12 different ways of interpersonal communication resonated with each generation. Her findings showed that baby boomers value active listening, Gen X gravitates towards collaboration, while millennials and Gen Z resonate towards empathy. The shift towards empathy has already started to take place, with conversations around work-life balance and certain types of benefits that support this. Companies with programs that focus on empathy and dialogue are becoming more popular, with a concerted effort from the top leadership to engage in open talks and provide opportunities for everyone to take part in business strategy or developing new products. 

Organizations today are becoming more open to allowing their employees to bring their whole selves to work, which is reflected in programs and practices that recognize various identities and include everyone in the process. Making more room at the table doesn’t mean pushing anyone away, but building a bigger table so everyone can come together and enjoy what’s on that table. Lou interjects that there are risks to not being inclusive, including legal and compliance issues, not attending to customer needs, and not showing up well in the media. 

Implementing Empathetic Corporate Cultures

The conversation also touches on the importance of building a strong corporate culture to ensure highly engaged workers and prevent the phenomenon of quiet quitting. Dr. Candace’s book, “Get Your Career in Shape” is a great resource for leaders and employees alike. In her book she suggests that employees who feel supported, connected to their purpose, and able to bring their whole selves to work are less likely to quietly quit. It’s important to ask themselves if they have the career role they need, want, and deserve and focus on getting their career in shape.

For employers, it’s important to listen to employees and have programs in place to strengthen their career development. It’s also important to have a dialogue about expectations and provide paths for growth. For employees, For candidates, it’s important to research the organization’s culture and programs that align with their passion, purpose, and skillset to feel engaged and connected.

Lou Carter and Dr. Candace Steele Flippin go into great detail on this episode of The Leader Show.

Thank you for listening,


Lou Carter : We're here today with Dr. Candace Steele Flippin. It's great to have you here with us today on The Leaders Show, Dr. Candace.

Dr. Candace Steele Flippin : Thank you, Louis. It's so great to be here today.

LC : I'm really excited to talk today about this concept, your book on quiet, quitting. We're hearing it everywhere. It's become ubiquitous in the HR and management leadership space for all companies. Let's just dive right in. What is quiet quitting?

What Is Quiet Quitting? [0:52]

Well, you know, quiet quitting is not new, but essentially it's people who are doing what's expected of them, but not going further. And you know, a lot of people refer to it as discretionary effort. So, that's the amount of effort that you put in. But then what do you do above that? And so quiet quitting is the new term that everyone's talking about right now.

LC : And why should we volunteer any more discretionary effort when we don't love? Right? Why should we, why should we do that? Well….

CSF : Yeah. Well, you know, there's a lot of work that shows that employees who are highly engaged, you know, they feel a connection to the mission and their work. They feel a connection to their work and their purpose, enjoy what they do. And so they're gonna want to do their best work always and then put in a little more. And companies that have highly engaged workers who are high performing do well.

And so we wanna care about that because if you have associates who are disengaged, then they're not maybe performing optimally for you. And then if they're disengaged, ultimately maybe they'll leave. And that's also an expensive value proposition.

The Three Types Of Employees [1:58]

LC : I always look at three types of employees, and I bet out there right now, you maybe in one of these buckets, people, so the number, the first bucket is people who want to have to continue. They feel like they have to continue in their job because they'll lose, obviously, you for financial reasons. You have to continue. The economy isn't doing so great. We have to bring food in our tables. We have to maintain our level of investments. And the other one..right? And the other one's normative. We, we've gotta continue on or we're, you know, we have to keep our norm or something bad may happen, which is things people might think.

The other one, the third is so important, which is effective. We love where we work, who we work for, the people we're working with and we want to do more. We want to get, you know, more involved and we want to give more than what's expected of us.

CSF : Right. So, that's the, that, that last group, the effective are people who wanna put more in the more discretionary effort. Maybe they're not, you know, quietly quitting. I actually frame it a little bit differently in my book, and I talk about three questions that people wanna ask themselves as they think about their careers or their roles. The first is, do you have the career you need? You know, does your career or your role provide you with the income, the time, the resources to be able to get the things that you actually need?

Do you have the career you need? And as it relates to quiet quitters. You know, people who may not feel that they have what they need right now, whether it's income or resources or the time for work-life balance, may not feel that they want to put an additional discretionary effort, it's gonna do what's asked, and then they go home.

The other thing around needs is since the pandemic and a lot of the conversations that we've seen around equality in our country, and even in the world, a lot of people are thinking about connecting their work to their purpose. Which takes me to my next question. Do you have the career you want? Does your career or role that you have connect to your passion, your purpose, your interest? Maybe what you trained for, what you went to school for, something you're curious about? You know, do you have the career or role that you want? And as that relates to quiet quitting, if people don't feel like they're really doing what they wanna do, like they're kind of, to your point, just kind of getting up doing the status quo, then it's gonna be really hard to feel really engaged because you're not doing what you want.

On the other hand, if you are in a role that you love, it's something that you're interested in, then you may wanna put in more effort because you're doing something that you actually want to do. Now, I'm sure there are people watching thinking, well, we can't all get what we want, Dr. Candace. Right? And that's, that's true.

However, if you find ways to engage your workforce so that you're helping them connect their value system or their values of the organization to the values that are shared with your employee population, then people are more close to the things that they want moving towards that effectiveness. And then the third question I always ask individuals to consider is, do you have a career you deserve?

Now, do you have a career that is aligned to the effort that you put in, or the role that you put in the training, the background, the years of experience, the access, the network based on things that you've actually earned? Do you have a career you deserve?

And how that relates to quiet quitters. If you feel that maybe you've had a conversation and someone said, you know, Louis, we need you to do X, Y, and Z, and then Louis you like, go do X, Y, and Z, and you don't get the, whatever that is, the raise, the promotion, the bonus, the new assignment, greater opportunity, then that could be demotivating. People feel like they've earned something. The whole idea of fairness comes up. 

And so people feel that they may not have the career role they deserve. And so oftentimes with a quiet quitter, maybe discretionary effort was there all along. However, something happened where that social contract that you had with your employer, your boss got disrupted. And so a worker who may have been effective or had an effective mindset now feels disengaged because they feel like there's a fairness issue, fairness issue, and they haven't gotten what they deserve. And so I frame it that way because a lot of times people think about their own self-interest, and those are map two behaviors around expectations, around what they need, what they want, and the whole issue around what they feel they've earned or deserved.

LC : I love that. It's such a great reframing and to look at the individual and what they want and need and their sense of belonging really, isn't it? And, and how, and how they're included in this structure of, "Hey, I am worthy of this promotion, this raise, I've done this. I've gotten the experience, the technical expertise." And we often overlook that.

There's another area too that has been interesting to me that people have said to me lately. They said, well, this quiet quitting, it's great. And I understand, and it exists. This is from an employee center, okay, technically from an employer. Cause employer completely understands this happening. It's completely, it's very prevalent. And so, the employee side says, well, what does that mean, I'm quietly quitting? Can I I literally chill out and relax? Some people, it's in the military- slow rolling and bureaucracy, right? Isn't it okay for me to take a step back? Haven't I earned the step back? So tell me about that. What do we, how do we address that?

Stepping Back And Having Conversations With Bosses About The New Expectations [7:49]

So, the first we have to step back and just think about what's happened in the last two and a half, almost three years, productivity for most workers went up during the pandemic. And what ended up happening is a lot of workers then started to suffer burnout. How many people if you're, if you're thinking about what your life was like since March of 2020 through now, like for those first years, people weren't taking vacations. They weren't doing the things that they normally did to relax or enjoy themselves. So they said, well, I'm at home anyway, or there's nothing else to do. I can't go. I'll just work.

And so, so much productivity took place, which was great. Then workers started to now feel like, okay, how do I normalize myself again? And what is now starting to happen is there's this conflict of this, you know, spike in productivity that became a new normal, and workers saying, well, actually the new normal is here. And it's, and, and workers are feeling like perhaps they don't want to keep operating at that level, even though maybe a firm needs that increased operational activity. And so what the worker needs to do is have a conversation and get aligned with their boss.

CSF : That's all because it's just, you know, if, if you, it's, it's just any type of behavior. When you change it and you do it for 21 days, it becomes a habit, right? And so then every, all expectations shift and we just now need to renormalize. But I think what's missing is the expectations are misaligned, and that conversation needs to take place so that individuals get more aligned with their manager.

And you have an honest conversation, you know, during the pandemic, yes, I was working 10 hours, 12, 14 hour days. I was working on the weekends and in the evenings because basically there was nothing else to do. Now the world is opening back up, I wanna go live my life again. Let's talk about what the new expectations are.

LC : And they do change. And sometimes is challenging to go to your boss and say, I want to have an alignment conversation. I wanna feel like I can say these things without fear of re, you know, retribution and, you know, being harmed for my, for what I want in life. And perhaps, and that's probably a part of the quiet quitting equation.

Finding Ways To Have “Courageous Conversations” With Employers [10:10]

CSF : Yeah. If you don't feel that you can have that conversation. Well, let me just say this. If there is an expectation of performance at a certain level and you're making a conscious decision not to meet that expectation, and a conversation doesn't take place so that your employer knows that that decision is made, then that's ripe for conflict. Right? And so what we wanna do is be able to know that we're in an environment where we can have that conversation, where you can have that conversation with your boss and say, “listen, I don't think we're on the same page with expectations about my performance. Can we talk about it?“

Or if you are in a situation where you cannot have that conversation, most likely there's gonna be risk to employment. And so what I say to employers, whenever I'm talking to groups or I'm speaking to employment resource organizations or groups, you know, you have to find those ways where you have those courageous conversations.

LC : Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Be brave, be bold, fierce in who we are and what we want, you know? And because that's the way we'll want to continue and, right? I mean,

CSF : That's right. And if you've made the decision with your behavior, it's important to just be able to have a conversation to back it up.

LC : You know? And one of the things I'm also seeing is that it's almost becoming allowable to slow roll it. It's okay that you're two weeks late. It's okay that, you know, we're one one week behind. Oh, let's just relax about it. And it's taking over the entire stream up to the, well, the, it stops the CEO. So, and it stops right there, right? And the executive committee team, definitely the board's not happening. They're demanding it of the ceo. So it's this whole massive of people who are saying, I'm quietly checking out here. And then the CEO's upset can't really wrangle it back because it's, you know, the, they're already already out of the barn. How do we help the CEO to get everything back?

Understanding The Shift In Value System And Having Conversations Around Expectations [12:12]

CSF : Will you always want to align any conversation with your mission and your values, your values as an organization? What I sense has happened is, what we've learned in recent history is the importance of giving grace. And we're seeing more empathy rise in the workplace. And so, whereas in the past, you may have worked all night and, you know, walked through a storm to get that report in. By the time people are now saying, well, you know, it's actually okay to bring your whole self. And if you weren't feeling well, okay, maybe it's okay, I'll give you some more grace. But what's happened is there that accountability that needs to be there, perhaps there needs to be a conversation or some type of dialogue so that accountability expectations are now aligned as we are giving people more grace and having more empathy enter into workplaces.

LC : That's a tough shift for a lot of CEOs, [laughs] to have that empathy, grace. Yeah, go ahead.

CSF : Well, you know, I've worked with a lot of CEOs, including now, and I can say that, you know, I've had great experience with people who are very empathetic, very empathetic leaders and leaders who need and expect accountability. What needs to happen now is just great conversations around expectations and understanding that value systems are shifting, and then how do you do both? And I, and, and I don't believe it's an either or. It's really a conversation around high about, around how we do it and how we can align, and then what are the right conversations that need to happen so that expectations are delivered on.

LC : It takes kind of a shift in the moment, doesn't it? And saying, you know, I could continue the way I'm going as a leader. I could continue doing what I'm doing and expecting, you know, different results. Or I could change, take a step back and shift to a place of empathy and less response, less reactivity, and have these kinds of open dialogues, these kinds of talks that are, that hear them put them first, the other first rather than always the board.

And all of a sudden the cycle or the system, the human system starts reinforcing up rather than down. So that one little leverage variable of empathy, right of, of stepping back can be, make all the difference.

Understanding How Different Generations Approach Communication [14:50]

CSF : So, as you know, I studied generational values, and I did study two years ago looking at all the different ways that we express interpersonal communications. And there are 12 different ways, and a scholar out of the UK actually framed them for us. But I did a study of 1500 individuals and I wanted to understand that of all the twelves, which ones resonated by generation group, and here's what we learned. Baby boomers really align to active listening.

So that means, like, if you're talking to someone who's a baby boom boomer, you are fully engaged. You're not interrupting, you're not like looking at your device like you are, like you're paraphrasing back what you heard. Even if they ask for an opinion, that's really validating what they said to you, active listening.

CSF : For Gen X, which is my generation, we can gravitate towards collaboration. So, that's, you know, working in teams, feedback, recognition. Some people say, we may be over recognized, you know, millennials, but the point is like, we like team-based building because when we came into the workplace, cross-functional teams and technology to allow that to happen. For millennials and Gen Z. So these are individuals who are in the workplace who are about 42 and younger, they resonate towards empathy.

So, when you talk about this shift, what we're starting to see is that these are individuals who wanna bring their whole selves to their experience and their career and in their roles. And so the shift has already started to take place, conversations around work-life balance certain types of benefits that do that. So the shift has already happened, it's just that we now need to understand that that crucial part of communicating and interacting with individuals has now started to elevate as it relates to as, as it relates to workers.

LC : Those generations are so much better than I'll ever be.

CSF : [Laughs] Everyone has something to offer.

LC : And you know, what's, what's good? What we're seeing is the people who are applying to, you know, our most loved workplaces, America's most loved workplaces, on both Newsweek, as well as just to get certified, all have programs that focus on empathy and dialogue. All of them. And there's a concerted effort at the top of the house to engage in open talks, dialogues, they brand them. They're part of the efforts in terms of providing everybody with the opportunity to take part in the business strategy or new product development.

Like everybody gets a say up and down across their organization. And so anyone really can have the opportunity to develop their careers, succeed in the organization. Yeah. And that's the new, that's the new way. It's the, and it's become more pervasive. We talked about this, I'm sure Dr. Candace you know, I'm, of course I'm only 25 or 26 years old. You're 20 or so, you're probably younger than me.

CSF : Every time I get to that age, it's better the next time we're around.

LC : I like that. "Every time I get to that age". So what I, what in our, in our generation though, we, you know, there's differences in that, isn't there? Right? There's differences. So, to create those programs and practices that are necessary and appropriate to be most loved, to be top is sometimes a stretch, sometimes a stretch.

Building Bigger Tables To Help Everybody Come Together [18:16]

CSF : It is. And you know, think back to when you started working just, you know, a decade ago, <laugh>. So, you know, the expectation is you walked into your organization, your company, your firm, and you left yourself at the door. You came on and you became the company man or company woman. And with the company's value systems and time schedule like that was expected and any other identity, whatever it was, was not allowed.

You know, you kind of assimilated. Today, what's great is now companies are being much more inclusive, allowing people to bring their whole selves in to the experience. And that's why we're seeing these wonderful type programs that are emerging and now that they exist and newer workers who are coming in are experiencing them, you don't wanna go back.

And so I often say making more room at a table doesn't mean you have to push anyone away. You're just building this bigger table so everyone can come together and enjoy what's on that table.

LC : And it, and it's manifesting in employee resource groups and the different types of. The ways that we recognize identities, the way that we you know, in include and, and bring everyone part of the process. Because if we don't do that, we run the risk, not just of quiet quitting. We run a lot of other risks, risk is risk management. There's legal, there's compliance, there's a possibility that you're also not attending to your customer needs.

CSF : Absolutely…

LC : And also, also, you're not gonna show up well in the media [laughs]

CSF : It's a win-win, right?

LC : It's a win-win for everyone, you know, on, on so many levels. And I love how you brought it to generation, because it shows that I, I do believe like you do Dr. Candace, that there are differences and each generation does get better and better and bring us toward a better place. Cuz there's people who really do need help in getting to this place. And it's, you know, you can't lie about, you know, the about numbers, equity numbers. You can't lie about inclusion numbers [laughs], you just can't. And so, it's not possible. Statistics speak loudly, you know, then you have reasonability to come to a specific conclusion with numbers.

Strengthening The Corporate Culture To Ensure Highly-Engaged Workers [20:37]

CSF : Absolutely. And the other thing I'll just, just add onto that is there's always an opportunity to grow. And what has really helped us grow is conversations around mental health and wellness, which were really not allowed in the past. And so now so many more things are on the table. So, you have an opportunity to have workers who are better equipped to manage everything that happens in life where they show up at work, if they know they can bring their whole selves to the experience and then they can be more engaged.

Oftentimes when I'm speaking with groups and they're talking about, you know, the individuals in those groups are talking about their companies, the things that they're talking about is what that culture looks like. And so all the things you're talking about are things you're doing to strengthen your corporate culture, your organizational culture, and you know, and then, then you end up with highly engaged workers, you know.

And so the notion of quiet quitting isn't even on the table because they were enjoying the culture, they feel supported. What they're doing is connected to their purpose. And so they wanted to do a little bit more than what maybe what's asked of them, because it doesn't even feel like work. They're just enjoying what they do and contributing.

LC : So last two questions. You're ready. So you said a lot. You've done wonder, wonderful information from Dr. Candace is recommend get her book quiet quitting, is that the right? I wanted to get the book up. Go ahead..

CSF : Oh, oh. So, Get Your Career In Shape.

LC : Get Your Career In Shape. I thought it's quite, I thought it was quiet…. Okay. It's Get Your Career In Shape.

So, look up, Get Your Career In Shape and we're going to put that in the bottom there on the comments and so that everybody gets this book, because this is the, this is really the book that created the concept around quiet quitting, brought the research around it, right? So, let me ask you, can Dr. Candace, one, one piece of advice for the employers, executive committee, right? The executive committee, the top of the house about the so important topic of quiet quitting of getting people's career in shape.

So, they really become part of the fabric of the company and volunteer to do even more for the company.

Candace’s Advice For Employers And Employees [20:58]

CSF : So, my advice is most companies do great jobs with listening sessions, you know, strategies to understand what's happening with their culture and putting great steps in place. What also ends up happening is that individuals are responsible for their own career development. And so any programs that you can put in place to strengthen an individual's ability to be able to do that is helpful. The other thing I'll say is just because there's a new label, quiet quitting, which we know is discretionary effort is out there. Now, it doesn't mean that workers won't put in discretionary effort. The key needs to be a dialogue in terms of what the expectations are and having paths in place to make sure that organization policies and practices and individuals know what those are.

And managers are able to have an environment and a conversation so that they can connect the dots.

LC : Outstanding. And, relationships are a two-way street, right? So let's go to the other side of the equation. The other conversation now are advised to employees who are thinking in this way.

CSF : Yes. You know, ask yourself those three questions, you know, do you have the career role you need? Do you have the career role you want? And do you have the career or role that you deserve? And if the answer to any of those questions that you ask yourself is no, it's really time to really focus on how you can get your career in shape.

LC : One more, cuz I forgot this. One for the candidates.

Candace’s Advice For Candidates [24:28]

CSF : Candidates, oh, that's a great one. So for candidates, what you really wanna understand is when you were, when you were researching organizations or having those conversations, is understanding what their culture is like. And not only their culture, what programs that they have that are important to you that resonate so that you find yourself in a situation where you are connecting what you want, what your passion, your purpose, and your skillset sets are to what that organization's value systems are, so that you feel that you can connect and feel engaged the entire time you're there.

LC : That's outstanding. Dr. Candace Steele Flippin, author of Get Your Career In Shape. Thank you has been wonderful today. What a wealth of information that you provided everybody thank, thank you for joining us. Thank you.

CSF : You're welcome. Bye.