Growing fears of a recession may be prompting workers to press pause on looking for a new job with a higher salary and better perks, but that doesn’t mean quiet quitting is a thing of the past.

Quiet quitting gained notoriety on TikTok in the summer of 2022 when thousands of people started posting videos declaring they would be opting out of tasks beyond their assigned job duties so they could prioritize their personal lives. Burned out by the demands of the pandemic, quiet quitters were essentially saying that they weren’t finding value or meaning from their work; therefore, they weren’t inspired to do anything more than the bare minimum.

The trend stands in stark contrast to worker sentiment from just a few years ago. Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace: 2022 Report notes that before the pandemic, employee engagement and well-being were rising globally for nearly a decade. Today, they are stagnant. In fact, the report states that only 21 per cent of employees are engaged at work and just 33 per cent are thriving, with many saying they don’t find their work meaningful.

So how can managers and employers help workers stay happy, engaged and challenged? Here are three behaviours that can make a difference.

1. Listen with empathy

The past few years have been stressful. The pandemic, economic volatility and international turmoil have presented workers with a host of challenges and changes beyond their control — and it’s taking a toll on them.

Caroline Webb, leadership coach and author of How To Have A Good Day, has advised hundreds of CEOs and leaders in organizations all around the world. She says managers need to take note of how their people are feeling and find ways to support them. Managers who pay attention, Webb says, can spot when a team member is disinterested or not contributing based on their core role.

“That’s a crucial opportunity,” Webb explains, “The manager needs to have the conversation to find out what’s not going well because one conversation can unlock the issue. Sit with them, get curious and ask questions about how to solve the issue so the conversation is solution focused.”

Disengaged employees also affect the bottom line. According to the Gallup Report, low engagement alone costs the global economy $7.8 trillion.