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Use Background Screening to Combat “Quiet Quitting” in 2023

Man taking nap at desk with post-its over eyes.

For employees, there are a number of factors that drive workplace behavior.

One common factor is opportunity potential– an opportunity to provide value, make an impact, grow in a career, and increase future earnings through meaningful contributions.

Another factor could be company leadership and accountability. Better performance typically follows structure, accountability, and above all, fair treatment.

Surely, compensation is another prominent factor.

If an employee believes they are underpaid, undervalued, or disconnected from the organization, performance will almost certainly drop. With time, this can create a situation where an employee finds comfort in doing no more than the absolute minimum required.

This brings us to the concept of “quiet quitting”– a term that was virtually non-existent a decade ago but has become a growing concern for employers in recent years.

A Trending Phenomenon

Quiet quitting refers to when an employee does the least amount possible to avoid termination while continuing to collect a paycheck. There is actually no quitting involved.

Within the past four years, social media has boosted the trend of quiet quitting, making it staggeringly prevalent among American workers. Many would say this social media push has been damaging, promoting a culture of entitlement among job-seekers and discouraging an “above and beyond” attitude. 


According to a Gallup poll, “quiet quitters” make up at least 50 percent of the U.S. workforce. 

Yes, those are truly the results.

This data signals a clear (and growing) disconnect between employers and their employees– one that needs to be addressed.

But how do we address such a ubiquitous issue? Well, a logical place to start is pre-hire.

At least 50 percent of U.S. workers engage in quiet quitting (asset).

Get the Most Value Out of Your Screening Processes

As an employment screening company, we have brainstormed a few valuable ways your screening solutions/processes can work in your favor, helping to reverse this “quiet quitting” trend within your organization.

1. Add the Following Questions to Your Employment Verification Questionnaire

Employment verifications can often give prospective employers the opportunity to receive telling insights from a candidate’s previous employers. The questions asked can have a large bearing on the overall value received. 

We would recommend including these questions:

  • Did you notice any dips in productivity, particularly towards the end of their (the candidate’s) time with your company?
  • Was the individual a self-motivator or did they require a lot of direction and supervisor intervention?
  • Did the individual make a positive contribution to the culture of the company or were they more reserved in their duties?
  • How did the individual’s performance compare with other workers in the same department?
  • How did the individual’s attitude compare with other workers in the same department?

2. Leverage Social Media to Gauge Work Ethic

As we have mentioned in a previous publication, social media is a very important hiring tool. It can also be an effective post-hiring tool to determine if an employee is currently experiencing frustrations with their employer.

The vast majority of job seekers (and employees, for that matter) are active social media users, posting indications of their personality, character, and abilities for the public to see.

Various studies have suggested that troublesome employees/individuals will often make it known on their social networks. For employers, especially in this day and age, it is advised to lean heavily on social media as a resource. Whether you utilize your screening provider or conduct online research on your own (with due consent), the important thing is that you are acquiring those insights.

3. Consider Searching Civil Records

While criminal records tell an important story, so do civil records– and these stories are most often not found in the same place.

Including civil court insights on a candidate’s pre-employment background check is recommended in many situations. Civil courts process the following types of cases (and more):

  • Lawsuits among neighbors
  • Lawsuits against previous employers
  • Defamation
  • Breach of contract
  • Restraining orders
  • Debt collection, liens, judgments, and bankruptcy filings

Civil court information can help inform an employer’s decision. However, most civil information is very unlikely to show up on a standard criminal background report.

It could be argued that, in some instances, civil court information can more directly reflect the workplace attitudes/behaviors of an individual than criminal court information.

Some More Important Thoughts

Quiet quitting trends concept.

Company Culture Can Influence the Trend

It is a mistake to think that quiet quitting solely reflects the “poor attitudes of lazy employees.” Employers play a significant, perhaps even a primary role in keeping their employees enthusiastic and driven.

Recent studies have shown that decreased workplace engagement is often associated with a lack of leadership, lack of clarity of expectations, limited opportunities to grow and develop within the position, and not feeling acknowledged.

If you are finding a significant decrease in worker engagement over time, difficulty keeping employees motivated, or a general drop in morale, there are likely some company culture factors at play.

Incentives Work

Thinking like an economist, one will quickly turn their attention to incentives.

In a study by Genesis Associates, 85 percent of employees surveyed felt more engaged/motivated to do better when they were incentivized to do so.

That figure is too significant to ignore.

When thinking on the margin, would a $500, $1000, or even larger incentive expenditure (per employee) be justified if it yielded a year’s worth of better work quality? Most would probably agree that there is a considerable marginal benefit.


Let’s be honest, most employees, while generally invested in the health and progress of their employer’s company, are primarily concerned with their own situations. This is normal and natural. It would be irrational for employers to expect consistent, over-the-moon effort while not providing an adequate incentive.

That being said, it is possible to target new employees that are more aligned with a company’s values and more driven from the outset. Identifying those individuals and making those hires can help to significantly reduce the incidence of quiet quitting within an organization. Intentional background screening efforts can play a key role in this.

Furthermore, company culture and strategic incentivization will also play a key role in keeping employees motivated and willing to go above and beyond.

While quiet quitting proves to be an issue, there are effective ways to broadly combat it.

For more information on Peopletrail, visit us online.

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