Aké Satia is the Chief Vision Officer at Aké Satia, a Human Capital firm in the DC area focused on strengthening organizations by bolstering the intersection of people strategy and business strategy.



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When The Body Stays In The Building After The Heart Has Left

Dear Reader,

Today, I feel compelled to take a brief pause from our current series: What True Leaders Know to address an unsettling dynamic in the workplace. I hope this benefits you.

Enjoy the read!


Have you heard the term: Quiet Quitting?
How about, Quiet Firing?

If these terms are new to you, you may want to get familiar with them! Not because of the words per se, but because of the meaning behind the terms! First, you probably noticed that both phrases include the word: quiet! – Naturally, this would perk a leader’s interest because the word, quiet is not what a leader wants to use to describe their organization’s culture or people.

Think about it: When was the last time you heard a company leader boast about the number of “quiet customers or quiet employees” their organization had acquired in a meeting with shareholders? I’d venture to say you have likely never heard or seen this happen! Because in business, when we use the word: quiet to describe people, it often signals disengagement!

Naturally, this would lead one to ask: Why are we using the term quiet to describe two critical actions that involve employees? Furthermore, why are actions such as firing, and quitting described as quiet when they usually involve loud activities like farewell gatherings and communications to the organization?

Delving further into the meaning of the terms: quiet quitting and quiet firing offers some great insight!
Notably, there is a significant amount of research on these terms. But here, I will keep it simple!

First, quiet quitting and quiet firing are less about an employee choosing to leave or unwillingly leaving a job. – They are more about employees and leaders engaging in a manner that inevitably leads to that outcome.

Because Quiet quitting is synonymous with an employee saying: I will stay in the job, but I will give the company no more than I have to, i.e., the bare minimum!

And Quiet firing is like a manager saying: I don’t want to work with this employee. However, I do not want to put in the effort required to help them exit with dignity. Therefore, I will treat them so poorly that they decide to leave.

Now, this might sound a little blunt. And it is! But it also fits the circumstance at hand. Because these are not ideal practices in the workplace, and they can wreak havoc on an organization’s culture. – Quiet quitting and quiet firing happen when the body stays in the building after the heart has left! And they are telltale signs of disengagement! Notably, as humans, disengagement is not a new phenomenon. Indeed, without much effort, we can catch glimpses of disengagement during a brief sojourn in an office building or a quick meal at a restaurant!
Perhaps, you have witnessed this!

Have you ever walked into a restaurant, watched a couple having a meal, and noticed that during the entire two-hour dinner, they neither shared a glance nor exchanged a word? And once the waiter dropped off the bill at the table, one person stood up and walked out of the restaurant without acknowledging the other. When I lived in Seattle, I saw this happen twice. And I felt terrible for the couples! But what do we make of this? Sure, we all have bad days. And a break in connection and communication could occur once or twice. But when it becomes an unresolved pattern, it leads to disengagement.

And as in the case of a couple repeatedly ignoring each other, when employees and employers repeatedly ignore each other, it also signals disengagement. – Naturally, this would lead one to ask: Are many workers and managers disengaged in their jobs today? And how do we increase engagement in the workplace?

To start, it’s worth noting that increasing engagement requires more than simply telling employees to get back to work, setting stretch goals, throwing cash at employees, or offering a slew of discipline-specific training courses! Because engagement starts in the heart! And to drive engagement, the heart needs to be stirred. And how can we move the hearts of our team members? – Moving and engaging the heart starts with giving someone a cause to believe in!

Reflect and Imagine

Here are some questions you may ponder for yourself and your team:

What value do we provide in this job?
Why do I commit myself, time, and energy to this work?
How does my/ our work benefit others? And if I/ we stopped doing this work, what would be missing or lost?

When you have answered these questions, consider sharing your responses and insights with your team.

And it’s worth remembering that sincerely expressing interest in others’ perspectives drives engagement!

For you and to you,




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