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“Quiet Returning”: The Flip Side of “Quiet Quitting”

Much has been written about “quiet quitting,” but there’s also another interesting trend: “quiet returning.”

In a nutshell, “quiet returning” means taking a break/retiring from the workforce and then returning to it. The reasons for the return vary: some seek the challenge of a conventional career again; others have financial obligations to meet; still others are looking for opportunities for growth or mental stimulation. Or maybe they are simply bored in retirement and just want something to do.

According to one study, one in four adults will take a break from their careers at some point. Whatever the reason, many re-entrants find that the attitude of employers has changed regarding the practice and have begun to understand the value of hiring re-entrants, especially considering the pandemic-refueled war for talent — and this includes enterprises ranging from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies. Employers realize that re-entrants bring valuable experience to the table, often accompanied by fresh perspective and new understanding.

For those interested in “quietly returning,” important steps include keeping abreast of developments in your area(s) of expertise (including accreditations, if applicable); catching up with personal associations made during your earlier days in business; and networking actively through professional associations and conferences. Finally, those who have taken a break need to be clear about how they can contribute to their prospective employer.

Some personal “quietly returning” stories include:

A mergers-and-acquisitions veteran who left her job as a managing partner because she wanted to slow down. She stayed home for a few years, took care of her kids, and did some volunteering. Then suddenly, she felt ready to return.

A senior healthcare executive who retired but got bored and needed to find something to do. Not seeking another leadership position, he went to work at a local car dealership, where he contributed his decades of leadership experience to improving the enterprise’s processes.

A retail executive who had been out of the workplace for many years and slowly started to miss it. To test the waters, he volunteered for various organizations, networking along the way and building up his skills. He ultimately secured a new role – with a 40 percent salary bump.

The stories go on.

Staring at a possible recession, but a still-hot job market, it’s a compelling “return proposition.” Having realized that the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the retirement side of the fence, re-entering the workplace can be a mutual “win” for both the employer and employee.


Attend the Business Value Forum breakfast meeting and presentation on Wednesday, December 7, 2022 from 7:30am – 9:30am at Bello Grand Hall, Bryant University. The featured speaker is Mike Ritz, an Executive Director at Gallup who will discuss “Quiet Quitting: The Reality, Impact and Antidotes.” Standish is privileged to be a sponsor of The Business Value Forum.


Stan Davis and Greg Mickelson are Standish Principals. Both also have decades of corporate leadership experience. At Standish, they work with business owners, executives and boards to secure the right leaders for accelerated growth, change, and succession.

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