Career Compass

Unpacking Quiet Quitting with India Forster

Episode Summary

According to SHRM research, 51% of HR professionals indicate that quiet quitting is a concern, and 36% report that it's actively occurring in their workplace. In this of Career Compass, hosts Vernon Williams and Aly Sharp are joined by India Forster, Associate Manager of Talent Acquisition at Taco Bell Corp. to discuss the various facets of quiet quitting. Throughout the show, you'll learn skills to address quiet quitting, how to prevent quiet quitting before it starts, and discover new terms such as “quiet hiring”.

Episode Notes

According to SHRM research, 51% of HR professionals indicate that quiet quitting is a concern, and 36% report that it's actively occurring in their workplace. In this of Career Compass, hosts Vernon Williams and Aly Sharp are joined by India Forster, Associate Manager of Talent Acquisition at Taco Bell Corp. to discuss the various facets of quiet quitting. Throughout the show, you'll learn skills to address quiet quitting, how to prevent quiet quitting before it starts, and discover new terms such as “quiet hiring”.

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Episode transcript

Episode Transcription

Vernon Williams: Welcome back to Season 6 of Career Compass, a podcast from SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, and the SHRM Foundation. Career Compass prepares future leaders today for better workplaces tomorrow.

Aly Sharp: As the voice of All Things Work, SHRM supports students and emerging professionals with advice, information, and resources for every step of your career.

Vernon Williams: Designed for the student or emerging professional, Career Compass delivers timely, relevant, and critical conversations about work to help you succeed in your career journey. Thank you for joining us for this episode. My name is Vernon Williams, and I will be your co-host.

Aly Sharp: My name is Aly Sharp, and I will be your other co-host. This season we're doing things a little differently to celebrate SHRM's 75th anniversary. That's right. SHRM is celebrating 75 years of supporting HR professionals in the workplace as a whole.

Vernon Williams: To honor this milestone, we're hosting seven episodes focused on HR from the past, present, and future with a common thread of driving change.

Aly Sharp: Joining us on today's episode on the present day topic of quiet quitting is associate manager of Talent Acquisition at Taco Bell, India Forster. Also, just so you know, this episode is valid for professional development credit or PDCs for the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP. We will provide the code later in the episode. With that, let's get started. Whahoo. Vernon, as you know, we have been talking about this for months, and I've been really looking forward to this. You've worked at several places. I want to know, have you ever engaged in quiet quitting?

Vernon Williams: You're putting me on the spot just a little bit here, but heck no, I have never engaged in quiet quitting. I'm just not built that way. I think now is probably a really good time to tell our listening audience that I will be transitioning or, maybe when you're listening to this, have already transitioned to another role within SHRM. As you all know, as part of the production of this podcast, I could have very easily quiet quit on all of you all and kind of left you to do all of the work related to making sure that these are successful. But as you saw firsthand, that's just not how I function. I always want to make sure that I leave things in a better place than how it is that I found them, so the option to quiet quit is not really an option for me. I'm glad that you did mention that you were excited about this topic because we have talked about it quite a bit. We had some other ways that we could maybe go about introducing this topic, but tell me, Aly, why are you excited about this episode?

Aly Sharp: It's been floated around, and I think a big portion of why quiet quitting became so popular is because of Gen Z and how we... That's me, not Vernon. Vernon's a Millennial. He's an elder Millennial.

Vernon Williams: I'm not going to age myself, but we're just going to let you slide with that Millennial.

Aly Sharp: But as a Gen Z, personally I take offense to it because I also do not partake in quiet quitting. It kind of makes me upset that that's kind of the title or the effect that my generation has had on the workforce thus far. But hopefully we can get some explanation or some further understanding of what that looks like.

Vernon Williams: Well, let's get started. India Forster's an associate manager of Talent Acquisition at Taco Bell Corporation. India and her team partner closely with the restaurant support center, corporate office, and stakeholders to deliver top talent to the organization. India specializes in working across multiple functions such as technology, international, marketing, and digital. India is a graduate of the University of California Los Angeles, UCLA, where she played Division I water polo. She attributes her life experiences to collegiate sports and being a first generation American, having both parents come from the UK. This has helped fuel her drive of helping people from various backgrounds to achieve their career aspirations. We are extremely excited about today's episode. With that, Career Compass would like to warmly welcome India Forster.

Speaker 3: Yay!

India Forster: Thank you Aly and Vernon. I'm so excited to be here and for [inaudible] on this invitation. I cannot wait to share some stories and insights with you and everyone else listening.

Vernon Williams: India, I got to say, one of the things that really attracted me about having you on as our guests is our shared, I guess, passion and interest and participation in Division I sports. So I want to start things there and help our audience get to know you a little bit better. As we mentioned in your bio, you did play water polo at UCLA and graduated with a degree in history. How did you transition from that background with history into human resources, and why talent acquisition?

India Forster: I fell into talent acquisition. I don't know if that's the correct response. Through networking, I had great relationships across other sports outside of just water polo. I was chatting with one of my friends that had just graduated and fell into the talent acquisition space, and she asked if that's something that I'd be interested in. So I had multiple conversations with a variety of different individuals across multiple industries. I was like, "I think I could do recruiting. That sounds really interesting to me. Let's give it a shot." So I went into the interview and I have been in that space and growing in that space ever since.

Vernon Williams: That makes a lot of sense. So I want to follow up with that and just ask, are there lessons that you learned through sports that carry over to your work within human resources?

India Forster: Yes. I would say building strong relationships and rapport with my teammate has allowed me to do so in the workplace. It's also allowed me an opportunity to understand recognition and the impact that has with my peers. I was able to really understand different communication style and the importance of listening to my peers and my team members. I think I've been able to incorporate that into my current work, and it allowed me to succeed in my responsibilities. Then also networking. I'll probably mention this a hundred times throughout the podcast. I think networking is critical, and I've gotten my roles outside of school through networking. So that is one of the biggest takeaways I've gotten. It really allowed me to establish my relationships.

Vernon Williams: I love how you started that off specifically talking about the teamwork aspect because we're talking about quiet quitting in our introductory comments when Aly asked me about it. I think that's at maybe the root of that is because when you play a sport and you recognize that you have teammates and others that are depending on you, for you to leave that function early or not give it your all, you're sort of quitting on the team. I think we're all taught that from a very early age. So I love that that's worked its way into the things that you learned from sports that you carry over into the workforce.

Aly Sharp: We've heard so much about quiet quitting or setting workplace boundaries. I want to ask, in your opinion, what is your definition of quiet quitting?

India Forster: Personally, I don't love the term quiet quitting. I do believe it's very similar to the term of disengagement, but with almost some new branding that we've added to it. I think everyone has different perspectives and different experiences. But at the end of the day, I feel employees are not given an opportunity to express themselves and aren't feeling valued, whether it's by the work that they're given, the trust in leadership, or even fair compensation.

Vernon Williams: I want to follow up on valued. Particularly since we've got new or emerging professionals listening to this podcast, what are some of the tips that you could provide to help with some of the engagement that might lead to less quiet quitting?

India Forster: I think it's really taking a moment to understand what you're looking to get out of your current responsibilities in your job. Is it something that's fulfilling and exciting? If it's not, how do I seek those, whether that's through mentorship or even working with your coach? You'll hear me using the term coach quite a bit, your manager or someone that you're reporting into, because I love the thought of having someone that's able to help you get to that next step. I think it's fitting with the sports piece, too. We've kind of talked a lot about that already. You lean on your coach to be able to get you to that next step, give you the feedback that you need, and also that inspiration to keep moving forward to get to that ultimate best spot in your career. So I think being able to lean on someone else is going to really help you moving forward.

Vernon Williams: Next question. A SHRM article indicated that younger employees were more at risk for quiet quitting than older employees. In fact, I think the report said something like 72% of HR professionals had witnessed quiet quitting amongst younger workers. What are your thoughts on the sentiment that quiet quitting is another sign of the younger generation's supposed lack of professionalism?

India Forster: Coming from the younger generation, I feel a lack of professionalism might not be the correct term that we could be moving forward with. I believe that we're not equipping the younger generation with the tools and skills to establish boundaries professionally. With boundaries, I really feel that's a way for us to alleviate burnout with the younger professionals. I was actually listening to another podcast from Dare to Lead. Someone had brought up this perspective of, if you have a senior person establishing boundaries, they're finding their balance. Versus if you have someone that is a junior person and they're doing the same thing, it's labeled as quiet quitting. So my question is, why is it not one and the same? Why is there a difference based on your seniority within an organization?

Vernon Williams: That's a great question, and I completely agree and sort of align with what you're talking about because I think things have changed over time. I remember when I first started working, and I'm about to date myself a little bit, we didn't have the technology where I was sort of always on. I think I was working with a pager at that point. I used to go on vacations and specifically go on cruises because you couldn't get service on the water. All of that's changed. You can get service pretty much everywhere now. So there isn't that opportunity to take a step back and not be working or have the opportunity to work so you can always be reached. You always have to be on, especially depending on what your role is. So setting those boundaries, I think, would help. Have you ever, India, been involved in one of those conversations? How would you recommend to an emerging professional they go to their manager and have that conversation about seeking some more boundaries within work?

India Forster: I feel like this is a skillset that we all need to learn. I believe setting boundaries is almost like a negotiation to some point. How do you share with what you are okay with and what isn't okay? What are you comfortable with with your current responsibilities? How do you ask an open-ended question versus a yes or a no? Because I feel like you can have open dialogue and really set up, like, "This is what I'm required to do. This is how I get to that step. This is what I'm comfortable doing." I feel if you can build that rapport and listen to both sides, it alleviates that tension to make sure that you both are on the same page.

Aly Sharp: Let's talk solutions. What can people managers do in order to prevent quiet quitting? I know you touched on employee engagement. Maybe give a little bit more evidence on that. What advice do you have for individual contributors who are considering quiet quitting? In my mind, it's setting boundaries, maybe not being burnt out. Maybe recommendations for combating that.

India Forster: I think the key is listening and listening to your employees and what their needs are and what their wants are. I feel like that's sometimes difficult to do and almost being upfront about role growth and understanding the employee's aspirations. If you can connect the dots of the organization and their goals and relate that back to the individual's goals and create alignment and synergy between the two, I think that'll alleviate some of this pressure of not being heard and almost enabling quiet quitting.

Another piece to it is transparency is key. Something that I hold really dear is I believe if you want employees to go the extra mile, that really stems from leadership having a mindful understanding of boundaries: How do I grow this employee by leading them on a path to get them to their next step in their career and what they're inspiring to do? I think in the talent acquisition space, the number one thing I hear from candidates when I'm doing interviews is, what opportunities do I have for growth? Am I going to be able to grow within my current role? What steps are going to be put in place to help me get to that point? So how do we empower our current employees with trainings or enabling them that they are heard, recognizing the work that they're doing, and helping them get to that next step in their career?

Vernon Williams: India, I think you're really starting to get to the point of quiet quitting or the root of quiet quitting. Because I think the lack of connection that is between potentially the manager and the employee is probably where the quiet quitting or whatever we're calling it, and why I think Aly has such a distaste for it, those words, I think that's where that comes from. Because I think there's an expectation that it's changed, that a company is supposed to care more about things than just the bottom line of how much money we're making or productivity. Where there's an expectation now that companies and organizations are caring more about the employee and focusing on things like professional development and benefits and all of these other things that previously, I think, especially when I talk to more senior generations even than I am, how things functioned in the past. If you went to a place, you stayed there for 30 years. You built your widgets or whatever you were doing, and there wasn't a focus on development or career trajectory or those sorts of things. At least that's the way that I'm interpreting it.

India Forster: I really align with what you had just mentioned. What we've been seeing is most younger professionals, they're leaving an organization after two years. I think that is because they are lacking that professional growth or that opportunity to do so in their current role. So if we're able to combat that, I think employees would stay places longer. If they had just the guidance or even someone that's giving them the tools to be successful, they would be staying with an organization longer.

Vernon Williams: Absolutely. I think SHRM puts out a lot of research saying exactly just that. I want to pause just for a second to take care of a couple of housekeeping items. First, those of you listening to this podcast who are seeking professional development credits, this program is valid for 0.5 PDCs for the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP. The code to redeem your PDCs is 24-SQK67. Please note that this code will expire on April 5th, 2024. Again, the code is the number 2, the number 4, the letter S as in Sierra, the letter Q as in Quebec, the letter K as in kilo, the number 6 and the number 7.

Aly Sharp: Speaking of PDCs, one place to earn several PDCs, 28 in fact, while networking with peers, connecting with mentors and expanding your HR knowledge is at SHRM '23, taking place June 11th through 14th in beautiful Las Vegas. The SHRM Annual Conference & Expo, which has drawn more than 20,000 attendees in the past, is a can't miss experience for any current or emerging HR professional. You can register now to take part in the curated student experience featuring career focus programming and discounted member pricing at just $425 for in-person registration and $275 for virtual passes. For more information, you can visit the link in the description of the show.

Vernon Williams: Jumping back into the podcast, following the rise of quiet quitting, and we should not be surprised by this because there's always a yin and a yang, a give and a take, there was the term quiet hiring, which is when an organization acquires new skills without actually hiring a full-time employee. So while it could mean bringing on short-term contractors, it usually refers to an organization giving current employees more responsibilities beyond the scope of their current job description. India, what are your thoughts on the concept of quiet hiring?

India Forster: I feel like companies have been doing quiet hiring for a long time even before it became this buzz word. I think it's an opportunity for us to reevaluate the talent that we have internally within our organizations. I think if you have the ability to connect with your current employees and understand where they might want to grow within their career and give them an opportunity to step into a new role. I believe communication is huge within quiet hiring. I think if you're able to have a conversation with the employee and share that it's going to elevate them into this next step in their career if they're able to complete X, Y, and Z and take the trainings to do so, I think that's a very positive way to keep internal talent within your organization. I believe if a role changes and there's not communication given to the employee, that's where there could be that sense of risk of employee morale because they're not seeing what the end goal could be of getting to that next step in their career.

Vernon Williams: Our previous episode focused on workplace romance, and we always think of relationships as being between people. We forget that organizations are made up of people, and communication is always going to be critical in any relationship. So I love what you talked about there of keeping those open lines of communication between the organization and the employee to say that, "This could set you up for success in your next role, even maybe not with our company, but perhaps with another company." So there's some skills and some personal growth that can be developed there. I love that.

Aly Sharp: Let me ask you, what do you consider the biggest accomplishment of your career or a moment when you drove change for the betterment of the organization?

India Forster: I'm going to lead back into the internship program because that's definitely been my baby over the last few years at Taco Bell. I think it's allowed us to work closely with our foundation, which if you're not familiar with the foundation, they're scholarships to students to give back to their passions and allow them to be able to go after their passions, whether that's in their career or changing the world. We've had opportunities to really engage with the students and get them set up for success when they are looking to make their way into the working world outside of university. So having these conversations and speaking at different events or even having one-on-one meetings with the students and giving them the tools to be set up for success, that's been something really close to me.

It's also allowed an opportunity with our organization. We tend to not have entry level positions within Taco Bell, so giving someone that opportunity to make the step into this organization has been really close to me. To see the work that they've done from when they joined to now, it's just a breath of fresh air. They have been able to make such big impacts in such a short amount of time that I think empowering our organization to continue to hire students out of school and their visions that they're able to bring in, I think sky's the limit on the opportunity of change that could be brought in.

Vernon Williams: Of course. I love it that you're providing opportunities for students and emerging professionals. Of course, that's a big part of what we're trying to do on this podcast. As listeners are hearing that, perhaps there might be opportunities for them to join Taco Bell as an organization and maybe apply for one of these internships. Where can they learn more about that, India?

India Forster: We are in the middle of transitioning our internship program right now. We're going to be doing a whole revamp of the experience and how the students can apply. We will be posting our jobs through Handshake and then also with university partners that we work closely with. I think this could be an opportunity as well to partner with SHRM and maybe get some of our jobs live in front of the students so they can get access to applying to those roles.

Vernon Williams: India, don't threaten me with a good time. We'll get you out of here on this one. Sort of continuing a little bit off of your answer for things that you are proud of within your career, what advice or guidance would you give to students or emerging professionals seeking a career in human resources?

India Forster: I think networking is critical for a job in human resources and even outside of human resources. I think if you can build that connection and have open dialogue about what other opportunities are out there and really have someone that can vouch for your skills, it's just going to help you amplify within your career and making that step from university to the workforce.

Aly Sharp: I totally get it. The last annual conference is actually how I met my current boss. I was helping Kevin out at the student union. It's a good time. Everybody should come, by the way. I met my current boss there, and we just started talking about marketing. Because, India, I didn't say this, but I'm on the marketing team for the student segment. A lot of what I do, I just get to talk to people who are pretty similar to me. So that was a really big portion of sharing my goals and aspirations with her just to talk to her.

Then she was like, "We have this opening on the team. You should definitely talk to HR. See if you can swing it, make it work, anything like that." So definitely, definitely to all the students, talk about what you're interested in, no matter who it's to because you don't know who that person knows. They can line you up with an interview. At the very least, maybe just have a conversation, act as a mentor, or just someone who can give you advice on being in the career space. I think, share your aspirations, the more people, the better.

Vernon Williams: I think just to bring this conversation full circle, Aly, because I can't imagine when we brought you onto that student union you realized how many hours that was going to be-

Aly Sharp: No.

Vernon Williams: ... so you were certainly not quiet quitting. Again, transferrable skills. People get to see you, people notice you, and then in some cases, it works out to a different job opportunity.

Aly Sharp: Absolutely.

Vernon Williams: India, thank you so much for taking the time to share your HR journey for helping us take a look at the hot topic of quiet quitting.

India Forster: Thank you both. I really appreciate it.

Aly Sharp: With that, we're going to bring this episode of Career Compass to a close. We'd like to thank SHRM and the SHRM Foundation for providing us with this platform. But more importantly, we'd like to thank you all for joining us, and we hope you stay with us throughout this season as we discuss more topics like this episode.

Vernon Williams: For more exclusive content, resources, and tools to help you succeed in your career journey, consider joining SHRM as a student member. You can visit us at to learn more about being a part of a community of over 300,000 HR and business leaders who impact the lives of over 115 million employees worldwide.

Aly Sharp: If you like what you heard today, follow and subscribe to Career Compass on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, or wherever you listen to your podcasts. If you have a topic we think we should cover or a guest we should hear from, please email us at

Vernon Williams: Lastly, are you looking for more work or career-related content? Check out All Things Work and Honest HR at Thank you for listening, and we'll catch you on the next episode of Career Compass.