HR Management & Compliance, Learning & Development

The Workers Doing Just Enough to Get By

Those who have spent enough time in the workforce have experienced the broad spectrum of engagement and work ethic that exists in many organizations. On one end of the spectrum are the gunners, who constantly go above and beyond out of a sense of duty or a desire to show off or simply because of how they were raised. On the other end are those who try to do just enough to get by.

remote work slackers

Slackers Flying Under the Radar

Pre-COVID, it was relatively easy to spot members of both ends of this spectrum. However, with the widespread shift to remote work, it’s become much easier for the slackers to fly under the radar.

Incidentally, this ability to shirk responsibility in secret was one concern that was widely discussed by employers with respect to remote work long before anyone had ever heard of COVID-19. But the shift to remote work coupled with the challenge many employers are having finding workers may have created a slackers’ paradise.

“Since Covid-19, employees have quit en masse and sought pandemic-era perks at different companies,” writes Alex Christian in an article for BBC Worklife. During this time, some have changed careers. Others have simply kicked back, enjoying an opportunity to do less. Christian writes, “Often working remotely without the watchful eyes of bosses, these employees are now putting in 30-hour workweeks on a 40-hour salary.

Time-Based vs. Task-Based Performance

Data suggests the pandemic has made such coasting widespread: a recent survey of 11,000 US workers found 39% were doing it, while a January 2022 study by US analytics firm Gallup shows half of employees say they’re neither engaged nor disengaged at work.”

At first glance, many readers’ reaction to this data may be shocked indignation. How dare these workers sluff off and continue to collect their full salaries? On the other hand, the data begs the question: If employees are fulfilling their job duties, does it matter if it takes them 40 hours per week or 10 hours per week?

Arguably, managers shouldn’t care if employees take long lunches or log in late if they aren’t neglecting any responsibilities. On the other hand, that spare time employees are being paid for could be used to address some of the resource constraints many workers are facing in a tight labor market.

Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.