While “quiet quitting” may mean different things, the phenomenon is generally understood to refer to employees who feel disengaged at work and no longer believe they are a meaningful part of the company or its mission. Those who quiet quit report they have made a decision not to go “above and beyond” at work and will just meet the bare minimum of performance expectations.
How Many Are Quiet Quitting?
A lot. The results of a recent Gallup poll from June 2022 indicate that 50% of all workers reported they identify as quiet quitters. In other words, half the polled workers owned up to doing the bare minimum at work due to feeling disengaged. What is more astounding is that an additional 18% of workers—or nearly one in five—reported they are “actively disengaged” and vocal about their dissatisfaction. Only 32% of workers reported they felt engaged.
How Bad Can It Be?
While complaining about the job is an age-old rite and shares the attributes of “clock-punching,” more than two-thirds of the nation’s workforce report feeling disengaged and admitting they are doing the bare minimum to collect a paycheck. A significant percentage take to social media to share their discontent. The discontent appears to be increased with a focus on getting workers back in the office. This level of dissatisfaction has ramifications for your company.
Recruiting and retention.During the COVID-19 pandemic, a record number of employees either quit or retired. Many of those who quit were soon rehired in a red-hot and tight job market. Quitting appears to be an extension of that phenomenon, with many of these remaining workers looking elsewhere. Companies that have a reputation for not making employees feel like part of the team or lack a motivated, engaged workforce will be less able to attract or retain needed talent.
Productivity. This should be pretty obvious. Two-thirds of a company’s workers report they are passively or actively refusing to exceed minimum performance expectations. This “low-energy” attitude will reflect on the company’s bottom line. A company that can increase productivity by having everyone row in the same direction will have competitive advantages over another.
Job performance. Are your company’s personnel evaluation metrics doing the job? How do you accurately note and quantify the efforts of those who do more than the bare minimum? While observing workers working only so hard can be frustrating, are you penalizing employees who meet company standards? This is not insignificant as job evaluations are critical documents for promotions, discipline, and the defense of unemployment and discrimination claims. As such, it is important that job performance be accurately recorded while noting the extraordinary efforts of others.
Union organizing. Experts who counsel companies on how to avoid unions will tell you the current atmospherics are a recipe for disaster. The number one reason for workers to form a union is not wages or benefits. It is a collective feeling that management is not responsive to their concerns and there is no effective way to communicate within the organization. It takes only a few disgruntled employees to plant the seed with others and serve as the advance guard for an organizational effort. A reported 18% of employees are actively disengaged, with many of those taking to social media to share the negative message. With organizational efforts on the rise, now is the time to act.
Some managers may discount the “quiet quit” movement as a passing fad advanced by slacking “snowflakes” who demand constant and unrealistic affirmation. If the Gallup polling is accurate, however, the data spells trouble for management given the size of the reported dissatisfaction. As employees talk and post, one must assume the feelings of dissatisfaction and disengagement are frequent topics of conversation.
Employers are encouraged to develop effective corporate communication, outreach, and team-building programs so every employee feels they have a voice and their contributions matter. In particular, if remote work programs are popular with most employees, find the right balance for your company. Review job performance goals and evaluation metrics to accurately reflect each employee’s contributions or lack thereof.
Paul J. Sweeney, attorney at Coughlin & Gerhart, LLP, may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.