'Quiet quitting' is nothing new — and bad managers are to blame, a new survey finds
- Half of US workers may have been "quiet quitting" for a decade, a new study finds.
- In the past two years, the number of workers who "quiet quit" has soared, it found.
Half your co-workers may have been "quiet quitting" for a decade, according to a new study.
"Quiet quitting" is a viral workplace trend that has been sweeping the internet this year after Insider published a story on "coasting culture" in March.
The term has also sparked a fierce online debate. Depending on who you ask, employees who "quiet quit" are either slacking or just refusing to work beyond their job description.
Despite its recent popularity, researchers at workplace analysis company Gallup say the trend is nothing new.
So-called "quiet quitters" are just workers who are disengaged or disillusioned with their jobs, says Jim Harter, the researcher who headed up the survey of just over 15,000 Americans conducted in June.
According to the research, quiet quitters have accounted for at least 50% of the US workforce since 2002, with that figure edging higher over the past two years.
"Employee engagement had been on the rise for a decade and then starting in the second half of 2021, concurrent with mass quit rates, the percentage of engaged workers dropped and the percentage that are actively disengaged grew," Harter told Insider.
Employee engagement took another hit in the three months to June this year.
According to the research, the proportion of engaged employees in the US workforce dropped to a six-year low of 32%, while the proportion of actively disengaged workers – what the study calls "loud quitters" – hit a six-year high of 18%.
This is because people have becomes less clear about what they expect from work, feel less cared about by their employers, and are less connected to the company's purpose, Harter said.
Overall, he thinks there is a growing disconnect between employees and their employers, with young workers driving the trend.
"Employee engagement has dropped, specifically among younger workers under the age of 35," Harter said.
He said new freedoms brought on by remote work and a strong labor market have left workers feeling "more emboldened to speak out about work and life boundaries."
But these disengaged workers, or "quiet quitters," are not good for anyone in the long run, the Gallup researcher added.
"It is a problem for organizations because most jobs today require some extra effort to collaborate and meet customer needs. It is a problem for individuals because being involved and enthusiastic about work is foundational to having thriving wellbeing," he said.
"Resenting work is not psychologically or even physiologically a good thing."
But fixing this disconnect between employees and employers doesn't mean contributing to a culture of overwork. Harter thinks the blame lies with how management roles have evolved in the modern working landscape.
"Managers' jobs need to be simplified to take care of the basics — goal and priority setting, ongoing conversations, and accountability," he said.
Harter said managers need to speak to employees in a meaningful way at least once every week, "discussing goals, recognizing good work, getting to know the person's strengths and work-life situation and preferences."
Quiet quitting, he argues, can be stopped if leaders learn to focus on the right things.
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