Updated Sep 7, 2022 - Economy

Most workers say they're "quiet quitting"

Illustration of a pencil drawing a line around a briefcase.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

At least half of American workers say they're “quiet quitting” — performing only the tasks they’re required to, giving up on going “above and beyond," according to a new Gallup survey.

Why it matters: The pandemic made nearly all work harder to perform and that extra labor has taken a toll on employees — especially younger workers. They're responding by putting more and more distance between themselves and their jobs, or looking for new jobs.

By the numbers: The proportion of “actively disengaged” workers is now at 18% — the highest it’s been in nearly a decade, according to Gallup.

What they’re saying: “This is a problem because most jobs today require some level of extra effort to collaborate with coworkers and meet customer needs,” Gallup’s workplace management chief scientist, Jim Harter, writes. 

Yes, but: Not all workers feel like they can “quiet quit.”

  • Women and other under-represented groups in the workforce may feel that they will suffer disproportionate setbacks if they are seen as stepping back from "enthusiastic participation in work activities," Melissa Swift, U.S. Transformation Leader at Mercer, tells Axios.

Between the lines: The onus is on managers and leaders to define expectations more clearly and build relationships with workers. 

  • “The least effective managers have three to four times as many people who fall in the ‘quiet quitting’ category compared to the most effective leaders,” Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman of Zenger/Folkman consultancy write in Harvard Business Review.
  • Worker engagement started slipping during the second half of last year, when an increasing number of workers were also quitting their jobs, Gallup noted.

Our thought bubble: Workers appear unwilling to weather a potential downturn in the same way they did the last one in 2020 — by clocking in at all hours to get the job done, Axios' Javier E. David notes.

What to watch: Unionization efforts have been on the rise since the start of the pandemic.

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