There’s an ancient adage that says, There’s nothing new under the sun. And so it is with a phrase that began to emerge late in 2021—Quiet Quitting. It means employees show up for work putting in no more time, effort, or enthusiasm than absolutely necessary to collect a paycheck.
According to the Gallup organization, Quiet Quitters make up at least 50% of the U.S. workforce. Gallup defines quite quitters as “not engaged.”
The drop in engagement began in the second half of 2021, about the same time the “Great Resignation” began. A Gallup survey shows that the overall decline is related to employees’ perceptions of
- clarity of expectations
- opportunities to learn and grow
- feeling cared about
- a connection to the organization’s mission or purpose.
Add that all up and it leads to a growing disconnect between employees and their employers.
The Gallup survey shows:
- 32% of works are engaged
- 18% are actively disengaged
The 18% are defined as “loud quitters.” These employees tend to have most of their workplace needs unmet and they spread their dissatisfaction. They have been most vocal in TikTok posts that have generated millions of views and comments, and is most likely the reason that quiet quitting has spread exponentially across all social media.
Gallup finds a decline in engagement and employer satisfaction among remote Gen Z and younger millennials—those below age 35. This is a significant change from pre-pandemic years. Since the pandemic, the number of younger workers who feel they are not cared about or don’t have opportunities to develop has declined significantly.
- The percentage of engaged employees under the age of 35 dropped by six percentage points from 2019 to 2022.
- During the same time, the percentage of actively disengaged employees increased by six points.
- The number of younger workers who strongly agree that someone cares about them, someone encourages their development, and they have opportunities to learn and grow has dropped by more than 10 points.
- Fully remote and hybrid young workers who strongly agree that someone encourages their development dropped 12 points.
- Less than four in 10 young remote or hybrid employees clearly know what is expected of them at work.
Remember, there’s nothing new under the sun. Quiet Quitting is just a variation of Retiring in Place, which has been around for a long time. Retiring in place often happens among older workers who are just a few years from retirement. Like their Quiet Quitter counterparts, the Quiet Retiree is not engaged, and works just hard enough to keep from being fired until they’re eligible for retirement. The motivation for retiring in place may be slightly different than that of quiet quitters, but the outcome is still the same.
With a year of quiet quitting behind us, a new phrase is emerging—Quiet Firing. It subtly freezes out an employee by either avoiding one-on-one conversations, refusing to provide feedback, neglecting to share critical information needed to do a job, passing them over for a promotion or subjecting them to stingy raises — or no raise at all — while co-workers are awarded more. Resumebuilder.com says one in three managers in the United States has used quiet firing.
Resumebuilder.com goes on to say that even if quiet quitters aren’t on the quiet firing line, they are more likely to end up on the chopping block anyway. Three-quarters of managers think it’s okay to fire staffers who aren’t putting their all into their jobs. Employment lawyers Howard Levitt and Peter Carey warn, “Workers putting in the bare minimum might want to take that to heart if they plan on keeping their jobs through a recession and possible layoffs. Quiet quitting will simply make it easier to determine whose head is going to roll.”