The term ‘quiet quitting’ is trending. For the last few weeks, news outlets around the world have tackled this topic, and it doesn’t appear to be dying down.
In case you’re unfamiliar, quiet quitting refers to doing just enough work to fulfill job expectations — no overtime and certainly no over exertion. This may seem like Gen-Z simply rebranding the concept of “doing the bare minimum.” But the data suggests there’s more going on…
Just this September, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) confirmed a 74-year-low for national worker productivity.
Maybe quiet quitting is groundbreaking news, after all. We decided to take a closer look at the data to find out. Keep reading for an infographic explaining this concept and the statistics surrounding it, followed by a deeper dive into the topic.
Click to jump ahead:
- Quiet quitting infographic
- What’s going on with worker productivity in the United States?
- Disengagement and lower productivity are on the rise: what’s the impact?
- Quiet quitting adds even more uncertainty to an uncertain economic future
Quiet quitting infographic
So, what’s the actual impact of quiet quitting on the economy? How does reduced productivity affect everything from wages to policy? And what can managers do about it at the end of the day?
Check out this infographic for a summary of our findings:
What’s going on with worker productivity in the United States?
Worker productivity in the U.S. dropped to its lowest level since 1948 for the non-farmer business sector, according to the BLS. With a drop of 4.1% for Q2 of 2022, this is the second consecutive quarter reflecting negative numbers.
But what is productivity, exactly? According to The Wall Street Journal, productivity is defined as the output of goods and services workers produce for every hour they put into their jobs. So, by looking at the output of non-farmer industries in the country versus the number of hours worked, it’s possible to measure productivity.
In this case, the BLS shared in its revised quarterly report that worker output dropped by 1.4% and hours worked decreased by 2.7%. Last year, worker productivity stood at 2.4%, which indicates a 70% drop year over year.
This drop in national worker productivity coincides with a steady drop in employee engagement. Enter: quiet quitting. Beyond TikTok trends and viral LinkedIn posts, the data shows the real-world impact of this term. And not just the BLS’s data…
Only 32% of workers from the U.S. and Canada report being engaged at work, according to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace Report for 2022. Disengaged employees rose to 18% this year, according to the same data. This was a five-point increase from 2019 when the percentage of disengaged employees sat at 13%.
There’s a clear and strong correlation between highly engaged employees and company performance, says Gallup. Employees in the first percentile of engagement have a four times higher success rate than those at the bottom.
With the drop in national worker productivity and engagement across the board, companies can ignore quiet quitting at their own peril. This trendy term seems to be, in fact, a defining factor in the last quarter and doesn’t appear to have a clear end in sight.
Disengagement and lower productivity are on the rise: what’s the impact?
Worker productivity metrics are essential statistics that take into account the output of workers related to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) — which is one of the main indicators for the health of the overall economy.
The GDP is basically the gains generated by the economy. Less output at a higher cost equals less productivity in the form of income. The income could be reflected, for example, in company profits at a high level or on individual income in terms of earnings, as Jon Hilsenrath of The Wall Street Journal pointed out.
Higher Productivity = Higher Economic Growth
‘‘Productivity is ultimately the source of wage growth for workers, profit growth for companies and economic advancement’’ — Jon Hilsenrath, Editor at The Wall Street Journal
Productivity and a typical worker’s compensation have a strong positive correlation with each other: normally when productivity goes up so does compensation. Although there’s still a positive correlation, it’s worth noting there’s a growing gap between productivity and compensation.
All this to say, quiet quitting could be a silent killer not only for workers’ current and future wages, but for overall company profits and the prosperity of the economy. The lack of productivity nationwide and the potential impact of reduced output also puts policymakers on the spot.
Plus, there’s the uncertainty of it all. Without a clear idea of how worker productivity and other macroeconomic indicators will play out over the next couple of months, it can be difficult for institutions like the Federal Reserve to make long-term decisions regarding inflation and other possible policy mistakes.
Quiet quitting adds even more uncertainty to an uncertain economic future
There’s no doubt: the workforce is unsettled, stressed and trying to do its best through tumultuous times. On top of dealing with the tail-end of a life-altering pandemic, workers (alongside companies) have had to navigate rampant inflation and an uncertain economic future in 2022.
But quiet quitting adds even more uncertainty into the mix.
How will this drop in productivity impact the economy? What are the long-term consequences of workers doing less and less? Only time will tell.
We’ll be monitoring these events in the months to come to get a better idea of the impact of quiet quitting on the macroeconomic environment. But for now, here are some suggestions from our internal HR experts on how managers can address quiet quitting by better supporting employees:
Have you noticed a drop in productivity?
We’re curious to know, have you noticed a drop in productivity at your company? And if yes, what are you doing to address this quiet killer? What would you add to the suggestions above? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!