I’m not sure how we are using the term "quiet quitting" when people are still doing their jobs, but are choosing not to sacrifice their work/life balance. When I read people are cutting back from working 60 hours, as opposed to a 40-hour week, it brings to light that many workers feel obligated, or are required to overwork to keep their jobs.
It’s absolutely understandable in this age of job uncertainty. We hear about all of the job openings, only to find out that many companies are laying off employees. Given the current economic situation, it's hard to balance how many hours we should be working so it doesn't infringe on a healthy work/life balance while knowing we need employment.
Gallup reviewed the overall trend and found some interesting results. First, it noted that “quiet quitters” make up at least half of the U.S. workforce. And in this case, the definition is that people are meeting their job description and not going above and beyond.
Another way of looking at this issue is by looking at employee engagement rates. Gallup reviewed data from Q2, and while the proportion of engaged workers was 32% the proportion of actively disengaged workers increased to 18%. To put this in perspective, the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged is now 1.8 to 1, which is the lowest in almost ten years. And this translates into the fact that most employees who fall in the not engaged or actively disengaged category are already looking for another job, the study found. The findings are based on a sample of 15,901 full and part-time U.S. employees.
Not surprisingly, it’s the younger generation that is most affected by this. Since the pandemic, younger workers report a decline in seeing opportunities at work and also feeling cared about by their managers.
This sentiment that it’s the managers that are at fault for the increase in" quiet quitting" is the topic of an article in the Harvard Business Review, entitled “Quiet Quitting is About Bad Bosses Not Bad Employees.”
The authors studied “quiet quitting,” which they said is a new name for an old behavior. "Our researchers have been conducting 360-degree leadership assessments for decades, and we’ve regularly asked people to rate whether their work environment is a place where people want to go the extra mile.”
Looking at data they gathered since 2020 on 2,801 managers, who were rated by 13,048 direct reports, they found that 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. These managers had 14% of their direct reports quietly quitting, and only 20% were willing to give extra effort. But those who were rated the highest at balancing results with relationships saw 62% of their direct reports willing to give extra effort, while only 3% were quietly quitting.”
This article notes that if employees feel valued or inspired by a manager, they will work hard to achieve their goals.
But in my opinion, that’s skirting the issue. Doing a good job or being a dedicated employee should not require you to put in, on a regular basis, that many hours, especially to the point that it interferes with the rest of your life. There are jobs out there that are realistic about the scope of the job and the number of hours necessary. They respect workers’ time and will only on occasion ask for additional hours.
Running a company that is based on overworking employees, is a substandard business model that might have been sustainable in the past when workers had fewer choices, but given the choices workers have today, it's unsustainable.