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Quiet Quitting Is Real. Here's What You Should Do About It

New research from SHRM Research validates some parts of the quiet quitting narrative while challenging others.

Two women in glasses are looking at a notebook.

The Big Idea

A survey of HR professionals suggests "quiet quitting" is real, but the root of the problem may lie in organizational culture and management, posing a challenge to HR leaders.

The Frame

The term "quiet quitting" has been everywhere in workforce commentary lately. The idea is that some workers have decided to still perform their job duties, rather than join in the Great Resignation, but they are no longer going above and beyond.

New research from SHRM Research validates some parts of this narrative while challenging others. Some HR professionals are directly observing this trend, and some do see it impacting productivity. But the HR professionals most impacted by quiet quitting are more likely to attribute it to a workplace culture that encourages the behavior.

The Evidence

  • 51 percent of HR professionals are concerned about quiet quitting.
  • 36 percent report it's actively occurring within their organization.

Among HR professionals who are concerned that quiet quitting will have a negative impact on their workplace:

    • 83 percent are concerned about a decrease in employee morale.
    • 70 percent are worried about a decrease in employee productivity.
    • 50 percent think it might lead to a decrease in the quality of employee work products.

Almost half (45 percent) of HR professionals say their organization has struggled more than usual to motivate employees to go above and beyond the scope of their work in the past six months, while about two-thirds (67 percent) say productivity at their organization today is high.

However, at organizations where quiet quitting is occurring, 75 percent of HR professionals report struggling more than usual to motivate employees to go above and beyond and only 51 percent indicate that their organization is experiencing high productivity.

HR professionals say they've witnessed the following groups engaging in quiet quitting:

    • Millennial employees (those 26-41 years old) (cited by 72 percent of respondents).
    • Hourly employees (53 percent).
    • Salaried employees (46 percent).
    • Generation Z employees (those 18-25 years old) (42 percent).
    • Generation X employees (those 42-57 years old) (31 percent).
    • Managers (28 percent).
    • Individual contributors (25 percent).
    • Baby Boomers (those 58-76 years old) (15 percent).
    • Senior leaders (13 percent).

Nearly 2 in 5 HR professionals (38 percent) agree that the culture within their organization prompts quiet quitting. Among HR professionals who report that their organization is experiencing quiet quitting, the figure climbs to 60 percent.

The Next Step

Start by looking closely at how your organization sets expectations. Are your job descriptions accurate and up-to-date? What does "above and beyond" look like at your organization? Are there "above and beyond" behaviors that ought to be part of a role's core responsibilities? Are you effectively communicating expectations to staff?

Next, consider the role culture plays in allowing employees to disengage from their work. HR professionals who participated in the survey commonly cited management issues, such as lack of engagement, communication problems and poor people management, as being present in their organization.

Finally, HR professionals also cited issues posed by remote and hybrid work arrangements as potential causes of quiet quitting. It can be hard to motivate employees who aren't in the office each day, and it can be difficult to accurately assess their productivity. Ask what you can do to engage remote workers or increase the visibility of their work.

The Method

A total of 1,234 SHRM members participated in the survey. Academics, students, consultants and retired HR professionals were excluded. Respondents represented organizations of all sizes in a wide variety of industries across the United States.

The Resources

For You:

What Too Many CHROs Get Wrong About Employee Engagement

'Windowed Work' Improves Productivity, Satisfaction

Viewpoint: Quiet Quitting Is About Bad Bosses, Not Bad Employees

For Your Team:

Three Communication Tips to Raise Productivity

More-Authentic Workplaces Lead to Better Retention, Productivity

7 Ways to Create a Happier Workplace


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