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- 65% of employees consider themselves a "quiet quitter."
- Quiet quitters are 36% more likely to say their manager influences their work ethic.
- To weed out potential quiet quitters, 61% of HR professionals ask interviewees what they love about their current or previous role.
A Shift in Workplace Philosophy
"Quiet quitting," or doing the minimum amount of work required to keep a job, is rapidly spreading through the workforce. To find out how this trend affects workplaces, we surveyed more than 1,000 full-time employees about these behaviors and the reasons behind them. We also asked hundreds of human resources (HR) professionals about their strategies for identifying and handling quiet quitters. Read on to find out how businesses try to prevent quiet quitting and how you can catch it before it happens in your workplace.
Why Employees Quietly Quit
To begin our investigation into quiet quitting, we asked survey participants how they define it, if they consider themselves a quiet quitter, and what factors impact their work ethic.
Forty percent of employees surveyed define quiet quitting as only taking on work tasks within their job description. For them, duties assigned outside work hours, special projects, and the like, aren't required and, therefore, not their responsibility. They clock in, do their job, and clock out.
Another 24% define quiet quitting as setting firmer boundaries at work, possibly in an attempt to ensure their career doesn't infringe too much on their personal life. Having a good work-life balance is an issue many struggled with during the pandemic, particularly after switching to a work-from-home lifestyle. Our remaining respondents view quiet quitting as an indirect or slow way to quit their job: 23% say it's a way to get fired rather than quit, and 10% define it as a decline in work before resigning.
Based on these definitions, 65% consider themselves quiet quitters, with remote workers being most likely to do so (81%). Hybrid workers have the second highest rate of quiet quitting (61%), while in-office workers are the least likely (38%). Some aspects of quiet quitting might be easier to get away with while working from home versus at the office, where employees tend to be monitored more closely. With this in mind, our findings make it easy to see why companies are eager for employees to return to the office.
So, why are many employees suddenly choosing to forgo any duties beyond their job responsibilities? The majority of quiet quitters say their manager affects their work ethic (57%), as does their mental health (55%), and salary (51%). Employees who feel they are not adequately compensated may also be less willing to tolerate an unpleasant boss or unbearable co-worker — both factors that have impacted the work ethic of more than half of those we surveyed.
On the other hand, other employees who don't consider themselves quiet quitters said it's the job itself that drives their work ethic: More than half (61%) say their job responsibilities influence their work ethic. As with their quiet quitting counterparts, mental health concerns influence many (52%), while less than half name their salary (49%), manager (42%), workplace conditions or atmosphere (38%), or co-workers (36%) as main influences on their work ethic.
Whatever has caused their demotivation, the difference between the workplace philosophies of quiet quitters and other workers has significantly impacted their job security. Within the last year, 69% of quiet quitters received a warning at work compared to only 16% of those who didn't label themselves quiet quitters. And, nearly three-quarters of quiet quitters have been fired in the past year compared to only 16% of other employees.
How Can You Tell If Your Employees Are Quietly Quitting?
The warning and firing rates of quiet quitters illustrate how managers have stood firm against these employees' dwindling attention and work quality. Unfortunately, these high employee turnover rates can put a particularly heavy strain on HR departments. So, how are HR professionals handling this phenomenon?
HR employees are on high alert for quiet quitters, with 42% of those surveyed saying it's a major problem in their workplace. As such, they pointed out some red flags to help you spot the behaviors associated with quiet quitting.
The biggest red flag HR professionals note is constant complaining (44%), closely followed by an unwillingness to do extra work (41%), and regularly missing deadlines (40%). Isolation (35%) and minimal interaction with colleagues (32%) are other red flags.
In short, quiet quitters are impacting more than just their own work — they're affecting the entire workplace. HR professionals say quiet quitting contributes to a work culture lacking in communication and motivation (40%), adherence to company standards (39%), and camaraderie among peers (35%). Quiet quitting also increases gossip, drama, and blame, according to 33% of HR professionals.
Identifying and Remotivating Quiet Quitters
With quiet quitting causing such a disintegration in workplace productivity and morale, HR professionals have come up with ways to stop it in its tracks. What are they doing to get quiet quitters motivated to do their best work, and how are they keeping unmotivated prospects off the payroll from the start?
HR professionals say they ask pointed questions in job interviews to weed out unmotivated candidates. The question most asked by HR during hiring is, "What's something you love about your current or previous role?" Designed to uncover the level of interest someone has in their work, this question can quickly determine if a candidate is motivated by a love for the job or is just looking to fill their nine-to-five.
The third most asked question is, "What are some characteristics of your favorite boss?" In addition to displaying the candidate's level of enthusiasm about their job, this question can also reveal their relationship with a former employer. It might be a red flag if they can't think of anything they love about a former boss (or worse — if all they have are complaints).
Despite an organization's best efforts to keep unmotivated employees off of payroll, it may be inevitable. Even the most highly motivated employees can face burnout and fade into quiet quitting mode. Luckily, HR professionals have developed some strategies for reengaging these employees. The No. 1 strategy HR professionals note is changing an employee's position or responsibilities (60%).
Financial incentives — including raises, bonuses, and benefits — are another commonly used strategy (57%), tackling an issue reported by many quiet quitters: salary. The third most common strategy is to hold a one-on-one meeting with the employee to brainstorm solutions for improving their engagement, together (52%). These meetings can not only make an employee feel valued; it can offer them an opportunity to voice concerns they may not feel confident bringing up on their own, and give them a greater sense of control over their position.
Overcoming Quiet Quitting
The "bare minimum" philosophy of quiet quitters is disrupting the productivity and culture of many businesses. While a legitimate concern for employers and HR professionals, it's also an attempt to achieve work-life balance — an issue present throughout the pandemic that persists for many today. This means it's become more important for the "work" half of that balance to include substantial purpose and reward. For some quiet quitters, that purpose is found when an employer demonstrates a commitment to their mental health and makes the employee feel heard, valued, and in control. For others, the reward is more straightforward: more pay for the work.
To focus more on employees' well-being, employers can offer the option for employees to switch up their job responsibilities, allowing them to work on what interests them so they can stay engaged. HR professionals can help by meeting with and listening to employees, helping them to feel heard and maintain a sense of ownership over their position. And, of course, employers can also make employees feel valued through monetary incentives. Changes like these can combat the troublesome trend of quiet quitting and bring positivity and productivity back to the workplace.
Paychex surveyed 1,042 full-time employees about "quiet quitting," with 204 of those surveyed being HR professionals. As for workplace status, 46% of employees surveyed worked remotely, 30% worked a hybrid schedule, and 24% worked in the office.
Paychex is a leading provider of integrated human capital management solutions for human resources, payroll, benefits, and insurance services. Founded over five decades ago, Paychex simplifies the complex processes of running a business, so you can focus on what matters most.
Fair Use Statement
If you've found our study about quiet quitting interesting and useful, you're welcome to share our data for noncommercial purposes. Please link back to our study so we can get proper credit for our exploration of quiet quitting and its effect on the workplace.
- 78% of women have experienced gender bias or discrimination in the past year.
- 62% of women have reported a male co-worker to HR for harassment.
- 74% of women are afraid of being laid off amid all the tech layoffs.
Understanding the Tech Environment for Women
Although there are many women in the technology industry today, they have been historically underrepresented in the field. In 2018, we analyzed the climate for women in tech to better understand the problems they faced. But how have things changed in the last four years? To find out, we decided to do it again in 2022.
We wanted to know if women still face the same challenges as before, so we dug into their education, current jobs, and reasons for entering their respective tech fields. As the country recovers from the pandemic and faces a potential recession, we also wanted to understand how women were affected by recent layoffs. To do so, surveyed 1,000 American women in the technology industry. Here's what they had to say.
Getting Started in Tech
With so many barriers to entry for women in the technology industry, including a lack of support for women pursuing education in STEM, we first wanted to know what their reasons were for choosing a career in tech.
Despite the stigma women might face for pursuing technology-related careers, an interest in or passion for computers and technology was the top reason survey respondents entered the industry (25%). This finding is similar to the top motivator in our 2018 survey: a love for computers and tech. Almost as many women (23%) said job stability was their main reason for joining the industry in 2022.
Considering tech positions are in high demand, it makes sense that so many women would see the job market as stable. But the benefits and salaries are another matter, with only 5% of women citing competitive pay as the biggest draw for female tech workers. Of course, this varies based on location — for example, 18% of those who named pay as their primary reasoning in 2022 were in New York City. And in 2018, California Bay Area women were three times as likely to cite high pay than those living in other places. The importance of high earnings in areas with high living costs hasn't changed much.
Having a tech-related degree may seem like an obvious motivation to seek a career in tech, but only 11% claimed this as their top reason for working in the industry. While the degrees earned by most women we surveyed (over 60%) were in information technology (IT), many other respondents' tech skills were self-taught. Among them, the most common professional position was data analyst, while for those with a tech degree, it was software developer.
Women's Struggles in the Tech Industry
Although women get into the tech industry for many different reasons, many have something in common: the challenges they experience in the workplace. Next, we asked women about their experiences and feelings about being a woman working in a tech field.
The challenge most commonly faced by women in the tech industry was a lack of promotion, as cited by 43% of respondents. With no way to move up in the ranks, 34% felt like there was also a lack of a growth path for them within their company. Feeling like an outsider was also prevalent, with nearly a third saying they've felt out of place at work.
A few years ago, being underestimated or not taken seriously by peers was the greatest opposition women faced — 67% of respondents reported this in 2018. Although this issue still landed among the top five most common challenges in 2022, there has been a significant decrease: Only 28% of women said their peers underestimated them or didn't take them seriously.
The prevalence of issues like these varied depending on geographic location. In San Francisco, women felt the wage gap more, with 29% of women saying they weren't paid as much as their male co-workers. And at 37% in Los Angeles, women felt the lack of growth opportunities more than those in any other city.
Think our modern era is the picture of gender equality? Think again. More than 1 in 4 of the women we surveyed said they've heard jokes in the office about women doing household chores. And the prejudice wasn't limited to the workplace: 78% reported experiencing gender bias or discrimination in the past year, whether in their personal or work lives.
Gender-based workplace discrimination varied by tech sector. For instance, nearly all women in the marketing technology sector (martech) have experienced gender bias (90%). More than 80% of those working in financial technology, energy, blockchain, and software have as well. The lowest instances of gender discrimination were reported by women in media-related tech jobs, but it was still reported by nearly half (47%).
Coping With and Overcoming Inequalities
As more women enter the tech workforce and are honest about the challenges they face, the more they can work together to overcome discrimination and bias in the workplace. To conclude our survey, we asked women about steps they've taken to protect themselves or their colleagues at work. They also shared their career outlooks.
Many women have had to take action against inappropriate behavior in the workplace: 62% said they reported a male co-worker to HR for harassment and 60% for gender bias. Women seem to be reporting these incidents more frequently now than in 2018 when only 19% of our survey respondents reported co-workers for bias or discrimination, and 21% spoke up about harassment.
The burden of bias against women in the tech industry is heavy enough to make many want to change careers (62%). Many we surveyed were even planning to act on it soon: 57% said they plan to leave the industry in the next six months. This shows an increase from the 2018 average when only 24% of women said they had considered changing fields for this reason.
The threat of layoffs and the anticipation of a recession have compounded these problems for women in tech. Even giant tech company Meta recently let much of their staff go in a push to reduce costs. Nearly three-quarters of our respondents (74%) said they were afraid of being laid off. Many of them already had, with 84% of respondents from New York City saying they had been laid off recently.
But of women who had recently been let go, 96% went on to another tech industry job where they made even more than they had previously: an average increase of $10,660. We saw even bigger increases in some places, especially San Francisco, where they earned over $38K more on average at their new job. Most women said it took between two and five months to find a new job, but it was worth the wait.
Women in the technology industry still face a myriad of challenges in the workplace, from lesser pay to being undervalued and even harassment. But by far, their biggest challenges were a lack of growth potential at their workplaces and worries about potential layoffs. However, fewer cited workplace challenges in 2022 compared to 2018, and they have since been more likely to report co-workers for gender bias, discrimination, or harassment.
Still more, though, are considering leaving it due to gender-based pressures, pointing to a need for further support. Tech companies must do more to bridge these gaps for women in the workplace and give them the same opportunities and respect as their male counterparts.
Paychex surveyed 1,000 American women in the technology sector about their experiences. The average age was 32, and their locations were as follows: 42% lived in New York City, 12% in Los Angeles, 7% in San Francisco, 7% in Chicago, and 32% in other U.S. cities.
Paychex provides payroll, human resources, and benefits outsourcing services for small to medium-sized businesses. Our tools make hiring, managing, and retaining employees easy.
Fair Use Statement
If you enjoyed our findings, feel free to share them for noncommercial purposes. Please be sure to link back to our original article as a credit to our Paychex research team.
Attracting and Retaining Talent: 4 Ways to Set Your Company Apart
6 min. Read
Is your business at risk of losing good people? Or are you struggling to attract the talent you need to hire to fill current and future business needs? As a business leader or HR professional, you know turnover can be expensive, time-consuming, and stressful. And the process of attracting and retaining top talent can take your focus away from managing your day-to-day business, ultimately resulting in lost productivity and revenue.
In our experience, having competitive compensation benefits and a robust total reward offering will set your company apart from the competition and enable you to be able to attract and retain a top-quality workforce. This presentation will share four ways to set your company apart when attracting and retaining employees. We will review why employees are considering leaving their current companies and what employers should consider as they look to retain and attract quality talent in today’s competitive work environment.