“We have suddenly started to use new buzzwords for phenomena that had actually been around for decades,” Detert said. “There was the ‘Great Resignation’ and now ‘quiet quitting.’”
The Great Resignation, dubbed this way to reflect the reckoning in the American workforce caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, is connected, Detert said, to quiet quitting, a term to characterize disengaged workers who tackle only the minimum requirements to complete their jobs.
“Quiet quitting” was named the phrase of the year in 2022 by The Morning Brew, a daily newsletter designed for young business professionals. But, Detert said, “We’ve had terrible employee engagement in this country for a long time, well before Gallup started its annual reporting in 2000. For more than 50 years, organizational scholars have been documenting why employees are disengaged, why employees have low job satisfaction, why they ‘quit on the job,’ and why they actually do quit.”
Gallup’s most recent survey sampled roughly 67,000 people and found that only 32% of employees reported feeling engaged with their work in 2022, down from 36% in 2020.
Detert says one way to improve the trend is to call “quiet quitting” what it often is – “calibrated contributing.”
UVA Today caught up with Detert, an expert in leadership and organizational behavior and the author of “Choosing Courage: The Everyday Guide to Being Brave at Work,” to learn more about his view.