Recent proprietary data from Qualtrics sheds light on a concerning trend known as ‘quiet quitting’, with employees expressing decreased motivation and inspiration to exceed expectations at work.
The data, gathered from thousands of worldwide engagement surveys conducted in 2022, highlights the impact of pandemic-induced changes on workplace dynamics.
Confidence in senior leadership has also suffered a blow since the outbreak of the pandemic, and workers are reporting a lack of clear career advancement strategies.
The decline in employee motivation, as indicated by the data, signifies a potential crisis in employee engagement and satisfaction.
This newly released proprietary information provides insights into the aftermath of the global pandemic on workplaces, underscoring the need for employers to address these issues to retain a motivated and productive workforce.
The collected proprietary data, extracted from 2022’s global engagement surveys, unveils alarming signs of burnout and a noteworthy decrease in confidence in leadership since 2020. As economies softened and job markets tightened, employees openly expressed their struggles and concerns, signalling a significant phenomenon known as ‘quiet quitting’. This trend is evidenced by a drop in labour productivity, with 2022 witnessing one of the largest productivity declines in decades, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Sarah Marrs, Director of Employee Experience Strategy Execution at Qualtrics, commented on the findings:
“This data solidifies the existence of ‘quiet quitting’ and highlights the challenges employees face in improving their relationship with work. As leaders focus on productivity, understanding employee sentiment can foster a more conducive work environment that promotes both productivity and engagement.”
The data stems from a proprietary benchmark report by Qualtrics, encompassing 19 million employee responses from a variety of industries, including Fortune 500 and FTSE 100 companies. This extensive dataset provides a unique perspective on employee engagement, revealing their sentiments and experiences across different global companies.
Aaron Jones, Learning & Organisational Effectiveness Consultant at Parker Hannifin, shared the benefits of Qualtrics’ Employee Experience benchmarks:
“The Qualtrics EX benchmarks empower our CHRO to communicate results effectively to the C-suite and board of directors. Aligning with industry standards facilitates prioritisation and the closure of existing gaps.”
The survey results reveal significant variations in motivation among different countries. While employees in the United States and Australia experienced only marginal decreases in motivation, Germany observed a substantial 12 percent drop in employee motivation since 2020.
The pandemic initially sparked a surge in employee dedication, with a global increase in individuals willing to exceed work expectations, jumping from 77 percent in 2019 to 89 percent in 2020. However, this motivation has dwindled since then, returning to slightly below pre-pandemic levels.
Additionally, the survey highlighted shifts in the overall work dynamic. In 2022, 71 percent of workers felt inspired by their organisation to deliver their best work, down from 75 percent in 2019. Marrs attributed this shift to employees seeking more substantial rewards for their efforts, emphasising the importance of meaningful work in fostering engagement.
Retention is a big issue
Another concerning trend emerged: a decline in employees’ willingness to remain with their current companies for extended periods. The percentage of employees planning to stay for three or more years decreased by 5 percent since 2020, possibly linked to combating burnout. Qualtrics research indicated that 57 percent of job seekers believe switching jobs could alleviate burnout symptoms.
Notably, employee confidence in senior leadership’s decision-making capabilities has also declined. The percentage of employees expressing confidence in senior management dropped from 73 percent in 2020 to 70 percent.
Growth and development play a pivotal role in employee engagement. While approximately 75 percent of employees reported good learning and development opportunities within their companies, only 61 percent claimed to have a clear understanding of career advancement steps. This disparity could negatively affect long-term engagement, often arising from a lack of awareness regarding career resources.
What can be done to turn this trend around?
To counter these challenges, Marrs emphasised the significance of well-defined career paths: “Concrete steps and benchmarks for career progression provide employees with clear measures and goals. Clarity regarding the path to success can discourage them from seeking opportunities elsewhere.”
The comprehensive data is fuelled by Qualtrics Employee Experience Benchmarks, a global benchmark covering a range of industries, countries, and regions, including Fortune 500 and FTSE 100 companies. The latest release expands upon an already substantial dataset, incorporating responses from 19 million employees across industries and geographies, from 2020 to 2022. The scientifically validated questions employed in the survey assess employee engagement, diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as well-being.
The Qualtrics survey results underscore the urgency for organisations to address waning employee motivation and engagement in a post-pandemic landscape. With the workplace dynamic evolving rapidly, adapting strategies to maintain a motivated and fulfilled workforce remains imperative.
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.