US productivity is stalling out and employees are less willing to ‘engage in hustle culture,' as 1 in 5 Americans admit to doing the 'bare minimum’ at work

US productivity is stalling out and employees are less willing to ‘engage in hustle culture,' as 1 in 5 Americans admit to doing the 'bare minimum’ at work
US productivity is stalling out and employees are less willing to ‘engage in hustle culture,' as 1 in 5 Americans admit to doing the 'bare minimum’ at work

There’s no doubt employees across the country have been pulling back at work.

Labor productivity slowed in 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The government agency comes up with this measurement by taking output per hour and dividing that number by an index of all the workers — paid and unpaid.

While this measurement increased a modest 0.8% in the third quarter of 2022, it's not enough to make up for what was lost in the first half of the year. After a 7.4% decline in Q1, productivity in the second quarter dropped another 4.1%, says the BLS.

It was yet another blow for employers struggling to keep employees engaged. First, there was the “great resignation.” And now there's quiet quitting.


Quiet quitting, a workplace trend that's been sweeping the nation, isn’t necessarily about leaving your job. Instead, it refers to simply doing the bare minimum. The term went viral on social media last year — particularly on TikTok.

But will this trend continue in 2023?

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The trend took off in 2022

Quiet quitting is in stark contrast to hustle culture — the “go-getter” mentality that promotes consistently overperforming and exceeding expectations.

Although quiet quitting is a relatively new term, a large number of workers are doing it already.

According to an August survey of 1,000 working Americans, 21% of respondents say they only do the bare minimum. Another 5% say they do even less than what they’re paid to do.

And even if they’re not doing the bare minimum, people are definitely pulling back. One-third of the survey’s respondents say they’ve reduced their weekly work hours by more than 50%.

Advocates say

For Zaid Khan, the 24-year-old software developer and musician behind a popular TikTok video on the subject, it’s a matter of putting himself first — not his employer.

“Overworking only gets you so far in corporate America,” he says in an interview reported on by Bloomberg. “And like a lot of us have experienced in the past few years, mental and physical health really takes a backseat to productivity in a lot of these structured corporate environments.”

In the ResumeBuilder survey, 83% of respondents who do the bare minimum say they're “definitely” or “somewhat burned out.”

Read more: Here's the average salary each generation says they need to feel 'financially healthy.' Gen Z requires a whopping $171K/year — but how do your own expectations compare?

Finding a balance between work and life is another big reason for the rise of quiet quitting.

“Some employees no longer feel connected to their work or workplace and have a much stronger desire to focus their attention on their families and personal lives,” says career strategist and coach Stacie Haller. “With this shift in priorities, you see less willingness to engage in ‘hustle culture.’”

And the feeling of being disconnected doesn't end there. A December survey from employee event planning company Offsyte showed that over a third of workers surveyed said they felt disconnected from their coworkers. And 42% of employees said they feel like their manager doesn’t listen to their concerns.

The survey shows that possible lay-offs and a lack of communication and transparency from their bosses were at the top of that list of concerns going into 2023.

Critics say

Of course, there are several obvious downsides to the quiet quitting trend.

While acknowledging that people unhappy with their current job situation probably don’t want to go above and beyond at work, Haller says that quiet quitting “isn’t productive.”

“It would be better for disenchanted employees to speak with their managers about how to improve their current situation or to work with a job search coach to start looking for a more exciting opportunity,” she suggests.

And a fair percentage of employees do have aspirations of focusing on career growth and climbing the ladder this year. About 34% of respondents in the Offsyte survey said they want to take on more responsibilities at their current employer and 31% said they want to learn new skill sets in 2023. The survey’s respondents also offered their employers some opportunities to reel them back in: Almost half of employees said they want their employer to improve employee well-being through things like mental health programs. And 38% of employees want employers to focus on team-building activities to improve collaboration.

So only time will tell if the trend of quiet quitting is here to stay or will fade away — quietly.

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This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.