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How ‘Quiet Quitting’ Showed Up in Employee Surveys Last Year

Employees told their employers they were less motivated and less inspired to do more than was asked of them last year, according to new proprietary data from Qualtrics

Confidence in senior leadership has declined since the pandemic, and employees said they lack concrete actions to advance their careers

Last updated:  August 10, 2023

PROVO, Utah & SEATTLE, August 10, 2023 – A declining share of employees said they were motivated to go above and beyond at work, or were inspired to do their best work, according to the latest employee engagement benchmark data from Qualtrics.

The new proprietary data – aggregated from thousands of global engagement surveys administered in 2022 – shows symptoms of burnout and a significant drop in confidence in leaders from 2020, when the pandemic upended workplaces around the world.

Even in the midst of a softening global economy and tightening job market, employees were willing to tell their employers that they were struggling, and if something doesn’t change, they may look for a new job. Labor productivity also reflected this drop in motivation, with business productivity in 2022 seeing one of the biggest declines in decades, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“This is an example of where the data backs up the zeitgeist and buzzwords like ‘quiet quitting’ – employees are struggling and looking for ways to improve their relationship with work,” said Sarah Marrs, Director of Employee Experience Strategy Execution at Qualtrics. “As leaders focus on productivity, listening to employees can help create a better workplace experience with employees that are both productive and engaged.”

The findings come from new proprietary benchmark data from Qualtrics, representing 19 million employee responses to their companies’ employee experience surveys. The responses span 865 companies, including companies among the Fortune 500 and FTSE 100, and offer a unique look at what employees are reporting to company leaders around the world about their engagement and experiences with work.

“The Qualtrics EX benchmarks help our CHRO communicate results with context to the rest of the C-suite and board of directors. Knowing the industry standard drives prioritization and gap closure goals,” said Aaron Jones, Learning & Organizational Effectiveness Consultant at Parker Hannifin.

Employees saw a significant drop-off in motivation in Germany, while employees in the United States and Australia are among the most motivated and saw small declines in motivation.

Employees who said their company motivates them to contribute more than is normally required to complete their work

After increased efforts during the pandemic, employees were less willing to put in extra effort at work

In the early days of the pandemic, the world saw people band together to support each other, including among employees. The share of global employees who said they were willing to put in extra effort beyond what’s expected of them jumped from 77% in 2019 to 89% in 2020. Since then though, that percentage has declined and is now just below that pre-pandemic level.

Workers are also signaling a change in their overall relationship with work compared with pre-pandemic norms – 71% of workers said their organization inspired them to do their best work in 2022, down from 75% in 2019.

“Employees are pulling back as they’re not seeing rewards from their efforts,” said Marrs. “Of course, in a tighter economy, pay is a top factor in what people are looking for from a job, but employers should never underestimate the power of fulfilling work as its own reward.”

Employees may be looking for a new job to counter symptoms of burnout

The share of employees planning to stay with their current company for three or more years fell to 68%, five percentage points lower than in 2020. This may be an attempt to relieve symptoms of burnout; Qualtrics research has found that 57% of job seekers believe a new job will help them feel less burned out.

Employees may also be more inclined to find a new job instead of waiting for things to change as their confidence in senior leadership to make the right decisions for the company has declined. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of employees had confidence in senior management in 2020, but this has since fallen to 70%.

Employees are missing specific steps to grow their careers

Growth and development is a key driver of employee engagement, and about three-quarters of global employees said they have good opportunities to learn and develop at their companies.

However, just 61% of employees said they have a clear understanding of what steps to take to build their careers, a gap that could impact long-term employee engagement. This could be due to a simple lack of awareness, which was the most common reason career resources weren’t used, according to a joint study from Qualtrics and Charter. Clearly defined career development paths can be hugely beneficial for organizations, retaining institutional knowledge from top performers and avoiding the time and expense of finding and onboarding new employees.

“Specific steps or benchmarks required to advance a career give employees concrete guidelines to measure themselves against and goals to set,” said Marrs. “If employees aren’t sure what it really takes to reach the next level, they may look for other opportunities with a clearer path to success.”

Qualtrics EX Benchmarks provide context to drive decision making

This report was powered by Qualtrics Employee Experience Benchmarks, the most comprehensive benchmarks available, with global coverage including companies among the Fortune 500 and FTSE 100. The benchmarks represent 49 industries, 48 countries and 14 regions. The data are based on scientifically validated questions that measure engagement, DEI and well-being among employees.

The latest benchmarks release contains data from 2020 through 2022, enhancing an already robust dataset by increasing the number of respondents from 12 million to 19 million.

About Qualtrics
Qualtrics, the leader and creator of the experience management category, is a cloud-native software provider that helps organizations quickly identify and resolve points of friction across all digital and human touchpoints in their business – so they can retain their best customers and employees, protect their revenue, and drive profitability. More than 18,750 organizations around the world use Qualtrics’ advanced AI to listen, understand, and take action. Qualtrics uses its vast universe of experience data to form the largest database of human sentiment in the world. Qualtrics is co-headquartered in Provo, Utah and Seattle, and operates out of 28 offices globally. To learn more, please visit