Productivity could stagnate: 40% of young Irish workers vow to ‘act their wage’ and do ‘bare minimum’

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Almost half of Irish workers under the age of 30 years have stated that they only intend to do the ‘bare minimum’ of their job description if their pay or progression remains unchanged – according to a new poll from recruiter Robert Walters. The new phenomenon – termed ‘quiet quitting’ – is seeing young professionals performing just the basics of their job role, ensuring that they bring no further initiative or betterment to the position. 

Commenting on the situation Suzanne Feeney, Country Manager at Robert Walters Ireland (pictured) said: “This behaviour isn’t something entirely new – there have always been less motivated individuals in the workplace. However, the real concern here is that unlike those few workers who tend to consciously be less productive at work – ‘quiet quitting’ is often a subconscious act borne out of frustrations toward the workplace. It is easy for managers to pull their employees up on lack of productivity, but unless they get to the bottom of the ‘why’ their motivation has dropped, then quiet quitting could well become a silent movement that has a damaging effect on businesses productivity and profitability.”

Young Workers ‘Acting their Wage’

According to Robert Walters, the leading reason for workers under the age of 30yrs choosing to ‘quit quietly’ is pay. As of October 1 energy prices across Ireland are set to soar – with some providers announcing increases of almost +50%. Companies including Electric Ireland, Prepay Power and Community Power have warned customers of increases on gas and electricity prices. Along with the 8.7% rate of inflation, the incurring rises dwarf the current 5.3% average salary increase across the country – which has increased more than 2% since 2021.

The inability for wages to match cost of living is creating a culture of younger workers ‘acting their wage’ – younger workers suddenly feel heavily underpaid for their role due to rising costs and inflation and some are therefore refusing to do more outside the parameters of their job description. 

“In all cases of economic hardship it is young workers who are on lower salaries who feel the financial burden more. Their lack of experience – exasperated further by the pandemic – puts them in a much weaker position than their older, more experienced counterparts when trying to bargain for higher pay. 

“Employers will be unable to increase pay at the same rate of inflation – that’s a fact, so this is where softer perks and benefits really do have a chance to make a difference. Increasingly we are seeing utility vouchers, travel cards, and streaming subscriptions all being offered to prospective employees,” Suzanne added. 

Remote Working a Breeding Ground for Quiet Quitters

When surveying managers, more than half feel that they are taking on more workload due to a dip in productivity from younger workers. 

According to the poll, 37% of managers state that hybrid and remote working makes it difficult to measure the output of their team – with a further 25% stating that the flexibility to choose differing work patterns and hours means that there is no universal indictor for productivity, making it easier for ‘quiet quitters’ to go under the radar.

“Quiet quitting creates a real imbalance in the team – where engaged workers will find that they are having to pick up the slack or deal with the lack of output from their disengaged colleagues. This in turn will either burnout or frustrate those workers who are going above and beyond to deliver a high output. Business leaders can’t allow ‘quiet quitting’ to become a norm – accountability is a central part of this. If ‘quiet quitters’ are benefitting from being ‘out of sight, out of mind’ then employers should not hesitate to make more office facetime mandatory. As much as we learnt new ways of working in the pandemic, we also had some great working habits before Covid. These more traditional structures and systems should not be overlooked,” she concluded.