The job market is hot right now, or at least it was in July based on numbers from the U.S. Department of Labor. Employees remain in demand, and some might argue it’s an employee’s market, where employees have a greater chance to flex their muscles and gain more control over their work situation.

That seems to be true for a percentage of the population who are willingly participating in “quiet quitting.” A new trend that’s going viral on TikTok, quiet quitting largely refers to employees who aren’t quitting their jobs, but rather refusing to go above and beyond at work. That could be for a number of reasons, such as wanting to achieve a better work/life balance, spend more time doing things outside of work, and/or push back against an overwhelming workload.

According to recent CivicScience survey data, a little over half of employed U.S. adults have heard of the term “quiet quitting.” Just around 1-in-10 adults are actively doing this at their jobs and an additional 6% say they plan to start.

Half of the employed population remains unaware of the trend, posing the question of whether or not more Americans will adopt the idea as it spreads across the internet. What are the motivators leading people to pull back from work? Who is more likely to do so?

Looking at workload and job responsibilities, additional survey findings show the majority of employed Americans feel comfortable with responsibilities at work or eager to take on more. 

One-in-four U.S. workers from the above survey express they feel overwhelmed or burned out. In broader context, a separate survey looking exclusively at job burnout finds that three-quarters of U.S. adults say they have experienced burnout at some point in their careers or currently feel they’re getting burned out at work. The numbers echo results from 2018 – burnout continues to be an issue in the U.S.

When it comes to quiet quitting, the trend is at least driven in part by burnout and job stress. Nearly half of people who plan to pull back at their jobs feel overwhelmed and/or burned out presently; those have already done so are less likely to feel that way, suggesting maybe they’ve managed to achieve a better work/life balance.

General job unhappiness and dissatisfaction are also underlying issues. Today, 32% of employed adults feel generally unhappy in their jobs and 25% feel unfulfilled.

More than half of people who have been quiet quitting or want to are unhappy in their jobs. Those who don’t plan to ‘quiet quit’ or who have never heard of the term are far more likely to report they feel at least somewhat happy in their jobs.

Results suggest workload overload and burnout, job unhappiness, and lack of job fulfillment are conditions that apply to one-quarter to one-third of the working Gen Pop. If these factors are major indicators that someone may drastically alter their alter their work performance and adopt quiet quitting, the survey results suggest that there may still be room for the trend to grow.

Quiet Quitting Trending Among Remote Workers

Demographics also appear to play a role in quiet quitting, particularly work situation and age.

Current CivicScience data show that nearly one-third of U.S. employed adults are working remotely, split evenly between fully remote workers and hybrid workers. The remaining two-thirds of the workforce are working in person at a location.

People working fully remotely report greater levels of work-related distress. Remote workers continue to report higher levels of of job unhappiness compared to other workers. Plus, fully remote workers are the least comfortable with their workload and are the most likely to feel overwhelmed and/or burned out.

Remote workers are also more likely to say they are engaging in quiet quitting or plan to – more than one-quarter of both fully remote and hybrid workers, compared to 16% of on-site workers. This could be due in part to a greater work/life imbalance, where the lines between work and everything else become easily blurred, leading to greater overall job dissatisfaction.

It could also be related to age, given that remote workers tend to index younger and quiet quitting is much more popular among younger workers (who are also more avid TikTok users).

Is “quiet quitting” a passing trend trailing COVID’s workforce shakeup, similar to Reddit’s “anti-work” subreddit? Or is it one that is poised to change the dynamics of employer/employee relationships going forward, particularly for remote workers? CivicScience will continue to report.