Quiet Constraint – The New Workplace Villain

from Kahoot!

The 2022 Workplace Culture Report recently released by Kahoot!, the global learning and engagement platform company, reveals that “quiet constraint” is Corporate America’s current hidden threat at work. According to the data from a new third-party survey of U.S. enterprise workers, more than half (58%) employees say they hold in valuable knowledge they could share with their colleagues. The Gen Z generation exhibited this behavior more than any other generation, with 77% of Gen Z-ers reporting that they silently sit on beneficial information in the workplace.

“This data is a big wake-up call for employers, particularly those with hybrid or fully distributed work models,” says James Micklethwait, a vice president with Kahoot! at Work. “For the first time, we have an insight into what people are really doing when they switch their video off and ‘zone out’ of those virtual meetings which they don’t feel are worth their attention. But what really surprised us from this research was just how much valuable knowledge workers believe sits with them but is not currently being shared. It’s clear that employers need to step up and both create a culture which encourages knowledge sharing and provides engaging ways to do so.”

Despite the buzz on quiet quitting — the practice of reducing one’s effort and engagement at work to a bare minimum — the survey revealed that 76% of workers want to go the extra mile for their employer at work. However, the survey identified there may be a new phenomenon called “quiet constraint” emerging in workplaces. According to the survey, more than half (58%) of workers hold valuable knowledge that could benefit or help their co-workers that they haven’t yet shared. 

More men (63%) say that they hold in information at work vs women (57%) and are more likely to do it often (27% vs. 16%). When asked why workers were holding in information, 26% said they were never asked and 23% said their employer doesn’t provide them a channel or means to do so. In addition, 26% said they feel like their talent and self-expression is stifled at work. More than three-quarters of employees said they would value an engaging way to share knowledge.

While some employers may see quiet constraint as cause for concern, the data shows that many companies’ teams are, in fact, richer in knowledge than they realized, and that most employees are eager to share this knowledge if given the opportunity and resources.  

Many Companies Still Not Optimizing Meetings and Employee Training for Virtual and Hybrid Experiences

According to the data, 87% of workers feel bored at work, primarily due to online employee training and virtual team meetings. The survey revealed that 35% of workers said they mentally check out of online employee training, while 32% check out of virtual presentations and 31% check out of virtual team meetings.

Boredom led workers to engage in other work tasks during online meetings. 

Reading and responding to email 45%
Working on side hustle businesses 18% 
Younger workers (millennials and Gen Z) even double-dipped and attended two meetings simultaneously 11%

Some workers skipped work altogether. 

  • Twenty-three percent of women doodled. 
  • Twenty-one percent of men exercised. 
  • Almost a quarter of respondents (23%) played with their pets.
  • Twenty percent 20% napped. 

This shows that despite most companies now having years of experience hosting virtual meetings, training sessions and events, many have not yet optimized their team collaboration, communication and training for a virtual context.

Employees Are Willing to Pay Out of Pocket for More Engagement

  • While 71% of employees are extremely or very interested in their work, 47% would give up some of their wages to be more engaged.
  • In fact, 35% of hybrid workers would give up more than 10% of their pay for a little more excitement and interaction in their day.

Willing to forego a percentage of their salary:

Gen Z 68%
Boomer 32%
Gen X 41%
Millennial  56%

Clearly, this is a signal for employers and HR teams to examine critical stimulus factors and strategies to increase participation and connection with Gen Zs. Calibrating boredom, defined as a “wandering mind” state of distraction and uncertainty, was the most prominent form of boredom among Gen Z.

Friendly Competition Is the Answer to Re-Engagement: Generation Z Says, “Yes Please!”

Among all generations, Gen Z is the most disengaged. 

Workers mentally check out of virtual meetings because they feel completely disconnected from their co-workers. 29% 
Workers tune out because they are spoken to vs actively participating. 31%
Workers feel meeting is too long. 51%
Level of engagement depends on the time of day. 33%

When asked what would help them get engaged, the top three responses were:

A little dose of friendly competition could be an effective remedy.  59% 
Brainstorming with co-workers would help them become more present and engaged. 51%
More rich and interactive media would help.  38%

Source: Kahoot

About the Kahoot! 2022 Workplace Culture Report 

This survey was conducted online within the United States by market-research consultancy Researchscape on behalf of Kahoot! from August 18 to September 12, 2022. The results in this report are from an online survey of U.S. workers employed in firms with 250+ employees; 1,635 responses were collected.

Kahoot!’s vision is to build the leading learning platform in the world, with a learning platform that makes it easy for any individual or corporation to create, share, and host learning sessions that drive compelling engagement. Since launch in 2013, Kahoot! has hosted hundreds of millions of learning sessions with 8 billion participants (non-unique) in more than 200 countries and regions. The Kahoot! Group includes Clever, the leading US K-12 EdTech learning platform, together with the learning apps DragonBox, Poio, Drops, Actimo, Motimate and Whiteboard.fi.

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