You will probably have heard of the Great Resignation.  You may even have heard of the Great Regret. This post is about what we think may just be the next COVID employment phenomenon: Coasting

Coasting is where an employee, rather than simply quit (as per the Great Resignation), simply drops back a few gears.  Coasting is where they do enough just to get by and no more. In other words, it's going through the motions and doing the bare minimum.

As an observation, Coasting has been getting traction these last few months as is increasingly being born out in surveys.  As an example , Gallup did one in January 2022  of 11,000 US workers and they found half of the employees surveyed said; they were neither engaged or were disengaged at work.  With some 39% identifying themselves as "coasting".

What seems to be happening is that some employees rather than quit and go elsewhere ,have realised they can just get by.  This seems to be especially so for those who have been able to work from home during COVID, where it is harder to know what they are doing with their time.  What seems to be happening is that rather than move on, they have worked out that they can slack off and still get paid.  It seems that the generally tight labour markets  and working from home has made it much easier to "coast" than the days before COVID.

The personal cost

An issue that has been noticed, is that coasting can have a personal cost on the employee themselves.  XpertHR in the UK put it this way. “Various pandemic restrictions have placed pressure on many people’s mental health... That can have an impact upon their work lives. Many people who coast will be unaware of any negative changes in their behaviour or performance at work.” 

Studies and observations also point to underlying deeper issues that can result in coasting.  It is not just laziness that is going on - at least for some.  Employees can become demotivated for a number of reasons; missed promotions, awkward relationship with their manager or simply feeling that their contribution is not valued anymore.  The change is that now it has become much easier for many of them to slack off.

Studies show that feeling valued at work is linked to employee wellbeing and performance. We suggest employers who do a good job of engaging with staff, especially those working from home and putting more emphasis on valuing their contribution and inputs will not see coasting problems.  However, with many employers and managers till struggling with both a tight labour market and much more working from home. We think this will be an issue that  will become a big problem for some.