Whatever the reason, the current combination of remote work and the tight labour market have made coasting easier than ever before. “It’ll be harder to know what people are doing when they’re working from home,” says Bolino. “And the hiring crisis means organisations may find it tough to replace an employee who is coasting with someone else at the same cost.”
Edward believes his lack of effort has, so far, gone unnoticed. “In sales, it’s quite hard to tell how much work someone is putting in, so I’m kind of just riding off the work I put in previously,” he says. “Who knows if anyone is paying enough attention to realise I haven’t brought in anything new in for a while? My boss hasn’t even got ‘round to setting me targets.”
Addressing the coasting problem
While coasting can easily be dismissed as employee laziness, it often arises out of deeper underlying issues at a company: from a missed promotion, to feeling their contribution isn’t being met with adequate reward.
For example, Edward began coasting after feeling undermined by his boss. “A project I was managing was scrapped without warning,” he explains. “It was something I was proud to work on – it felt like a great career opportunity. I tried to keep my motivation up, but it made me think what I was doing was pointless and a waste of time. I’d say half of the team were already slacking, so I decided to join the gang.”
While engaged employees are highly enthusiastic about their work, and disengaged workers actively pull against their organisation, coasters lie somewhere in between. “Not engaged employees [like coasters] are psychologically unattached to their work and company,” explains Ben Wigert, director of research and strategy for workplace management at Gallup, based in Nebraska, US. “Because their engagement needs are not being fully met, they put their time, but not energy or passion, into their work.”