A recent study investigating a possible link between ‘quiet quitting’ and the use of psychedelic mushrooms has produced data that suggests workers become less productive due to the use of psilocybin.
The study, published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs by Benjamin A. Korman, a scientist from the University of Konstanz in Germany, aimed to understand the impact of the increased use of classic psychedelics in the United States on both employees and the companies they work for, specifically around the concept of ‘quiet quitting’.
The phrase “quiet quitting’ refers to a phenomenon in which people at work do the bare minimum in their roles, they fulfil the requirements of the job but put more emphasis on their life outside of work.
“Numerous scientific studies have demonstrated that psychedelic drug use is rising in the United States while several media reports have suggested increased use among employees. Because of this, I’m motivated to better understand how psychedelic drug use affects organizations and the workforce more generally,” Korman told PsyPost.
To investigate the possible link, Korman compared data from over 217,000 respondents to a national survey on drug use, and collated those findings to the number of overtime hours worked.
After adjusting the results for covariates including age, sex, level of education, marital status, annual household income, self-reported engagement in risky behaviour, and lifetime use of various other substances, Korman found that there was a correlation between the use of psychedelic mushrooms and a fall in overtime hours worked.
The fall in overtime hours worked was very small, when calculated for individual workers it amounted to 3.6 minutes less overtime per week. However, when that figure is adjusted to the estimated 15 million full-time workers who have used psychedelic mushrooms it balloons to 44 million less overtime hours worked per year.
“I was surprised to find that psilocybin, but not other classic psychedelics (LSD or mescaline), was linked to employees’ overtime hours worked,” Korman said.
The study has limitations, and one must be careful before drawing conclusions from the results. This is in part due to the data used being incomplete as employment information was not recorded from 2015 onwards. This could be problematic as the results do not take into account the recent rise in the use of psychedelics, as well as the changing political attitudes towards them.
Korman writes, “One major caveat of the study is the correlational nature of its findings. This means that we cannot know whether employees’ use of psilocybin leads to their reduced overtime hours worked. Furthermore, the psychological mechanism linking psilocybin use to employees’ overtime hours worked was not studied. The theoretical reasons why psilocybin use may be linked to employees’ overtime hours worked remains, therefore, untested.
Although the study has its weaknesses, it will hopefully encourage other researchers to consider the unique influences that psychedelic drug use in the workforce may have on organisations. More refined studies could look at whether the amount of psilocybin use, or the purpose of its use (e.g., recreational vs. medical), has differential effects on work-relevant outcomes.”