I don’t know who needs to hear this, but quiet quitting is an EMPLOYER issue not an employee issue.
They really did that. They really made it an employee problem. I really do love the creativity of flipping the onus back on the employee. This is not new, though. It’s actually quite typical.
Let’s rewind for a minute. You might be wondering what quiet quitting is. Let’s dig in.
- What is Quiet Quitting
- Why Are People Quiet Quitting
- Employee Engagement
- Current Work Norms Aren’t Working
What Is Quiet Quitting
First thing’s first. What even is quiet quitting? I’m glad you asked.
My definition of quiet quitting: “Quiet quitting” is people shamelessly setting boundaries and not doing more work above their compensation level… which is GENIUS.
It’s been defined in other sources as: “Doing only your assigned tasks” (KilPatrick, NPR, 2022). Whatever could be wrong with that? Just doing your job. How could that create such an uproar? Only in America, folks. Only in America.
More examples of quiet quitting include: “Closing your laptop at 5 p.m… Spending more time with family” (KilPatrick, NPR, 2022). The definition of quiet quitting is almost laughable and why people are so upset about it. Almost.
“Some experts say it’s a misnomer and should really be defined as carving out time to take care of yourself” (KilPatrick, NPR, 2022).
With burnout at epic levels, this should be the accepted norm, not the hottest discussion for debate. But discussion sparks change & here we are.
It’s Not Quitting
But let’s get one thing straight – It’s not quitting. It’s just not buying into the corporate hype and “drinking the kool aid” of hard work pays off.
Yeah, MY hard work probably does pay off for CEO John & Manager Joe. But… most likely not for me. At least not the way it will pay off for them. Sigh.
Another viewpoint on quiet quitting is that “the term stems from companies exploiting their employees’ labor and how these businesses benefit from a culture of overwork without additional compensation” (Zidtron, KilPatrick, NPR, 2022). That does not sound wrong…
I mean the solution is really not that hard. “If you want people to go ‘above and beyond,’ compensate them for it” (Zidtron & KilPatrick, NPR, 2022). How this is a revolutionary idea, I am still unsure, but it really, really is. Sadly.
Why is it always: work above your pay level and then *maybe* be promoted / compensated later on… And not: PAY ME for my skills and THEN I’ll do the work at that compensation level…?
Things need to change. Like, yesterday.
Why Are People Quiet Quitting
Quiet quitters = Epic. Overdue. Necessary. Everyone speaking out about quiet quitting, take a moment to listen
A few quick reminders to set the stage:
- Company profits are the highest in 70 years (Gibson, 2022).
- CEOs make 320-370 x that of their employees (Ariely, 2008; Mishel & Kandra, 2020).
- Corporate taxes of highest earning companies are at all time low (Center For American Progress, 2022).
- Employee wages are extremely low in comparison with these gains and have not kept up with inflation in the past 50 years (Center For American Progress, 2022).
Does more need to be said?
I hear the advice telling employees not to quiet quit because it’ll be detrimental to their career.
I hear it and it’s untrue in too many cases. Look at the statistics. The same people are gaining multiple times over while employees are fighting against a culture of stagnant wages & a few of more days off.
For too many, hard work does not equate to moving up the ladder.
What About Employee Engagement?
Furthermore, what about engaging work? Why do companies have no incentive whatsoever to engage their workforce? For decades…
It’s not too hard to understand that: “If you want your teams to be engaged in their work, you have to make their work engaging” (McGregor & Doshi, 2020). And companies are falling short. So short.
Cue the Great Resignation. Was anyone surprised? A lot of companies (& the heads of said companies) were. But anyone in the workforce was really just… not.
Obviously there is going to be a huge reckoning when advancements are moving at lightning speed but we are still stuck in the industrial revolution version of the workforce.
“The key is resisting the temptation to make work tactical only through strict processes, rules, and procedures. While some degree of boundaries and guidelines help people move quickly, too many create a vicious spiral of demotivation. In such cases, people tend to stop problem-solving and thinking creatively, and instead, do the bare minimum.
If you want your teams to be engaged in their work, you have to make their work engaging” (McGregor & Doshi, 2020).
It is not surprising that this has become the norm. When too many go to work, they’re painfully unengaged.
Current Work Norms Aren’t Working
Think about current (outdated) work norms. We are living in industrial revolution work worlds when we are lightyears beyond that.
Read 5 Questions I Have For People Who Support 8 Hour Work Days… First Question: Are You OK? for more on that topic.
The 8 hour work day & 5 day work week is painfully outdated. Humans don’t even function well at those amounts of consecutive work. Companies could be gaining more if they loosen their prehistoric policies of rigid work weeks.
Read Negotiate For Less for information about negotiating for fewer days, hours & unproductive limits.
And the counterargument to quiet quitting is that millennials, Gen Z & anyone else who speaks up is “entitled” & “ungrateful” & doesn’t know what hard work “really” is. Unfortunately many also own & run companies. Cue a national disaster of a workforce.
As well as the narrative of blame being put on the employees.
Quiet Quitting Not On Employees
But quiet quitting is not on employees. Employers need to keep their workforce engaged & they’ve gotten decades of free passes of being terrible at *their* jobs.
If someone is saying that quiet quitting is the fault of employees, that employees are entitled or ungrateful (please see stats above) &:
- That excuse is getting old
- You’re not LISTENING
When the current workforce was younger, they were told time & time again they could BE anything they wanted & to go & change the world & “follow your passions” and were then given… offices? And unengaging work? And stagnant salaries & unmoving minimum wage? And we’re not being grateful enough?
Quiet quitting is an action.
Acting your wage is a response.
The Great Resignation is a reaction after years of buildup.
The current generations are here to change the world.
And that doesn’t include working a 9-5 in a stuffy office with outdated systems, work weeks, mindsets, policies, protocols & pay.
The tide is turning 🌊
Age of the Employee
We are in the age of the employee. Let it have profound impacts.
Share Your Quiet Quitting Thoughts
What do you think about quiet quitting? Perspectives so far have been on the extremes, but that makes for good discussion. After all, an open mind and hearing different perspectives leads to change & progress. And what better topic than quiet quitting which has so many factors embedded within it? Add it in the comments ⬇️
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*Article: What is ‘quiet quitting,’ and how it may be a misnomer for setting boundaries at work (NPR, 2022)
Author: AMINA KILPATRICK
Contributor: Ed Zitron
*Book: “Predictably Irrational” (2008)
Author: Dan Ariely
*Article: “CEO compensation surged 14% in 2019 to $21.3million: CEOs now earn 320 times as much as a typical worker” (2020)
Author: Lawrence Mishel & Jori Kandra, Economic Policy Institute
*Article: “These 19 fortune 100 companies paid next to nothing or nothing at all in taxes in 2021” – Center For American Progress (2022)
*Article: “U.S. companies just had their best year since before most of us were born” CBS (March 31, 2022)
Author: Kate Gibson
*Article: “You’re really only productive for this many hours in an 8 hour rok day study finds – Procrastination outweighs productivity for many office workers”
Author: BY BETSY MIKEL
*Article: “How to keep your team motivated, remotely” @HBR (2020)
Author: Lindsay McGregor and Neel Doshi