Quiet quitting: Passing fad or a workers’ movement?

“Quiet quitting,” “acting your wage,” “inflation-adjusted effort” or whatever else you might call the new phenomenon of workers choosing to do less in the workplace, it appears to be affecting employers across the country and in our communities. Hear from three perspectives on quiet quitting and what it might mean for the future of work.

Ross A. Jackson: Quiet quitting as a silent protest movement

“Quiet quitting makes sense if organizations are subject to two common constraints. Most organizations are shaped as pyramids, not squares. Being promoted is a competition, and there will always be fewer winners than players in the promotion game. Doing more than is required can be a way to earn a promotion, but not everybody who does more will be promoted. Additionally, there is often a wage range that an organization is willing to pay for a given labor category. If one is at the top of that range, doing more will not result in a salary increase. Managers will likely attempt to encourage these people to continue to do more, because it is beneficial to the organization, not because it is beneficial to those workers. It is exploitive to expect workers who will not be promoted and who will not receive a salary increase to continue to do more than what is required. As workers figure this out, they are increasingly deciding to quiet quit at work.”

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Steve Stivers: Quiet quitting is fine — if you are willing to accept the consequences

“Those who engage in quiet quitting need to understand there it can result in long-term consequences for the future of your career trajectory. The free market will dictate who rises to the top and who stays static in their career. It takes hard work to advance in many industries; you must sometimes exceed expectations to set yourself apart from the competition. When it comes time for raises, bonuses and promotions, who do you think will be considered: the employee who does their job and nothing more, or the one who surpasses the requirements and provides irreplaceable value to the company or organization? Likely the latter.”

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Jerry O’Ryan: Quiet quitting or acting your wage?

“Workers of all levels and professions will tell you what they want from their job is a wage commensurate with the tasks and responsibilities required. They also want and deserve the intangibles: respect, autonomy, a voice and a comfortable cultural environment. The intangibles don’t cost anything, but perhaps a lot of that was shoved aside while employers panicked over supply chain issues, worker output with fewer workers and the unceasing pandemic. Let’s face it, it’s tough to play nice every day, whether employer or employee, when you’re trying to meet both customer demands and job security.

Whether quiet quitting or outright resignation, once we return to the cubicle or home office, the cumulative effect will certainly look different than the pre-COVID environment. I suspect, as many of us do now, that a hybrid of work and workplace will be the new way we perform our duties.”

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