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

In the last few weeks, you might have seen the phrase “Quiet Quitting.” The phenomenon, popularized by the video sharing app TikTok, has recently become a hot topic in the news and across social media platforms.

The phrase does not refer to actual resignation, but rather a workplace trend that sees employees — often of younger generations — choosing not to go above and beyond the limits of their job descriptions. In short, quiet quitting means sticking to the bare minimum.

It now has data to back it up: a new Gallup survey found that 18% of employees are “actively disengaged at work,” which is the highest count since 2013. Over 50% of workers are simply “not engaged” — those are the quiet quitters. Remote and hybrid workers under the age of 35 are driving the trend.

The trend likely directly relates to the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent Great Resignation. The pandemic was such a massive, global life-altering event; it caused people everywhere to reassess their priorities for a variety of reasons. Some have realized that being home with their families is most important to them, and that forging a healthy work-life balance is the best way to accomplish that. Google searches for things like “how to quit a job” are higher than ever. People are not satisfied with the way things used to be, and perhaps those things will need to change.

Only time will tell if these trends will stick, but for now, people can decide against prioritizing their careers. They are free to make their own choices— that is famously one of the best things about our country. There is nothing wrong with competently fulfilling explicitly stated job responsibilities. It is important to prioritize mental health and set appropriate boundaries. Each person can decide for themselves what it will take to make that happen.

However, 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.

It is also important to note that the onus does not lie fully on workers here. Employers need to respect boundaries and be cognizant of their role on their employees’ mental health. They also need to give employees motivation to provide their best effort; that is a crucial part of being a leader. Since 2019, the number of young workers who feel that someone encourages their development at work has dropped 12 points, and fewer than 4 in 10 say they even know what is expected of them at work.

Ultimately, at a time like this, we need everyone who wants to be in the workforce to do so. It takes all kinds of people to build a functioning society, and we need adequate workers as well as exceptional ones.

To put it bluntly, we all prioritize our lives differently and that is okay. However, if you choose to forgo extra effort in the workplace because your priorities lie elsewhere, you should accept there may be lasting professional consequences to that decision.

Steve Stivers is the CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.

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.

» Quiet quitting or acting your wage?

» Quiet quitting is fine — if you are willing to accept the consequences

» Quiet quitting as a silent protest movement

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