Maybe it’s the pandemic. Maybe it’s social media. Or the need for work-life balance.
Quiet abandonment is all the buzz around water coolers, virtual and in-person. It is a new name for a behavior that has existed since the beginning of labor. For some workers, this means not taking on additional tasks without additional pay. For others, it means doing the minimum.
The craze kicked off on TikTok, with influencers touting the coolness of doing the bare minimum at work to avoid burnout, as Gen Z take care of what’s really important to them: friends and family. .
Pandemic shutdown weary, this message resonated across a cross section of generations. Do what you get paid for. Do not be exploited. With a labor shortage in many industries, employees now find themselves in a position to have the upper hand.
But do you really have to do the minimum to skate? Not if you want to ride.
Beth Scherer, director of consulting and outsourcing at CBIZ, which works with companies across the country on human resources, said there are always people who go above and beyond at a company. It’s the few at the top who get noticed, she says.
Most companies have a bell curve when it comes to employee engagement and productivity, Scherer said. A small group at the top, a small group at the bottom, the majority doing the job effectively. Being with the majority with a work-life balance is perfectly fine, she said.
“We shouldn’t take advantage of it,” Scherer said. “We need them to do the job.”
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“The work is piled on the people who stay”
Silent Surrender is a new name for an old concept. But it’s a trend because of pandemic influences, Scherer said. People who have left the labor market have often not been replaced, so the work is distributed among the remaining workers.
“The work is piled on the people who stay,” Scherer said.
There’s a disconnect between what managers think employees should be doing and employees doing too much work, she said.
According to a study published last month by Harvard Business Review, quitting quietly is less about an employee’s willingness to work harder and more about a manager’s ability to build rapport with their staff.
Many people have worked for a manager who forced them to quit quietly. It comes from feeling undervalued and unappreciated. Managers may be biased or behave inappropriately. The lack of motivation was a reaction from the manager. Yet most mid-career employees have also worked for a leader they want to perform well for, including working late or starting early because the manager was inspiring, according to the HBR study.
We all decide to do the bare minimum or go the extra mile at work. The Harvard Business Review study is right, it often comes down to how people are treated by management. If your manager has ever stereotyped you, would you be inspired to go beyond that? Conversely, if your manager believes in you and watches over you, will you let your manager down?
Whether it is acceptable to quit quietly also depends on the type of profession, and not on a generational divide.
Frankie Fiero, 20, from Clifton, said if she was asked to work overtime at her office job she would expect to be compensated for it. But if she is working towards a career goal, she would gladly do the extra work.
Different professions have different expectations, Scherer said. In engineering, it’s common for employees to work the scheduled hours, but in a profession like law, overtime is expected until you become the business bringer.
In the media, going beyond is normal because it is a competitive field. My daughter Gen Z understands this as a film major, currently giving her 110% to enter a volatile profession where she needs to stand out. Just like her Gen X mother had done about 30 years ago.
Just as the pandemic has changed the nature of work with the labor market now favoring worker bees, the profession also dictates whether it is acceptable to quit smoking.
It’s a matter of supply and demand.
Mary Chao is a columnist who covers the Asian community and real estate in North Jersey. Email [email protected]