Quiet quitting and the noise surrounding it

By September 15, 2022 No Comments
Bill Baldera's quiet qutting discussion

It’s getting nasty in the comments section about quiet quitting:

  • “This generation wants to work less than their parents did and then complain about having less than their parents did,”
  • “Quiet quitting is just all of us realizing that a work day should have an ending.”
  • “So you want to work less, get paid more, and then complain that prices are going up and customer service sucks?”
  • “Love this. I want everyone at my job doing this and I’ll keep working and getting promoted and pay increases.”
  • “The days of, “work for free or get fired,” are over.”
  • “If you want to spend without looking at your bank balance, you need to work without looking at the clock.”
  • “Nothing wrong with minimal complying with job requirement”

On the bright side, I think most of the noise around quiet quitting happens just in the comments section. I’m lucky enough to have a lot of business owners and hiring managers friends; quiet quitting is not something on our “work talk” agenda.

I’m sure at some companies, the tension and war are real. Big tech and publicly traded company executives and shareholders talk about overstaffing and unproductive employees. 

Effects of The Great Resignation

I’ve read that the chaos of The Great Resignation may have led to panic hiring and overpaying resulting in bad quarterly reports; that many employees who jumped during The Great Resignation were unhappy and didn’t stay at their new job long.

I’ve seen Reddit posts from employees who brag about working a few hours a day or working multiple full-time jobs.

I’ve never run a venture-backed start-up or a Fortune company. However from my view, all the energy spent with both sides seemingly manipulating the other into working more or less could be spent better elsewhere. I suspect employees, executives and shareholders would all win if they put the same energy into developing new products, serving customers, learning skills or selling.

Putting yourself second as the owner

Most small business owners I know pay themselves last, skip salary when times are lean, and put their employees first. I believe the day you go from solopreneur to small business owner, you become the lowest priority person in your company. 

At the same time, most employees I know do want to work hard. They see a correlation between the impact they have on their company and their rewards. 

With that being said, I don’t deny the existence of broken companies and systems. I don’t deny there are greedy, heartless executives and lazy, entitled employees. But in 25 years in the business world, 90% of my experience has been that leaders care deeply about their team and employees care deeply about their work.

A new way of thinking about our relationship with work

I was the President of a marketing agency back in 2008. Things got really rough. No fewer than 12 local companies in our peer set didn’t make it. Everyone was doing layoffs. Budgets crashed. We were a young, cocky and lucky company and managed to dodge the recession bullet. At the time we had a saying, “We are choosing not to participate in the recession.” 

I’m definitely a lot older and a lot more humble today. But I’ve decided to opt-out of this management vs labor war. “Quiet quitting”, and its counterpart, “Quiet firing” feel like clickbait article fodder meant to feed passive aggressive behavior and convince employers to think of employees as cogs in a wheel and employees to think of employers as ATMs.

We are all humans. We can choose to reduce each other to a couple of numbers: hours and dollars. Or we can choose to treat each other with respect. 

I think most employers want their team members to leave early to pick up their kids, get home to meet the plumber or go out to happy hour together. I think most employees understand that sometimes you have to log in to work after the kids go to bed. Or put in a few hours on a Sunday. Or keep working until you finish the project.

There is a theory out there right now that goes like this: “Capitalism/the System/The Free Market has winners and losers. We reward companies for squeezing the most work out of employees at the lowest cost. Employee motivation comes from doing the least work for the most money possible.”

I challenge that narrative. I think what we’ll see play out in the workforce will go like this: “The companies that are the most compassionate, genuine, and generous to employees will attract the most energized, hardest working, and loyal employees and the market will reward that company.”

Here’s hoping you, whether a business owner, Fortune executive or an intern on your first day on the job, join me in opting out of this quiet qutting trend.