You are currently viewing Corporate Media Goes All Out To Kill The Quiet Quit Trend |  by U-Ming Lee |  Sep 2022

Corporate Media Goes All Out To Kill The Quiet Quit Trend | by U-Ming Lee | Sep 2022

They make people believe that quietly quitting smoking is their fault. This is not the case.

Photo by Marco Bianchetti on Unsplash.

Quietly quitting is just doing exactly what your job description calls for. No more no less.

Since the silent shutdown trend is only a few weeks old, various definitions are attributed to it to guide the conversation about silent shutdown.

Some of these alternative definitions are offered to dissuade people from quitting quietly, serving the interests of parties who want things to stay as they are.

Thus, media deans like Arianna Huffington confuse silent surrender with “surrender of life,” describing it as tantamount to suicide.

Or Kevin O’Leary dismissing it entirely as a bad idea because, for him, the only way to succeed is to “outdo himself” for his bosses.

And other opposing voices argue that silent abandonment can lead to underdeveloped skills and branding one as “not a team player.”

Now, what these arguments have in common is that they equate silent stopping with “relaxing” in order to create a reaction against this new trend.

So if you’re thinking about quitting quietly (or have already done so), these comments might have you wondering if there’s something inherently immoral about you. You may even begin to doubt yourself and wonder if you should reconsider your commitment to your job.

In fact, quitting smoking quietly can be a very rational and reasonable response to your grievances about your job.

That is why.

Work is essentially an economic transaction between employer and employee.

Employees agree to allocate their time and energy to the employer. In exchange, the employee is remunerated by a salary.

The employee’s responsibilities to the employer, and vice versa, are outlined in the formal employment contract that the employee signs with the employer before starting work.

But employment contracts cannot violate the law. In the UK, for example, employers cannot require employees to work more than 48 hours per week on average.

Some employers ask employees to agree not to meet the 48-hour limit. But employees have the right to terminate this amendment at any time.

Once an employment contract is signed, it is perfectly reasonable for employers to impose requirements on employees that fall entirely within the scope of the employment contract.

The question arises, however, when some employers believe they have the right to demand more of their employees. And then, due to the inherent power imbalance between employer and employee, the employer employs various tactics to convince employees that they have to go the extra mile to keep their jobs.

A former employer of mine believes in the “rank-and-yank” system popularized by Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric.

Jack Welch, by the way, was nicknamed “Neutron Jack”, a reference to neutron bombs, which eliminate people but leave buildings standing.

Rank-and-yank is a rigorous system that requires managers to identify the “winners” and “losers” of their teams.

People who rank at the very top of this system are rewarded with salary increases up to twice as large as those who rank in the middle of the pack.

The bottom 10% of employees, the so-called “C players”, are laid off.

The brutality of the system stems from the fact that there will always be C players in each round of performance evaluation.

It kept people on their toes. It made no difference how good you were at your job. The only thing that mattered was that your manager thought you outperformed 90% of the other employees.

If you were unlucky enough to be placed on a team with world-class players, you would be fired, even though you would have been an adequate performer on other teams.

In addition, this system promotes fierce competition. People feel the sword of Damocles of losing their jobs if they lag behind other employees. Thus, they tend to see them as competitors rather than colleagues.

The system also facilitates the development of unhealthy behaviors at work. Bosses wouldn’t even have to ask people to work unpaid on weekends. They would only have to hint that certain projects were behind schedule.

The combination of fear and competition would have people scrambling to make sure they were the ones fired in the next round of performance judging.

Ashley Lutz, director of hearings at Fortune, sees silent dumping as driven by the same impulses as bosses using “silent firing” to get rid of unwanted employees or people using “silent dumping” to get rid of unwanted meetings.

According to Ashley, silent abandonment is another sign that society is normalizing passive-aggressive behaviors.

I completely disagree with this portrayal.

The “silent shutdown as passive aggression” argument argues that silent shutdown is the worst of both worlds. By this reasoning, quitting silently literally wastes your time and the company’s time. Why not just quit and find a new job?

However, this argument assumes a level of privilege, such as the ability to quit a job you don’t like and throw your fortune into the job market to find a preferable alternative before your savings run out.

Naturally, this is not an option that everyone can pursue, especially when inflation is at its highest in decades.

Instead, by quitting smoking quietly, people hope to regain some autonomy (control) over their lives. After years of enduring a pandemic and changing quarantine policies, people are naturally looking to regain control of their own lives.

So, if their situation doesn’t allow them to quit their job completely, they may find that the next best option is to reclaim their free time by quitting quietly.

Most workers recognize that even if they work hard, they don’t get ahead.

Real wages, ie wages adjusted for inflation, have hardly budged for decades. Meanwhile, house price increases have outpaced inflation.

In 1973, the median house price was $30,000. It took 7,500 hours for an average worker to earn enough money to buy a house at the median hourly wage of $4.

The median home price jumped to $346,900 in 2021. The average worker earned $32 per hour, implying that it would take about 10,800 hours to buy an average home or 44% more than in 1973.

Let’s move on to tuition. Tuition and fees at a private, nonprofit college averaged $3,220 in 1971. Today, they’re closer to $38,200.

The 1973 worker had to work 805 hours to pay for a year of schooling. The worker of 2021 must provide 50% more effort, or 1,200 hours.

Meanwhile, companies reported the highest profits since the 1950s in 2021.

I could go on and on, quoting statistic after statistic, but that would be useless. You all understand what I’m trying to say here.

People are not stupid. They understand that they have to work 50% more hours than their predecessors in 1973 to achieve the same in life, despite companies reporting higher profits than before.

Those who engage in silent surrender have perfectly rational reasons for doing so.

Faced with diminishing returns to their work hours, the relative value of their time away from the office increases.

Threats that someone’s job tenure is at risk or that some nebulous “employability” factor is eroded because someone is not committed to the job lose their sting.

The appeal of working unpaid overtime in the office is diminishing. People realize that they can spend their time creating alternative sources of income through side businesses or investments.

Alternatively, they find more meaning in serving their family or community.

Following the great resignation, the flat culture, the side hustle culture and the digital nomadism, silent abandonment is the latest symptom of an underlying condition.

I would also classify increased demand for meme stocks, cryptocurrencies, NFTs or becoming an influencer as symptoms of the same condition.

People are falling behind in life compared to previous generations. Gen Z has given up hope of being able to buy their own home, pay off student loans, or cover emergency medical bills.

They realize that the average employee has spent their entire working life sacrificing weekends and family time for employers.

These employers, in turn, used every trick in the book to scare them into persisting in this behavior for fear of losing their jobs.

In exchange for the sacrifice of their lives, these people were rewarded with “quiet pay cuts”, with inflation far outpacing pay increases.

Is there any reason then to be surprised that young people entering the labor market for the first time consider alternative solutions?

In his screed against silent abandonment, Kevin O’Leary said

“You have to go beyond because you want to. That’s how we succeed. »


People have no problem going beyond that.

However, they have huge problems putting in the extra effort for efforts that don’t pay off.

Quitting quietly doesn’t go away just because industry leaders chastise people for doing it, enlighten them about their career prospects if they do, or humiliate them for supposed antisocial behavior.

It doesn’t take much to end the quiet abandonment, the big resignation or the flattening, all in one fell swoop.

Turn off the gaslight. Start treating people fairly.

This means not giving them bullshit missions just because they “look free”.

This means not downsizing and expecting everyone to work overtime to make up the difference because the boss wants to look good by “saving” the budget.

This means making salaries, bonuses and raises more transparent, so people feel less uncertain about their future and less compelled to stab colleagues in the back to advance in their careers.

More importantly, it means paying people a living salary, so they don’t have to seek hustles, part-time jobs, or gamble in increasingly speculative businesses just to have an acceptable quality of life.

No one quits – quietly or otherwise – if they feel like they have a fulfilling job that allows them to buy a house, raise a family, care for loved ones if they fall ill and to have enough money to retire comfortably.

It really is that simple.

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