“Quiet Quitting” is just a trendy new name for a very old idea

In recent weeks the term “quiet resignation” has taken the media by storm. The Internet is abuzz with chatter about the supposed tendency of workers who vow to do only the bare minimum at work and nothing more.

As always, interest in the trend is partly driven by the media’s insatiable appetite for the next shiny new thing that will drive clicks. And certainly, the surge in interest in quiet resignations reflects how many Americans feel about their jobs after more than two years of pandemic disruption.

But while it’s undeniable that the media is hungry for content and many workers are fed up, it’s fair to ask: Is quiet resignation really as new or as big a trend as the roughly eight million articles written about it in the past six years suggest? weeks or so ;

Quiet disruption: do the numbers match the hype?

Recent poll numbers cast doubt. Sure enough, a new Gallup survey finds that half of workers are “disengaged” at work and another 16 percent are “actively disengaged.” This latter group is defined as resentful and tries to stick it to the boss by doing as little as possible (so absolute quiet is waived). For entrepreneurs these numbers should be a wake-up call to make sure your workforce is properly compensated and motivated. But as Quartz recently pointed out, these statistics are not unprecedented.

“The percentage of workers identified as engaged was even lower between 2000-2014,” notes the site’s Sarah Todd. And American workers are “positively obsessed with work enthusiasm compared to workers in many other regions,” he adds, pointing to significantly lower levels of engagement in other parts of the world. Only 14 percent of Europeans work, for example.

Todd goes on to argue that while the phrase “quiet resignation” sounds dramatic, what it actually describes is that more workers are turning their backs on the cultural norms that you must find identity and fulfillment in your work (and therefore make easy choices for exploitation ). As the pandemic exits its acute phase, many people are looking for meaning in other areas of their lives.

Academics agree.

As I’ve written before, academics have long divided workers into categories based on how they approach their work. Some people see how they make a living as fundamental to their status and self-worth. Those people who derive great satisfaction from excellence at work have what researchers call “career orientation.” Others see their work as simply a means to put food on the table. This is a ‘career orientation’. A third group consisting of clergy, artists and similar professions see their work as an invitation.

This framework is basically just a more academic version of the old “work to live or live to work” question, and it’s been around for years. And as Todd describes the quiet resignation, it sounds a lot like a simple transition from a career to a professional orientation.

If so, it is nothing new. The vast majority of people throughout history have viewed their work as a means to an end. The quiet disruption may just be millions of workers, spurred by pandemic realizations, waking up from a fever dream of hustle culture to return to a shared, traditional understanding of work’s role in most people’s lives.

The problem is expectations mismatches, not silent resignation.

“Overall, the quiet resignation doesn’t seem to have many specific downsides for employees. It’s a much bigger problem from a boss’s perspective,” writes Todd. But this is not quite right. Career guidance is certainly not bad as a well thought out approach on the part of the employee. It doesn’t have to be negative on the part of the boss either.

The professors developed the job orientation framework in part to encourage employers to better match their expectations with those of employees. Many routine jobs are better accomplished by someone who wants to be in at nine and out at five and go home with a respectable salary. Some roles are better suited to those with a career or calling orientation. The problem arises when the job and its occupant don’t match — a careerist will miss an assistant position with little room for advancement, while a job-oriented worker will resent a position that requires total dedication.

Quiet resignation, aka just seeing your job as a job, is not a problem when everyone’s expectations are aligned. Issues arise when you thought you were hiring an ambitious provider, but your employee was only in it for stability and a paycheck. Which suggests perhaps the biggest lesson for entrepreneurs from the quietness of the madness of quitting life is to recommit to self-awareness, transparency and communication.

If you’re clear about the orientation you want for a particular role (and the actual scope of the job), and both you and the hiring candidate are open about your preferences, quietly resigning should be more media hype than real business. issue.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com writers are their own and not those of Inc.com.

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