What do you do when you’re feeling overworked, underpaid, unheard, and perhaps unappreciated at work? Ordinarily, you would arrange a meeting with your manager, express how you feel, and talk about any issues or changes you hope for regarding your job. If all goes well, things may start to change in the workplace. Your responsibilities will shift, and you’ll feel more fulfilled in your role. However, if the Gen Z and millennials way of working is anything to go by, it’s out with this old way of working. And it’s in with the newest trend taking over TikTok and infiltrating the workplace, ‘quiet quitting and acting your wage’.

What is Quiet Quitting?

Quiet quitting is not quitting your job per se. It involves doing less work or placing firmer boundaries from working outside of one’s working hours.

In early 2022, a TikTok user referred to an article that spoke about how many employees have chosen to “take it easy at work” and not quit their jobs. This post quickly blew up and people are talking about it more and more. The understanding behind this phenomenon is that employees are quitting from the idea of doing more than their jobs entail. Instead, employees are choosing to ‘coast’ through their work and simply earn their wage.

Acting Your Wage

No, not “act your age” as we’ve often heard it said to someone acting younger and in a possibly immature manner. In the professional setting “acting your wage” is another social media trend that grew from quiet quitting. Similarly, it means employees do the bare minimum that they are being paid for. That is, their effort and contribution at work directly reflects their wages. Nothing more; nothing less.

What Quiet Quitting and Acting Your Wage Looks Like

These trends are taking over the workplaces as frustrations build among workers for a variety of reasons. The general theme of how quiet quitting and acting your wage is unchanging across the board and industries. However, what this looks like to each individual may differ. Here’s some behaviours you can associate with these trends:

  • Not responding to emails, messages on Team and other work platforms outside your set hours
  • Not accepting tasks or taking on additional responsibilities over your set job description
  • Clocking in and out of hour at the allotted time
  • Not being emotionally invested in the company or work 
  • No longer “grinding” and pulling in extra hours to get to the next level or corner office

Whatever you choose to call it, workers want to be valued, appreciated, and fulfilled at work. As the cost of living is going high, wages that don’t match the inflation, nor the piled-on responsibilities, these trends are not only gaining traction, but they aren’t new either.

Why Are People Quiet Quitting?

A recent Gallup survey indicated that 18% of employees are actively disengaged at work while more than 50% of those surveyed are just not engaged. The latter are the quiet quitters. People are choosing to act their wage for a variety of reasons.

  • For some, it may be a response to feeling burned out or experiencing high stress levels.
  • A means to reclaim their life outside of the office.
  • Devote time to mental health.
  • Demotivated from high costs of living and low wages

A quick mental wellbeing checkup can help you assess how well you’re coping and what you need to do to improve your mental health.

The Potential Pitfalls of ‘Quiet Quitting’ and Acting Your Wage

Regardless of where the trend originated, it’s important to consider that quiet quitting isn’t all good. There are potential pitfalls that can be associated with quiet quitting and acting your wage. Some of these can include:

  • Quiet quitting can hamper your career trajectory. Oftentimes, it is those employees who work hard and go above and beyond that are noticed and will be promoted. When you choose to act your wage, you’re also choosing to remain static in your career.
  • Limited wage increases or bonuses. When the annual performance review comes around, the employees that will likely be considered and awarded bonuses and a pay rise are those who exceeded expectations.
  • Stagnant career health. We spend a lot of our time at work, giving our time and energy to it. The hazardous effect of quiet quitting means you may lose passion, excitement, and being challenged in your work. In turn, you won’t be noticed or considered by your boss to take on new roles and more challenging tasks. This creates a vicious cycle as it leads to boredom and continuing in doing the bare minimum.

Maintaining a work-life balance can be a tricky road to navigate. Everyone is entitled to good mental health and should be allowed to pursue it. The other side of this is that by acting your wage, you set yourself up to remain where you are financially and with shrinking career prospects. What’s the solution?

What Quiet Quitters Really Want

Employers and organisations need to understand the needs of their staff and not resort to pushing back against those who are quiet quitters.

  • Employees want employers to set defined expectations, and clearly communicate everyone’s roles and responsibilities.
  • Employees want to be fair remuneration that is aligned to their respective tasks and responsibilities.
  • Employers need to recognise and prioritise their employees strive for work-life balance
  • Employers need to create a healthy, comfortable workplace environment and culture that allows individuality and makes room for career growth.
  • Employees want respect, to be heard, autonomy, motivation to give their best at work. They want leaders who lead.

More significantly, employees want employers who will follow through with what has been said and set.

Is quiet quitting a trend that will last or is it another passing fad? Only time will tell. The truth is that there are all types of people in the workplace and in society. Some of high-functioning overachievers. Others are adequate. And there are those who are happy straddling this line.

Each of us has different priorities. Others have the capacity to do more without it affecting their mental health. However, quiet quitters and individuals who choose to act their wage need to be aware that like all things, if you choose this route, you are also choosing the potential consequences this will have on your professional life and financial health. To each his own as the saying goes. And this too is okay.

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