By Mark Carey
Quiet Quitting is a viral phase being used among younger employees and rapidly spreading to all age groups. Quiet quitting is simply doing your job, as it is defined in your job description, and nothing more. Quiet quitters don’t actually quit, they just work the minimum number of hours each week and nothing more. Although the phrase is a bit negative and does not actually reflect the employee’s outlook, it has taken an immediate hold and spread throughout the press like wildfire.
Employers Are to Blame Not Employees
Employers are the ones to blame for quiet quitting. Those who control the past control the future (1984- Orwell). Employers have always controlled the narrative of “work” at the founding of this country and continue to do so today. That narrative is filled with anti-employee pro employer favored rules, laws, and employment agreements (think forced arbitration, NDAs for sex offenders, noncompete agreements for 50% of all workers, wage theft due to improper wage classifications for employees who are really nonexempt, arbitration agreements that keep company secrets from public view). The most notorious of all old narratives is the at-will rule, which shields so much employment discrimination.
A New Tipping Point in Favor of Employees
Everyone seems to be looking for the tipping point for a brand new work culture in this country, hence all the press on remote work, surveillance and now quiet quitting. Are we there yet? Of course, but the power brokers want to quell any momentum- cue the consultants, naysayers, pundits, SHRM, Chamber of Commerce and so on. If employers can kill the inertia, just like they are tying to do with remote work, then they win. Are employees too weak and decentralized to stop them, maybe not. Think Hong Kong protests using umbrellas, masks and flash mobs organized anonymously over social media platforms, only to be put down through violence and communist dictatorship control. But we are not China, we are a democracy. Workers have rights but employers, state and federal general assemblies and the courts want to minimize them in favor of employers. Money talks because companies have money and need more of it. But employees have information and communication power in the age of the internet.
Quiet Quitting Is The New Silent Protest
Quiet quitting is different. Quiet quitters are not going to reveal themselves and will stay below the surface of working the required hours and getting the “Meets Expectation” performance review rating. Meanwhile, employers continue in metronome fashion to require the “numbers” (aka employees) to do their tasks, remain silent, provide undivided loyalty to their masters (boss/executive leadership) -rinse and repeat. This is the same narrative format underneath racism in this country, it never goes away because capitalism was built on it. Likewise, employers will continue to keep their workers in lock step in order to control employee servitudes that make a corporation a corporation and make profit – aka “a particularly virulent and unrestrained version of capitalism.” Sarah Jones.
A Radical Solution
The solution is transparency in all things employment, ban the at-will rule, ban noncompete agreements (FTC currently reviewing this issue), institute termination “for cause” in every job, not just executive positions, kinder and gentler HR Departments, ban forced arbitration for all employment claims not just sex discrimination, free mental health services, provide cash rewards for anonymous employee tips reporting discrimination of any kind, longer vacations, equal pay for women, and on and on. The implementation of all or some of the above solutions will create immediate employee trust and promote fully engaged employees, in comparison to the extremely high level of disengagement across all age bands of workers nationwide.
For more information about quiet quitting or to speak to one of our employment attorneys, please contact Carey & Associates P.C. or call 203-255-4150.