Quiet Quitting & The Great Resignation

What’s with all the new terminology such as; the great resignation and now quiet quitting? Is this really new or just rebranding?

In the last several weeks I’ve seen more and more articles on this new term “quiet quitting”, and months before that, “the great resignation”. Normally, I just let these fad terms pass by, but I got so annoyed I decided to do some research to see what all the hubbub was about.

The first thing I needed to do was to learn the definition. What I found is that it boils down to an employee’s propensity to do the bare minimum, as prescribed by their job description.  Huh? This doesn’t seem new to me at all. This of course led to more confusion, so I continued to seek out information.

Then I noticed the number of articles making sure to NOT tie this quiet quitting term to a particular age group typically labeled as “lazy” (the Millennials). Lots of emphasis on that!

Then a lot of articles point out poor management and leadership training.

Overall, what I noticed was a lot of smart people, with good intentions, trying to figure out why we have such a state of malaise in our world today. I think this topic is worth discussing, I just don’t think it’s some new phenomenon.

After all, what’s so new or unique to employees having a propensity to do the bare minimum as prescribed by their job description? I’ve known people like this my entire life whether that be school friends, sports buddies, colleagues in the various companies I’ve worked in, or employees at companies I’ve consulted. I don’t think this is new. In fact, in terms of sales organizations, I’ve always seen the 80/20 rule/outcome whereby 80% of the sales were generated by the top 20% of the salesforce. I’ve seen that in other business disciplines as well. Unless I’m missing something, I don’t think this is new, let alone some huge paradigm shift as I’ve read by other authors.

There may be something to the millennial thing. I’m not sure but it’s worth consideration as they make up 35% of the US workforce currently and will represent 75% of the workforce by 2025. Before you skewer me let me state my observations of millennials as I’ve worked with hundreds and my kids fall into that generation. I don’t think they are lazy; I just think they work differently. I think my generation (the X’rs) just approached work differently. We’re known as results-oriented, hard-working achievers. Climbing that corporate ladder and searching for that next new title. I think the millennials watched us working 70/hour weeks seeking that next promotion and they want to do it differently. Different isn’t wrong, in fact, it may be better.  I think millennials’ approach to “how” they do their work and “how” they participate in raising their families/living their lives is improperly characterized as lazy.

Concerning the observations on poor management and leadership as contributory causes to this worker malaise, I can’t disagree. I think we’re creating far fewer good managers, leaders, and mentors these days. I think investment in training is looked at as a “luxury” rather than a “necessity” and this has left us with a lack of well-trained coaches and mentors. Companies would be wise to invest in those they rely on to hire and lead the talent required to run their business.

So far, nothing new it seems.

What I haven’t seen yet are articles discussing the psychological impact of social media and the soon-to-be overwhelming need for mental healthcare post-pandemic due to the government lockdowns. I’d like to see these factors explored a little more because this is our next big challenge culturally and we’re already seeing the outputs in terms of increased substance abuse, suicides, crime, brokenness, and fractured families, just to name a few. People are crying out for help and doing all sorts of crazy things to help bring attention to the fact that they are hurting and seek belonging.

Far too many of the younger workers (and overall population) are plugged into their social channels and being brainwashed in any number of ways. This “disconnect” from personal relationships and belief/participation in the “fake” world being portrayed in social media is causing severe cultural divides which are tearing at the fabric of basic humanity.

I’d like to see some studies on the long-term effects of the unprecedented governmental lockdowns during Covid. The incredible damage done by social isolation has been baked into our behaviors and psyche. Additionally, worker reluctance to return to the office will continue to isolate us and impact us emotionally and behaviorally forever. I’m not against remote or hybrid work. I’m actually a big fan and believe we were headed that way naturally anyhow. However, the forced isolation didn’t allow us to adjust properly to the best practices of work rules and leadership, in order to equip ourselves or our people and manage it, and its effects, proactively.

So where am I missing the thing about this hot topic of “quiet quitting” and what are your thoughts about starting a dialogue on the problematic outcomes of social media and isolation?

I’d love to hear your perspective!