The unemployment rate checked in with a bang for August, moving to 3.7% from 3.5%, while 315,000 jobs became available. Is the the first big jolt in the wrong direction so many – particularly those in the “Yes, we are in a recession!” camp – have been predicting? Job gains showed most forcefully in health care, retail trade, and professional and business services.
While the number of unemployed rose by 344,000 to 6 million.
Those considered active jobs seekers – they’ve looked for work during the last 12 months, but not in the four weeks prior to data collection – stayed steady at 1.4 million. They are described as “wanting and being available for work.”
Permanent layoffs increased by 188,000 to 1.4 million. New figures on what we all now know as The Great Resignation aren’t out yet, but the July number was 4.2 million, bringing the quit rate to 2.7%.
So why is everybody talking about Quiet Quitting?
Peacefully Sitting, Quietly Quitting
Quiet Quitting seems to be a perfect term for the complete lack of passion it describes. The Great Resignation was, and – as far as we know at the moment – still is, fuelled by enough passion to make people walk out of their jobs in the hope of something better. Something more flexible. Something more… remote.
These folk don’t have the same fire in their bellies. And that may be the underlying issue.
“Quiet quitting’ is a term that has taken social media by storm and is become something of a phenomenon in countries like China and Australia. Unlike other terms such as ‘job hopping’ or the ‘Great Resignation’, which can be defined easily, this acts as a teaser term, leading to lots of online questions around what it actually means.
Most sources say it began in China, with the term ‘tang ping’ or ‘lying flat’ taking hold across the country, among young people demanding a better work-life balance.
Ultimately, it means employee disengagement. Since job hopping and the Great Resignation were terms coined to describe new phenomena in the work place, this term could be seen as disingenuous. In reality, it appears to have been coined by people wanting to discuss an old issue by attracting people to the idea – which is actually very clever.
It would be a shame to think that people intelligent enough to come up with new terms for an old problem, then take social media by storm in various countries, are actually disengaged in their own jobs.
This really does conjure up an image of wasted talent.
Of course, the fact that it’s becoming so popular in the US – on the heels of the Great Resignation, is more than a coincidence. There is a feeling that burnout, or a desperate response to the onset of burnout, is permeating these trends.
So What Does It Mean to Quiet Quit?
Employees will often become disengaged if they feel overworked and underappreciated. The core of quiet quitting appears to be a refusal to do anything more than the basic duties a person was hired to perform. That doesn’t sound so bad on the face of it, but what it implies is toxic: employees who think of their jobs as nothing more than a paycheck.
Let’s be clear. If the problem is that a business can’t cope with people fulfilling their employment agreements and doing what they were hired to do, it means the problem is with that business. They are expecting complete devotion and gratitude and unreasonable “flexibility”.
If the problem is a lazy person clinging to the limits of their job at the expense of team spirit, or refusing to help others by going the extra mile now and again, the problem is with that person.
Clearly, there is no simple answer to solve this question.
However, quiet quitters do guarantee that teamwork will break down, because so much relies on people helping each other – rather than individuals performing pre-set tasks that exist within a relentlessly smooth, uninterrupted process.
That’s simply not realistic.
And once teamwork starts to break down, the company follows.
When people stop helping each other with simple tasks because ‘that’s not my job’ or ‘that’s not in my sprint,’ resentments start to build and cracks start to appear. It’s possible to think: ‘Well, it’s for the best if those types quit.’ That’s fine, but not if you’re responsible for creating those people by bringing them into your badly run company.
Quiet Quitting Vs. The Great Resignation
With fears of recession in the US, some believe the end of the Great Resignation is in sight, as employees start to fear losing their jobs. It now seems possible that one phenomenon will be replaced by another, equally toxic, phenomenon. If you cannot engage your employees, you will end up with teams of quiet quitters, slowly and indifferently destroying your business.
If a recession gives you the leverage to force reluctant workers back into the office, for example, what sort of engagement will you inspire? How much long-term value can you squeeze out of people’s fear of losing their jobs?
Try to imagine how that could go wrong.
Engaging your employees does not mean burning them out. If you can manage that, you should think about showing credit where credit is due. Office politics and cliques create quiet quitters wherever they fester. Breaking down office politics, giving praise, handing out cash bonuses for ‘above and beyond’ performance – these types of positive engagement can have great ROI.
A well-designed workflow and transparency in communications will also make a difference.
Hiring good managers is also a great way to prevent the production of quiet quitters in your company. Getting it wrong means trouble. Another method is using Ladders to find highly skilled, highly qualified professionals, pay them what they’re worth, and treat them in the way they deserve.”
And getting that right should also keep The Great Resignation at bay, too. (Maybe.)
So Where Are We Going With This?
With the drop in employment to 3.5% last month, some were quick to see this as the start of a move in the right direction, and evidence that the recession naysayers could be wrong. Fair enough, but Ladders CEO, Dave Fish, gave his advice clearly, and it was reported as follows:
If the current unemployment rate of 3.5 percent cannot be sustained and starts to move into reverse in the near future, Dave believes the consequences could be shocking for professionals across industries:
- For employers: Employers will likely find themselves ripping up hiring strategies and going into financial survival mode. Current top-of-mind issues like retention rates will go out the window as the balance of power shifts and employees become worried about losing their jobs. Ironically, too much of a perceived shift will almost certainly backfire. Flexibility is here to stay, so employers who make too much of having the upper hand could pay a heavy price.
- For professionals: Professionals who have been enjoying The Great Resignation will start to experience a colder world with less opportunities. However, as stated, they will also see that many remote-work and other flexible options will remain. Some may need to switch industries or brush up in new areas of expertise to gain those career options, but there is little chance that millions of people will simply accept that the game has changed and knuckle down.
“We have helped our members weather many storms over the past 19 years,” Dave told us, “throughout The Great Recession, the pandemic, and current uncertainty about the future. At the moment, we’re delighted about the new low unemployment figures, but still offering our Premium careers package to businesses at a discount, so they can gift a Ladders membership to any professionals who find themselves having job offers rescinded, or being laid off.
“As we continue to navigate these economic challenges and bizarre contradictions, our team is committed to helping professionals compete effectively, and to provide the tools necessary to ensure their success, regardless of how the balance ultimately tilts.”