Pandemic contributes to “quiet quitting” as workers seek work/life balance

KOLD News 6-6:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 6:51 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - You’ve probably heard the phrase “quiet quitting,” catching on across social media. It’s when a worker is doing the bare minimum, only when they’re on the clock, and just doing enough to collect a paycheck.

When we asked for thoughts on quiet quitting on Facebook, it was clear the term strikes a nerve, more deeply than a transitory trend.

“It’s about not letting yourself be taken advantage of by a job that doesn’t value you as an actual person,” said one follower.

“Quiet quitting isn’t about doing a BAD job. It’s about the decision to draw boundaries & respect yourself,” said another commenter.

It seems “The Great Resignation” has morphed into a “Great Reset” brought on by - you guessed it- the pandemic, which gave workers time to re-evaluate.

“It’s rare in life we get the chance to get off the treadmill,” said Marc Lamber, an attorney with Fennemore in Tucson.

“People are off on their own, and don’t feel the love...don’t feel the connectivity,” Lamber said, “And because the labor market is so hot, they know they have choices.”

Lamber says, in Arizona, quiet quitting is not protected behavior. Companies still have the right to fire someone who isn’t performing. The question is, with two jobs available for every person looking for work, can they afford to?

Some employers are fighting back by surveilling employees - especially those who work from home. The software typically counts keystrokes or records screen shots, and some companies even adjust pay based on this data.

The perceived lack of trust is not helping heal workplace wounds.

“That destroys trust at such a deep level - that it’s hard to repair,” said Lamber.

Dr. Jayne Gardner works with employers. She says, solutions to quiet quitting need to start at the top.

“It’s on bosses to get your employees involved with you and to reach out and make them feel like they’re a real person with you,” said Gardner.

A key word from experts is “engagement.” It’s much harder for workers to disengage when the boss stays actively and positively involved.

“Many times, an employee’s ready to give that help, they’re just never asked. So ask them and get them involved,” Gardner said.

She says bosses should be specific and generous with praise, and know something about their employees.

If yours isn’t - Dr. Jayne says quiet quitting is not the answer. Look for a job you’re passionate about first, and then, you can actually quit. If you can’t leave right now - do your best to pinpoint what attracted you to it in the first place, and talk to your boss about re-focusing on that, keeping in mind that not all the responsibility lies with the employer.

”Quiet quitting means you’re not communicating, so you’re probably not going to get what you want, either way. Get out there and at least try something,” Gardner said.

In other words - be louder, not quieter.

“COVID has changed a lot. It’s changed the power dynamic. Employees have more power now,” said Gardner, “They’re trying to give a message and I think employers that we aren’t being heard we aren’t feeling significant to you and we will move on.”

With all of this talk about quiet quitting, a new catch phrase is making the rounds: quiet firing. Workers are beginning to share stories of retaliation, as bosses leave seemingly “quiet quitting” workers out of important discussions or assignments. The question is: who will break the cycle.