Silent Resignation: Trouble With New Workplace Trend Amid Recession Fears

Dozens of Australian workers are fighting undercover against their ungrateful bosses, but there’s a worrying reason why the latest workplace trend could end up backfiring.

In recent weeks, “quiet quit” has become a new buzzword, with the term trending on social media platforms like TikTok.

In a nutshell, it refers to workers, especially millennials and Gen Z, who eschew the hustle culture and do the minimum necessary for their job, instead going above and beyond and working overtime.

The move has been fueled by several factors, including stagnant wages as inflation and cost-of-living pressures soar, increased workload and stress during the pandemic, and incredibly low unemployment levels. .

In other words, it is now an employee market, and an increasing number of workers are waking up to that fact and refusing to go the extra mile without being fairly compensated and recognized.

a labor market

This week, news broke that Australia’s unemployment rate had plummeted to the lowest level in nearly half a century.

According to the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in July the unemployment rate fell by 0.1%, from 3.5% to 3.4%, the lowest since August 1974.

Labor shortages are being felt across all sectors and nationally, job postings remain extremely high compared to pre-Covid levels, meaning there are plenty of opportunities for many Australian workers looking for a change. .

Meanwhile, Consumer Price Index inflation recently hit 6.1 percent, with Treasurer Jim Chalmers warning it could soon climb to 7.5 percent, while wage growth has stalled, rising only 2.4 percent.

According to the 2022 Salary Guide from recruiting firm Robert Half, bosses are waking up to the growing problem, with 31 percent saying their biggest challenge this year will be holding on to top performers, with 78 percent of employees willing to leave if their salary increases. request is denied.

UNSW Business School Associate Professor Mark Humphery-Jenner told that the silent trend to quit was especially common among skilled workers who are paid a salary and not a fee. per hour whose work focuses on KPIs and who have already raised concerns such as pay and terms with their employer, and those concerns were ignored.

“Wages don’t go up, but inflation and the cost of living do, so people realize they’re actually getting less disposable income,” he explained.

“During the pandemic, for many jobs, the hours and/or stress increased…and (during that time) many workers became more veteran, skilled and efficient, and it all adds up to a lot of frustration.

“Many employees feel like they are now being taken advantage of, as if their employer doesn’t recognize them and looks down on them, leading people to quietly quit.”

Dr. Humphery-Jenner said feedback from those who quit quietly indicated that it was not a first resort, with most deciding not to do anything only after they began to feel their concerns were not being taken seriously by their bosses .

“Some do it as a form of revenge, and others do it as a form of workplace apathy: Having raised their concerns and still not being taken seriously, they are desperate,” he said.

‘risky’ strategy

While the quiet trend toward quitting is understandable given current conditions, Dr. Humphery-Jenner cautioned that this golden moment for employees likely won’t last forever.

“Unemployment is going to get worse, the US is probably in a recession… and US economic conditions could trickle down to Australia,” he said.

“When people quietly resign, they need to be delicate about how they phrase it, because unemployment will rise…and an openly silent resignation could hurt their long-term prospects at the company.

“You don’t want to be the person whose head is on the line first when a recession hits. It’s a delicate balance and quietly quitting can be risky.”

Instead, Dr. Humphery-Jenner said employees who were frustrated in their current position and believed they could earn more or enjoy better conditions at another company would probably be better off “taking their business elsewhere” given the power of bargaining for many workers, especially skilled ones. , top-tier talent, now had.

He said workers should always be on the lookout for new opportunities, keep in touch with relevant recruiters and should try to leave their current job on good terms whenever possible, which could help them get back on track if the economy is tough. to improve. decline.

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