There is a growing trend to view “lazy” millennials and Generation Zers as a menace to the workplace and the national economy. Quiet quitting is all the rage nowadays as fed-up young workers are doing the bare minimum, watching YouTube videos after completing assigned tasks, and being the first to leave at 5 p.m. But employees engaging in this behavior possess all the advantages since employers are desperate to fill their cubicles with bodies or have Zoom meetings photobombed by owners’ cats. So, what is quiet quitting, and how prevalent is this work style?
Quiet Quitting Is Rad
Social media has proven once again that it serves no other purpose than to embarrass an entire generation. TikTok and other digital portals into the minds of young whippersnappers have been flooded with the #QuietQuitting hashtag, amassing millions of impressions and generating buzz in the press.
Quiet quitting first captured attention when The Wall Street Journal published an article on the latest workplace phenomenon. It consists of workers not actively trying to receive pink slips, but otherwise rejecting the hustle and bustle of the asphalt jungle. Instead of going above and beyond the call of duty, be it answering emails at 3 a.m. or talking to the socialist intern at a pub after work, names on the company payroll fulfill only their job descriptions.
Whether it is turning off their work-related phones during the weekend or refusing to take on extra work from the manager who has benefited from being related to the boss’ mistress, staff members are yet again abandoning the old ways of doing things. This, of course, earns the scorn of their generational predecessors, which has been an attitude as old as time.
Business personality and famous investor Kevin O’Leary calls it “a really bad idea,” telling CNBC that he is looking to hire individuals who will work “25 hours a day, eight days a week. If you’re shutting off your laptop at 5 p.m. and going home, you’re not working for me.”
“People that go beyond to try to solve problems for the organization, their teams, their managers, their bosses, those are the ones that succeed in life,” he added. “There’s no question about it, personal happiness is something that is a balance between work and life. It has nothing to do with nine-to-five. There is no balance in the pursuit of personal freedom. It is all out, pedal to the metal.”
At a time when real wage growth is negative and workers have been burned time and again by companies, can anyone fault those who are participating in quiet quitting? It might be a moot point, though, because what matters is the economic data – and the numbers are not pretty.
Labor Productivity Collapsing
Liberty Nation has reported on a few occasions on collapsing labor productivity rates. This year, workers’ output levels have been abysmal. Non-farm productivity plunged 7.4% in the first quarter and 4.6% in the second quarter, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This is the worst decline since the US government started monitoring the figure following World War II. What’s more, the number of hours worked climbed, and compensation rates increased in the first half of 2022. How does that even happen?
This is a crucial statistic because the US economy now depends on productivity. Population growth has lagged behind the gross domestic product (GDP) expansion, so the marketplace relies on increased output to make up the difference. Indeed, the United States has excelled at production for decades, thanks to Corporate America’s innovation and exceptional investments in technology. But companies still need staff, which explains the more than ten million job openings ubiquitous in today’s post-pandemic economic landscape.
Employees might be able to get away with quiet quitting. However, with the red-hot labor market doused by the Federal Reserve’s tightening crusade and growing recession fears, workers may need to reverse course and prove their worth once again. In addition, new surveys have found that a growing number of companies plan to lay off their workers this year and invest more in automation. Plus, if most work is being accomplished online, why would companies refrain from hiring someone from Indonesia or the Philippines?
A Gripe Against Millennials?
The quiet quitting story has stoked two reactions. The first is from the Baby Boomers complaining about lazy and entitled millennials and Generation Z folks. The second is young people claiming they are entitled to a paycheck from greedy corporations who are behind the times and do not offer personnel break rooms with puppies, chocolate chip cookies, and arcades. Both might have points, but any grievances about generational entitlement are comparable to what Horace wrote in Odes in 20 BCE: “Our sires’ age was worse than our grandsires’. We, their sons, are more worthless than they; so in our turn we shall give the world a progeny yet more corrupt.”
So, how about a three-hour coffee break?