Weekend Reading – Quiet Quitting Edition
Welcome to another Weekend Reading post, my quiet quitting edition.
Here are some of my recent articles as well:
Last Weekend Reading, I shared what some folks in the FIRE community seem to get wrong, including a continued obsession with the 4% rule.
I updated this post about how much cash we intend to keep, and why, with thanks to Rob Carrick from The Globe and Mail for picking up that article.
Weekend Reading – Quiet Quitting Edition
Have you heard of this: quiet quitting?
It’s largely a new term used by some younger adults in the workforce describing how they’re just going about the bare mininum at work and mentally checking out in the process…
I suspect, this trend, championed by mostly 20-somethings on TikTok was triggered by the pandemic.
Younger adults claiming:
- Overworking, even at home, makes little sense.
- It’s a way of working, for some, that helps protect mental and physical health – in a sometimes toxic work environment or corporate culture.
Yet staying in a job you don’t like (and putting the bare minimum in) highlights two big challenges to me:
- It means giving up any fulfillment that can come from a job you actually like, and
- It seems morally flawed.
I get the work-life balance, I would think that is something we all want but I’m not sure this trend is the answer.
Deloitte Global’s “2022 Gen Z and Millennial” survey found that these generations are striving for balance and advocating for change like never before. This report link above revealed that good work-life balance and learning and development opportunities were the top priorities for respondents when choosing an employer.
The study also revealed that:
- Almost half of Gen Zs (46%) and millennials (47%) live paycheck to paycheck (and worry they won’t be able to cover their expenses.)
- More than a quarter of Gen Zs (26%) and millennials (31%) are not confident they will be able to retire comfortably.
So, there is natural tension here: lack of income to cover current expenses but equally some willingness to check out from work.
This is not just a Gen Z or millennial issue.
Are there any solutions, to avoid this complete mental checkout in the workplace?
Here are some ideas and what I’m personally thinking about on this subject, below:
- Talk about it. I think anyone dragging out work or not feeling completely engaged in their work should discuss these issues or concerns with a friend, trusted co-worker, spouse/partner but ideally their workplace manager. At some point, ideally, you probably need to find a balance between making some income to pay for expenses and taking some enjoyment from your work – unless you are completely retired of course!
- Practice psychological safety. What I mean is, it’s acceptable to fail/not be perfect, it’s acceptable not to feel your best, it’s acceptable to recalibrate your workload. In fact, all these these are more than acceptable and should be practiced often in the workplace. Management styles should make any employee feel welcome to share, trust, and disucss any issue in a professional way without any fear of reprimand.
- Recalibrate your peronal time and figure out how much is enough. Ultimately, only you know your boundaries and limits. So, take time to assess and recalibate your personal time. Learn how much money is required to make you happy and content, whether that’s full-time work, part-time work, hobby income or no income at all (if retired). Your work may be very valuable today but your personal, long-term wellbeing is your most vital, capital asset by a long shot.
Further Reading: Reader Questions to Me – Saving and Investing Updates.
I think any manager or management team that truly understands that employee engagement is far more than employee check-ins, will avoid teams/employees that succumb to quiet quitting. Otherwise, maybe that job you have is not the right one for you at this time in your life anyhow…and that’s OK too.
What do you make of the quiet quitting phenomena? Are you feeling it yourself? Share in a comment below.
More Weekend Reading…
Interesting chart from the Twitter machine this week:
Maria from a Handful of Thoughts highlighted the “typical Canadian”.
That included, according to her findings:
“Not including mortgage debt, in 2020 the average Canadian owed $23,237. And if we assume a 5% interest rate and payments over 5 years, this translates to a debt repayment amount of about $439 every month.”
Kudos from Melissa at Our Life Financial!
“August is one of our lowest paying months and it’s tough to go from a high of $4,252.97 in July to a low of $1,546.97 in August. That’s quite a difference. Perhaps I should add more shares of BMO and RY to boost my income?
- Total dividends received for August 2022 $1,546.97
- This is an increase of almost 28% YoY (August 2021 vs August 2022)
- The total received YTD is $23,422.24
- This means we’ve reached almost 67% of our $35,000 year-end goal”
The Dividend Guy discussed paying down debt or investing this week.
Mike and I are very much aligned, when it comes to the RRSP-loan. Don’t do it.
I liked Mike’s three points to consider, when it comes to debt management vs. investing:
- Consider your personal situation, comfort-level with debt.
- Consider the total costs of your debt, and ability to pay for it.
- Consider the opportunity costs associated with debt vs. investing.
This was my definitive answer to the subject:
The definitive answer to paying down your mortgage or investing
Here are no less than 92 lessons from Mr. 92: Warren Buffett thanks to Dividend Growth Investor.
Dale Roberts from Cut The Crap Investing has some real estate affordability information to check out.
Over at Cashflows & Portfolios we discussed how to use Beat the TSX (BTSX) stocks to juice your retirement income – with some caution!
For additional reading, check out some of my recent retirement income case studies:
See my case studies including how much you need to retire on $6,000 per month here.
Have a great weekend!
This is nothing new. It’s also depends on the nature of job, if it is commission based or salary can somewhat adjusted due to inflation (at least a little), it’s easier for management to keep employee motivated. Otherwise, I see employees just quiet quitting and look for better jobs to battle inflation.
Maybe, Rabbit. So, do you think inflation might be the main driver here? Moonlighting jobs is nothing new really, we just seem to make up new terms for these things over time 🙂
It just one of many reasons that couldn’t keep good hardworking employees in my office.
Well, you have to do what is best for you and your organization at the end of the day. So do employees. Time for both parties to reflect is usually valuable.
So much to unpack here.
For the most part, “Quiet Quitting” is “work to rule”, or doing only what the job description says. Nothing more, nothing less. I cringe when it’s suggested Quiet Quitting is an act of laziness or poor employee attitude (of their own accord). Over the course of my 30+ year career, about half of which has been in a managerial role, I acknowledge I have supervised some employees who “checked out” – doing less than their job description. They didn’t need Tiktok. Employees taking advantage of employers is no older than employers taking advantage of employees.
I believe it boils down to workplace culture – employee engagement. I have been an enthusiastic member of employee engagement committees throughout my career both as staff and as management’s and when it’s done right there is alignment and productivity is trending high. When it’s done poorly, morale suffers, interest in doing the best job possible wanes, and employees gripe.
In terms of employee engagement, the work from home approach presented serious challenges to a well run employee engagement program. My current employer’s efforts have suffered with respect to employee engagement, but with the commencement of activity returning to the office they are definitely reinvigorated to improve in this area. I think they would also acknowledge they were unprepared (understandably) on how to promote engagement in a work from home environment. They are also taking steps to improve engagement for the remote teams.
Quiet Quitting, or as I prefer to call it poor employee engagement, is in many cases a reflection of management. If I was managing employees that I suspected of quiet quitting the first place I’d have to look is in the mirror. What actions am I taking, or not taking, to contribute to the lack of engagement, and what opportunities are there for me to make a difference?
I don’t thing Quiet Quitting is all that new, but I do think COVID introduced remote work capabilities and employee engagement suffered greatly as a result. Hopefully employers like mine will prevail and look for ways to motivate, inspire and engage their staff as the trend back to more traditional work environments continues but also find ways to better engage employees who are able to continue in a work from home role (which is certainly my preference).
This article on a U.S. study was a great read on the topic.
It’s one perspective; one study but I think there is merit to the findings.
Thankfully, in many ways, COVID has blown-apart traditional ways of working. If I can’t see you, you can’t be trusted and you’re not working. I had a recent senior manager tell me this. Bonkers.
I think you hit the nail on the head for me. It’s all about EX/Employee Engagement. If you’re not engaged at work, regardless of what you do, you might just check out.
I have been a manager for years, and not; had direct reports, had indirect/matrixed reports and I can say with a fact that engaged employees are not as likely to check out. So, there are two key parties involved here:
1. Management ensuring there is always motivation and a fit for the employee.
2. Employees ensuring there is always a fit for them.
When #1 or #2 get out of sync, there are issues. It happens. Especially as workers age and mature.
Working from home for many has only amplified this fact. You can have disengaged employees and management really, anywhere. It’s more difficult to see that behind a screen.
Thanks for your insightful comments.
I for one am extremely thankful for the opportunity to perform my job from home. Previously I commuted weekly by car for 5 hours (each way) to a cross-border site where I was embedded for over two years (leaving Sundays, returning Thursdays or Fridays). My employer did right by me by accruing lieu time for all those Sundays of travel, that was not the case with former employers.
That work continued successfully through COVID remotely with MS Teams. We’ve all proven how well we can work together under these new conditions. But, we’ve had to find innovative ways to include ‘EX’ as part of the culture – both for my Canadian employer, and my client team in the U.S.
Rising to the challenge makes it better for everyone involved and I hope to be grateful for the continued opportunity to work from home (but my E1 Visa just got renewed, so sooner or later I’ll be back on the road…..)
Great stuff, James.
I would agree, it’s a totally different “EX” at home vs. workplace/on site. The more that management recognizes this and supports these environments and dynamics, for their workers, the better IMO.
I’m also thankful to work from home. My current team is very supportive of that.
Quite quitting reminds me of the Dire Straits song ” Money for Nothing”. The lyric, “That ain’t workin’, that’s the way you do it
Money for nothin’ and your chicks for free”. I saw that attitude in the younger generation of workers every day in my government job, and it was a competition as to who could do the least amount of work. How pathetic. And by the way, the Unions and their leaders supported them.
Definitely a dangerous path to go down, Sal! Thanks for your comments.
This is nothing new and it’s clearly an in-group vs. out-group situation. Employers vs. employees. Employers want the most work completed for the least amount of dollars. That maximizes profits, and it’s nothing new. The biggest game changer is/was the pandemic. It showed everyone in the workforce (who could work from home – not everyone could) what work could be like. That there was actually a way to achieve a better work/life balance. Namely, that means hybrid or remote work.
However, the younger generations would naturally embrace technology more and desire a remote work situation. I know I’m touching on another issue here but I think this is one reason why more employees feel empowered to search for better. Whether it means less burnout, or more days working from home.
The employers have set up a system where they can incentivize people to work long hours in return for the offer or possibility of a promotion (aka more dollars at some point in the future). That competition is enough to keep those who want to achieve more working on weekends. Sure it might be a choice for them, but there are lower-paid employees trying to impress or just trying to hang on to their jobs that face the same weeknight/weekday demands because of the “culture”.
I think Ian (above) said it best. Most employees are complicit with being taken for a ride by their employers because they have a debt-backed lifestyle, so they have to “stay the course” and work in conditions that are sub-optimal. Which could lead to the feelings that make you want to “quiet quit”. I don’t know if this is a “fad” or if it’s an actual shift in the mindset of more employees.
The other thing we should be all aware of is that the youngest generations are being squeezed more than any generation before. Global competition for jobs here and abroad, the higher cost of living, and the difficulty to find a job in their field (this one I’m using anecdotal evidence – so this is far from being something that can be generalized). If you’re working in a field that you don’t have an interest in, then naturally most will “mail it in”, because they are bored.
Thanks for your detailed comment.
Yes, employers tend to favour productivity and profits over employees’ needs and wants. Nothing new here. The challenge I see going forward is there is a creation of a culture whereby it’s OK to be mentally checked out. And, let’s not forget, the work-from-home option is a privilege. There is only a better/balanced way to work from home if you have the option to do so.
Less burnout is of course, very good. Mental wellness is also, of course, very good.
But I’m not sure supporting or propagating a culture of “quiet quitting” is helpful. Do the work you are compensated to do, do it well, and go home and/or move on to other valuable time in your life.
If an employer is forcing/encouraging you to work beyond your means, have the talk, determine your own tolerance for work; upskill and/or change jobs to the extent you can. Just getting by and doing any work half-assed is not helping anyone in the long-run.
Do you think the whole thing is overblown then? We can both find some common ground that this has been around a long time, it’s only been given a name now.
You raise a good point about work-from-home. I think there’s definitely a point to be made for both sides. You should do the work you’re compensated to do. A worker may do it well as you say. Or that person might decide to do the minimum viable amount of work without being fired.
I think “quiet quitting” is really just a projection of what the reader believes about their own job. If you’re satisfied at work with the challenge of the role, the culture, and compensation you will view “quiet quitting” more as laziness. If you’re dissatisfied at work then you’re likely to find this an acceptable way to act.
It’s not always easy to find another job, especially for younger or low-income workers. This is why they may “quiet quit” more than say a white-collar worker. Anyhow thanks for the discussion and great article! Have a great day.
Correct, Dreamy. This is likely just another marketing/spin-term.
Whether it’s work from home, at the site, travel for work, other – you need to be fairly compensated for the work you do and nothing more. Meet expectations, both parties must agree, get paid/compensated, and enjoy the rest of your life.
The whole term speaks to me to some form of laziness. If so, management must step-in. It’s not rocket science.
Thanks for the discussion back! 🙂
I wonder if “quiet quitting” could have also been applied to those who would rather sit home and collect CERB when plenty of work was available. It’s not just employers who are abusing the system.
Humm, maybe. I think abuse is bad on either side personally!
Would the rise of Unions be the “not so quiet quitting” of your great grandparents generation. They were the same age as the millennials now being attacked for being lazy over taking action against profiteering and capitalism at the expense of the workforce.
I welcome it and it is a collective yet individual action to bring attention to companies that they can’t continue to push people beyond what is acceptable. If you want a person who works 24/7/365 then make that extremely clear and have a pay that reflects it. Don’t expect to keep getting away with asking (even demanding) more from employees of their time outside of scope and getting away with it. There needs to be a fair transaction of pay vs time and thankfully the discussion is on the table.
More power to them ( ** I was a regional manager in my career in a demanding industry and now own a small business that employs several currently)
Millennials have a lot of expecatations, at least some of them, Chris. New phones, cars, houses, etc. in their 20s seems to be the norm/expectation. I don’t think they understand (some of them) how good they have it now – modern capitalism has been good to their parents (incredibly good) and there is an expectation the next generation should have it just as good or better. It doesn’t work that way I don’t believe.
I’m all fine for leaving any work that is not fair. No concerns there, I support that. There are bad employers and bad employees. I just worry trying to get by your day with the bare minimum and mentally checking out of work is bad for both parties (employees and employers) long-term.
As a 20 something in the 90s I wanted things as well, I bought a house and a car and whatever toys I could with my wages. I don’t think that has changed at all and this generation is doing just the same as we did. Heck I think it is because the prior generations went and got everything and then told them they could/should have it all as well. I am around a lot of young adults in their 20s from the organizations I am involved with, our store/industry and of course I have two 20 something kids… I don’t see any selfishness in them, just a felling of futility in the future.
That’s fair, Chris, but I also see lots of 20-somethings wanting a forever home, new cars, etc. That makes no sense to me unless you have the income to afford it. I was only happy to have a older, used car in my 20s, and a decent paying job. I wasn’t going out for dinner often like I see many 20-somethings do. You can’t have it all unless you have a higher income to support it. That’s part of the disconnect I see. Not every 20-something is like this, of course. But I see enough of it.
Something has to give to make it all work.
There is a huge difference between us at our ages and the young adults today….they are constantly being bombarded by social media, advertising, news and society in general that they must have these things and must buy these things. Add in a radically different banking system that is digital and access to credit being served up on a platter as banks try to make profit is insane, almost like a drug dealer. When I was graduating high school we still use the old school swipe imprinting credit card machines, barely were bank machines around and I wasn’t targeted by an AI algorithm.
Lots to consider wearing someone else’s shoes
Yes, lots of consumerism now, Chris. That’s part of the issue. You need to be savvy to fight against it; lots of things are a big marketing machine. Adults too.
It’s not just corporations . Government does the same thing. The health care sector is a prime example where we were asked to do more and more with less and less. Including less income, relatively speaking. And now we are seeing the effects of burnout.
One was always expected to do more and stay late, because the need is there.. But not getting any extra remuneration.
My sister found the situation similar working for government regarding childcare licensing. Not enough hours in the day to do all the work. Even though she stayed till 7 pm and worked weekends.
The toxic work culture is a byproduct of consumerism. So much debt and desire of things that are not needed.
Debt makes people less flexible with their job pathways and therefore less likely to complain.
In health care there is no promise of anything better. Just an expectation to do more….and more….with less.
It’s time to pay attention to quality of life. But that shouldn’t mean discarding work ethic. A balance needs to be struck.
Those that are quietly quitting are poisoning the well. Not standing for anything. Perhaps promoting a 4 day work week or flex time would make people more productive while helping with the work life balance.
Watch the movie “Office Space” for a commentary about this. Funny and Canadian by Mike Judge of Beavis and Butthead.
“One was always expected to do more and stay late, because the need is there.. But not getting any extra remuneration.”
I see that. I don’t blame some workers who are challenging some employers for lack of remueration but I would worry we have a generation of workers that are allergic to working hard and delivering on their jobs.
I also believe consumerism is taking over most people’s lives.
So, a good balance is helpful and necessary.
Thanks for your comment!
I don’t like the term quiet quitting, a lot of people are just doing their job, and it’s not just younger people. I’m 50ish and over the course of my adult life I’ve seen more and more examples of companies taking liberties with their employees. It’s a contract – we do a job that a company needs doing, they pay us money for doing it. It is not acceptable for companies to treat people like they own their lives. The expectation to go above and beyond all the time is a scam so that corporations get work done for free. And they achieved this by creating the corporate culture nonsense to make employees feel like they were a part of a wider family, so they would feel more inclined to give up their evenings and weekends. But loyalty to a company often comes with a slap in the face come redundancy time. And discussing your concerns with your manager is likely to put you at the front of the line for job cuts. I’ve worked for many companies over the years and very few actually go above and beyond for their employees, so why should we do that for them?
As for people doing as little as possible, that’s just called “slacking off”. It’s nothing new. Just as some companies want people to do extra work for nothing, some people will always try and get money for doing nothing.
“It is not acceptable for companies to treat people like they own their lives.”
Totally agree. But, I would think there is an expectation to work hard, deliver and be compensated for any hard work. Not just complain.
If a company is asking you to work weekends, and that’s not really in the job description, I fully support that.
Thanks for your comments,
I think we’re totally on the same page on quiet quitting Mark.
I worked for someone or for myself FT for approx 35 years, always in a pay for performance role. I found giving more than what was asked of me worked excellent because it gave me tremendous satisfaction and it was mostly financially rewarding. There were times when some abused that but not often and I continually focused on establishing a high work ethic standard for myself and my team regardless. I liked my work, and I like to work hard. This approach most often came back to benefit me. I realize I may be an outlier here.
I also agree on what you and Mike said on RRSP loans. Nah. We’re entering a rate era where loans may not work as well for investing.
Ya, I would expect employers to treat workers fairly, and workers to work hard and be compensated accordingly.
I think a high work ethic is an important value – I don’t see some of that today – with more consumerism and the desire to live a life that might be beyond one’s means. I’m not saying some corporate cultures don’t need fixing. I just think mentally checking out in any job means it’s time for a change by both parties involved.
Thanks for your comment! Rates are going higher for good reason if some are paying attention. Ha.
Good comment. Well said.
Higher rates. Fine here.
Yes, happy to see rates go up a bit, the free money thing is bad!
Quiet quitting is an unfortunate name for this but is fair. I am in my 50s and enjoy my work but there are limits. Many employers expect employees to do many tasks for free, go above and beyond. This movement, I think, is about setting boundaries and doing just your job. If an employer wants more then find ways to compensate it. Why should an employee make a sacrifice to ensure their employer comes out ahead. It should be a partnership.
Ya, I don’t like the term either, Joe! I think workers should be compensated accordingly for their work, sometimes work is required “above and beyond” and sometimes it’s not. If most workers set personal boundaries and they were agreed upon with the employer, and monitored with management over time, I’m not sure you’d have this trend at all. As you say, partnership.
I’m sorry but I deal with government agencies every day and it is not very efficient. Emails take many days or weeks to be completed . And if working from home is what everyone wants , why is working from home mean the suburbs not a organization overseas . I remember when call centers were in Canada? Be very careful what you ask for . Just my opinion
I don’t want to just work from home and not the government at all, Jp. Sorry if that’s what you took away from my post?