Quiet Quitting: Why the younger generation is changing how they work

Quiet Quitting: Why the younger generation is changing how they work

Ever since the pandemic, the world of work has been changing. From adapting to working from home to incorporating hybrid working or even being back at the office full time, how we work has had to adjust to the changing world situation. How and why people work has also taken centre stage and the younger workforce has been making their thoughts around work very clear. Chandré, our graphic designer tells us more about the new trend of ‘quiet quitting’ and what it could mean for the future of work.

What is Quiet Quitting?

I was born in 1995, somewhere between the younger end of the Millenials and the older end of Gen Z, so I’ve been fortunate enough to witness the noticeable changes in internet culture and how these translate into RL (real life). In the last few months, my TikTok ‘for you’ page has been filled with people around my age talking about how they were quitting hustle culture, girl bossing and everything in between. And in the middle of these videos, the trend of ‘Quiet Quitting’ emerged. Quiet Quitting refers to giving just the bare minimum to your job. No putting in extra hours, no going above and beyond, and as one person on TikTok put it, “acting your wage”.

So why “act your wage”?

From what I’ve seen, many people are tired, burnt out and feeling hopeless. In South Africa, our unemployment rate is at a staggering 63,9% for those aged 15-24 and 42,1% for those aged 25-34 years, while the current official national rate stands at 34,5%. There are many highly qualified people unable to find jobs and those stuck in jobs that do not pay them a livable wage. Yet, CEOs and corrupt governments get to stuff their faces and the average citizen struggles. The future doesn’t look promising for many of us unless you have the privilege to find a job overseas or manage to land a job that is willing to give you a liveable salary, your options seem bleak.

For many, jobs just don’t seem all that worth it anymore. And it’s not laziness, it’s the reality that many young people are battling anxiety, depression, a cost of living crisis, living during a pandemic and still trying to build themselves a future. When you’re going through these difficulties of life, it really shows you who is there for you, including the company you work for. More and more people are finding that all their years of hard work and service doesn’t guarantee the company caring about them as a person nor does it guarantee that they’d be paid what they deserve. People are overworked, underpaid and undervalued. And when there’s no option to just walk out of a job straight into another one, we may see more people checking out mentally instead.

Questioning the system

Personally, I think that certain circumstances push you to behave a certain way. If someone is unhappy in their job, their actions will eventually display that, after all, why give your all if you’re receiving nothing back? I think that with change comes questions and the pandemic caused many of us to question whether work is our entire life or just a part of it. So things like quiet quitting, “The Great Resignation” and more people moving toward self-employment will naturally happen as people try to find that work-life balance. And no, I don’t think that my generation is lazy. I think we’re sick of being left with broken systems, and in order to iron out the kinks, we are going to need to see what works and what doesn’t.

So, how can companies better aid their workers? Through listening to my fellow Millennials and Gen Zers, many just want to earn a livable wage and be treated like a person. That’s it. No magic formula or answer. You get people to give good effort in their jobs if you are able to reward that proportionally. If you want happier, more engaged, more creative and more involved employees you have to do more than just pay them, they need to feel valued and respected. Otherwise, you’ll never have people acting more than their wage.

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