Bartleby is back, though he would undoubtedly prefer not to be. This time around, reluctant Wall Street writer Herman Melville is back in the form of TikTokers who chose “quietly.”
Instead of working out a late Friday night, organizing the annual team-building trip to Slough, or volunteering to mentor the president’s teen on an internship, quiet dropouts avoid excessive, rational thinking, a bustle mentality or what “professional” psychologists call “civic behaviour.”
Instead, they do enough in the office to keep up, then leave work on time and mute Slack. Then post about it on social media.
An increase in quiet calm is associated with a significant decrease in job satisfaction, said Maria Cordovic, associate professor of organizational behavior at the University of Nottingham and director of the Center for Interprofessional Teaching and Learning.
Gallup’s World Jobs Report 2022 showed that only 9% of UK workers were engaged or enthusiastic about their jobs, ranking 33rd out of 38 European countries. The NHS staff survey, conducted in autumn 2021, showed morale had fallen from 10 to 5.8 from 6.1 and staff engagement had fallen from 7.0 to 6.8.
“Since the pandemic, people’s relationship to work has been studied in a variety of ways, and the literature across occupations usually argues that the way people approach their work has changed,” Cordovic said.
TikTok’s posts about silent quitting may have been inspired by Chinese social media: #TangPing, or lying flat, is a now-censored hashtag that appears to have been sparked by China’s shrinking workforce and long work culture.
Cordovic added, “The search for meaning became more and more evident. There was a sense of our own mortality during a pandemic, something quite existential when people thought, ‘What should work mean to me?’” How can I play a role more in line with my values?
“I think this has to do with perhaps the more negative elements of quitting quietly: mental scrutiny from the job, overwork from workload, and the lack of work-life balance many of us have faced during the pandemic.
But I think this can lead to less job satisfaction, a lack of enthusiasm and less engagement. So we can compare ‘quiet surrender’ with ‘grand resignation’. Do we stay seated but turn off? Or are we heading towards something? “
The term “big resignation” was coined by Anthony Klotts, associate professor of management at University College London, in May 2021 when he predicted American workers would walk out of their jobs, fueled by burnout and a taste of freedom to work from home.
Instead, Harvard Business School’s Ranjay Gulati called it a “big shift” in which people evaluate their lives and their choices: people like Natalie Ormond. “I ended my 14-year career in social work last September,” she said. “I wasn’t motivated to climb the ladder and felt like I was lethargic – not doing the bare minimum, just doing my job and not going too far.”
Ormond decided to start her own business, Small Kind, selling eco-friendly children’s toys and clothing, and kept her job to build savings. “In the end I felt like I had a mental exam, which came up with some guilt.”
Others fulfilled their ambition and realized that it wasn’t what they were looking for.
Amy Jones started her career in marketing, and in 2017 became the director of communications for a non-profit organization. “It was my dream job,” she says. “It seems strange to say that now. But I wanted this position, status, and salary. I was really willing to try.” I kept getting calls on weekends, on vacation, at 10:30 p.m., arriving early and leaving late to keep up with her colleagues.
“I was moving through everything,” she said, until her best friend from college told her she was cutting back to three days a week. “It’s horrible, but I was a little biased,” Jones said. “We have to climb the career ladder together. But she said, ‘My preoccupation does not match my value.’ And it blew my mind.” Within 18 months, she left Jones to start her business with Kind Kids Book Club.
The “quiet pause” may have been around a while ago – after all, Melville Bartleby invented it in 1853, and even the Bible says God needed a seventh-day break. More recently, tech companies have capitalized on responding to the Gordon Gekko-inspired long-hour culture by creating more casual work environments with colorful offices, free food and beverages, and corporate merchandise embedded in a letter of mission and purpose.
But this can mask other problems. Dan Lyons, a former tech journalist, mocked his short stint at HubSpot, which describes itself as an in-house marketing company that creates valuable content, but which Lyons calls an “inexpensive digital company” in his book deranged.
Dr. said. Ashley Weinberg, an occupational psychologist at the University of Salford.
Enlightened companies design workplaces that give employees control, pride in their work, and a fair pay, but these efforts are eroded by the cost-of-living crisis, and workers end up feeling understaffed. “People talk about money, which is important, but then, they want to be respected and appreciated in some way for what they do,” Weinberg said.