Aug 17, 2022 - Economy

The anti-work movement

Illustration of a briefcase with an on off switch

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

Here’s a twist on the post-COVID, work-from-anywhere phenomenon: There’s a rising "get-paid-don’t-work" movement on social media.

  • Why it matters: With employers grappling with people working from home and a tight talent market, they now face what the Wall Street Journal calls “quiet quitting.”

What's happening: This is a rebellion against the "rise and grind" ethos.

  • The rising approach is to work to live, instead of live to work. Don't leave your job — but focus on fun, fulfilling activities outside of work while staying on the payroll.

This is far easier when you're working remotely, and there's no pressure to show your face at the office from 9 to 5 — or longer.

  • Some workers are even using the extra time to get multiple jobs, realizing that remote work means they can be mediocre at two jobs instead of good at one, the Journal reports.

The big picture: This "quiet quitting" trend — which is playing out among younger workers on Instagram and TikTok — is starkly visible in Gallup's latest polling on worker engagement.

  • Just 31% of workers born after 1989 — Gen Z and younger millennials — say they're "engaged" at work.
  • And they're far less likely than their older counterparts to feel their work has a purpose.

Our thought bubble: We're seeing the effects of longer-term distributed work on the next generation of employees. Younger workers are craving mentorship and camaraderie they're not getting from the new world of work — so they're disengaging.

Reality check: Don't glorify the grind. Boosting engagement among younger workers doesn't equate to eroding their work-life balance and demanding more online hours. That'll turn the quiet quitters into real quitters.

  • If CEOs and managers take away flexibility, workers will bolt.
  • Instead, leaders need to communicate better why their mission matters, check in with employees, and figure out how to export company culture via Zoom.

Go deeper: "Your office, forever changed."

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