What is ‘silent resignation’: the trend that triumphs among young people to put an end to discomfort at work

  • “Silent quitting” means taking your job seriously enough that you won’t be fired and still be able to have a fulfilling life outside of work.

  • The proposal appeared a few months ago on social networks as a solution to the deep disaffection with work of thousands of young people around the world

  • Phenomena such as the “silent resignation” or the “great dissolution of work” tell us about the need to transform the current work culture

quiet stop This is what we call this phenomenon in the Anglo-Saxon world. The “silent resignation”, as it is called in Spanish, refers to the increasingly widespread practice of take the job seriously enough not to be fired and maintain a minimum involvement that allows worker leads a meaningful and fulfilling life outside of work.

Giving up quietly would be something like putting into practice a way of life more in line with the idea of ​​”working to be able to live”instead of the so harmful and detrimental to physical and mental health “living to work”, which has become so widespread over the last 20 years.

What is undeniable is that over the past two decades we have seen the flowering of a overworked culture everywhere in the world where, for example, unpaid overtime has become something workers are simply expected to do.

To this must be added the great disaffection of workers caused by the last recessions and the pandemic: millennials and generation Z in particular they did not have the same job opportunities and the financial security his parents had, explains Nilufar Ahmed, professor of social sciences at the University of Bristol in this article from The Conversation.

“Many young workers who expected a relatively easy progression in the life, they faced precarious contracts, job uncertainty and failed attempts to buy a home. There are those who constantly work overtime and go above and beyond to try to secure promotions and bonusesbut even so they encounter obstacles.

The cause of discomfort at work: Disengagement

The sociologist Fernando Vidal highlighted in this NIUS interview that the overly utilitarian view of work has produced in the last decades among the workers another phenomenon which is the so-called disengagement“the progressive disaffection of workers about their businesses. Today, he says, “virtually all companies say their biggest problem is lack of commitment of their workers.

According Vidal This is due to the fact The paradigm in force today is that of the complete instrumentalization of work and the functional and utilitarian view of work; “Today, you work at Carrefour and what do you pass on to your children? East macdonaldization jobs has led to a very serious… but terribly serious problem, which is not only disaffection with companies, it is disaffection with society itself”.

However, this was not the case before. only a few decades agopeople lived their work as authentic life projectsexplains the sociologist:There was a strong work ethic you were a worker and you worked in a foundry or you were a doctor. Really, work connected you to society and connected your vocation – which was a very important word – to the purpose of your life and practically our parents were in organizations where they worked all their lives, so there was a huge identification. Work had absolute value and deserved a lifetime, sure. They were almost places of holiness, places of good, of fulfillment”.

now add Vidal, the evaluation that we ourselves make of our own work is not based on our performance or the contributory value that our profession has in society, but depending on the economic performance we produce: how much you earn, how many vouchers.

A phenomenon that affects the youngest

Work has ceased to be a source of value and a source of meaning in life Yes are the young From now on, those who suffer the most from the consequences of this instrumentalization of work.

It is logical that the phenomenon of “silent resignation” has started to become popular in social networks like TikTok especially among Gen Z, as explained Nilfar Ahmad.

last July the concept of “quiet quitting” went viral thanks to the video made by @zkchillin with the hashtag #quietquitting. Many users have shared their own experiences. “Silent resignation is not giving up work but giving up the idea of ​​living by and for work,” @zkchillin says in the video.

A possible solution to the “great jobs rout”

From a practical point of view, “quiet resignation” could well be the solution, or at least an alternative, to another phenomenon related to the world of work that worries employers since the start of the pandemic: the “great jobs rout”.

The concept The big resignation was first used by the Professor at the University of Texas and expert in organizational psychology, Anthony Klotz, to describe a global trend in which – by 2021 – the number of people who had quit their companies had reached four million. This is the highest number recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) since it began collecting data in 2000.

When people started talking about this “great job dissolution” phenomenon, experts agreed that the pandemic and the effects that the covid era had on the mental health of millions of workers around the world, They had helped give him a boost. The great “workers’ rout” spoke of this phenomenon sociologist Alejandra Nuño in this NIUS interview. “Every week I see people, especially over 40s, with exceptional disaffection, really. In the same way, I’m starting to get a lot of good examples of people deciding to combine different work alternatives, and what strikes me is that they’re losing their fear. I’m talking about people I know, big-name managers who hit their 40s and say, look, I’m leaving. I’m going to work in this company for 4 hours, I combine it with courses at IE, and I also have two projects… and that way I’m happier”

If for 40-somethings the solution to unhappiness at work was literally to quit, Generation Z now surprises us with a reinterpretation of possible solutions to job dissatisfaction. “You don’t have to quit your job, just quit quietly.” It means getting involved – physically and emotionally – just enough to comply with what is required in the contract and give up the utopia that you can be happy or fulfilled at work.

better for everyone

“Working at minimum capacity may seem strange. But you (and your employer) don’t have to fear the “silent resignation”. In fact, it could be good for both of us.” Nilfar Ahmad.

This has a lot to do with the idea already demonstrated by dozens of surveys on that happier employees are more productive (in terms of quality, not exclusively quantity) and they are more committed. Thus, on the part of companies, failure to interpret this “silent resignation” as something negative could contribute to the well-being of workers and, ultimately, improve the objectives of the company.

Businesses can’t turn their backs on the reality that work is more stressful that of satisfaction and happiness. In a 2021 Glassdoor survey of 2,017 UK workers, half of respondents said they felt a great lack of balance between work and personal life.

It is good that initiatives are born from the workers themselves – whether individual or collective – in the face of this problem of worker disaffection, but the experts insist on the fact that businesses and governments must also take responsibility and transform, as the sociologist points out Alejandra Nuno. “It is time to encourage social changes, a new governance of life that promotes consistency of functioning with the human, with the emotional, and why not, with a real quality of life at the professional level. And for that, we must promote new work formats that encourage freedom, that fill individuals with hope, humanize their existence, that offer them possibilities of choice”.


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