Podcast: The Quiet Quitting Quagmire

By now you’ve probably heard about “quiet quitting,” the latest workplace trend to blow the minds of journalists and social media posters alike. This stunning act of rebellion involves employees doing the work they are paid to do. Seriously. That’s what quiet quitting is. It’s neither quiet nor quitting, but it’s a movement nonetheless.

The hoopla, of course, is about what these mutinous workers are NOT doing. They’re not making charitable donations of their time and energy to their employers. They’re not responding to work emails at their kids’ birthday parties. They’re not spending extra (unpaid) hours in the office as a matter of course. They’re not viewing the contents of their job descriptions as “the bare minimum.”

And so, in solidarity with this movement, we present a stripped-down, “bare minimum” deep-dive into quiet quitting.

Articles and Books Discussed in this Episode:

What Is Quiet Quitting on TikTok?

If Your Co-Workers Are ‘Quiet Quitting,’ Here’s What That Means

Quiet Quitting: Why Doing the Bare Minimum at Work Has Gone Global

Employees Say ‘Quiet Quitting’ Is Just Setting Boundaries. Companies Fear Long-Term Effects

A Look at ‘Quiet Quitting’ — and Whether It’s a Good or Bad Thing

The Backlash to Quiet Quitting Smacks of Another Attempt by the Ruling Class to Get Workers Back Under Their Thumbs: Am I Wrong?

Tessa West: Jerks at Work: Toxic Coworkers and What to Do About Them

Episode Transcript

Frank Butler  0:17
Hello Busybodies, welcome to another episode of the Busyness Paradox. I’m Frank Butler here with Paul Harvey.

Paul Harvey  0:23
Good day.

Frank Butler  0:24
Good day, Paul. Before we get started, I’m going to play you a little sound clip. And I want you to guess what you think today’s episode will be about.

Paul Harvey  0:33

Audio Clip  0:33
We need to talk. Do you know what this is about? My flair? Yeah. Or your lack of flair? Because I’m counting and I only see 15 pieces. Let me ask you a question. Joanna. What do you think of a person who only does the bare minimum?

Paul Harvey  0:55
I remember that scene. Like I saw it yesterday. So as I recall that’s Jennifer Aniston being dressed down by her boss for not wearing enough buttons, aka flair on her uniform. So I’m gonna guess that our episode topic is an announcement that we are releasing our line of business paradox buttons and flare

Frank Butler  1:17
Oh, man, no, I wish. But that’s a great idea, we probably need to invest in some now thanks.

Paul Harvey  1:26
Well, then I’m going to guess it had something to do with going quote unquote, above and beyond which in the academic world we like to call organizational citizenship behaviors, or OCBs, the things that are outside of your job description, but it’s nice if you do them that helps your co workers or helps the organization overall perform at a higher level. How am I doing there? Am I Am I getting closer?

Frank Butler  1:53
You are very warm and I think there’s a lot of overlap between the topic today and OCBs, which is why I think that little sound clip works so well. And the topic is quite quitting, which is something that started on Tik Tok, just like a couple of months ago, and has become all the rage right now.

Paul Harvey  2:12
So to clarify, I guess it didn’t start on tik tok, but it’s…it became a thing on tick tock.

Frank Butler  2:19
It became a thing.

Paul Harvey  2:20

Frank Butler  2:21
It…the term emerged on a viral Tiktok video.

Paul Harvey  2:25
So how are we going to define this quiet quitting?

Frank Butler  2:28
Well, you know, I think what’s interesting, and just to throw this out there, there’s already a Wikipedia post on quiet quitting, which shows you how fast it goes. They talk about it’s not actually quitting, right. I think that’s the misnomer to it is that it’s not like quitting. But this one is about doing exactly what the job requires, right? So sticking to what you find in the job description,

Paul Harvey  2:51
So doing what you’re paid to do

Frank Butler  2:53
Doing what you’re paid to do. Exactly. And that’s why I think it’s so akin to this idea of OCB, or organizational citizenship behaviors that you just discussed,

Paul Harvey  3:02
in which case, that office space clip that you played truly is perfect. Because as that scene goes on, she’s basically saying like, okay, so you want me to wear more than 15 pieces of flair, he’s like, what? Well, now Now, now, that’s the minimum, do you want to be the person does the minimum, so it’s this simultaneous, like the bar is set here, but the real bar is set up here somewhere.

Frank Butler  3:24
That’s right.

Paul Harvey  3:24
And so we’ve gotten so accustomed to a job, just having this expectation of extra stuff bundled into it outside the job description outside the 40 hour structure, that it is, for all intents and purposes, part of the job, just not recognized as such.

Frank Butler  3:39

Paul Harvey  3:39
And so not doing that is doing your job, basically, which is what we’ve been talking about on the show for going on two years now that so much of the quote unquote busyness of the world, whether it’s driven by the desire to look busy, or that legitimate demands, so much of it falls outside of what people are actually being paid to do is stupid.

Frank Butler  4:01
And I think that is what’s so important to recognize. I mean, we’ve seen it time and time again, we’ve heard stories about it. I mean, I know there’s some of us who are, who have an inability to say no to things sometimes. So they’ll agree to do something, which isn’t something they are paid for, but they think they’re doing it in the spirit of making, you know, the organization look better, or because they think it’s the right thing to do, which is great, or to make themselves look better. I mean, there’s, there’s can be some personal motivations, too. But I mean, broadly, the general idea is that we’re being asked to do things, and it’s sort of, as you already had mentioned, becomes almost sort of this expectation to do extra, even though that’s not what the job description says, or what you were hired to do, or whatever it may be.

Paul Harvey  4:49
What you’re literally paid to do,

Frank Butler  4:51
Right. I know for example, my wife even in her previous job, she was asked to do some things that were no longer part of her job description, and she did them because there was a promise of promotion. And that actually kept being dragged out like a dangling carrot. But there was never any closure to that. And so that’s another concern, too. It’s like, “Hey, if you want me to do more, you need to align the incentives for me to do that.” You can’t just promise something and not deliver, because that’s going to have its own repercussions, right?

Paul Harvey  5:23
Kind of killing the golden goose situation, yeah, where the prospect of future promotions, recognition for this extra work you’re doing has always been an incentive for going above and beyond the job description. But it’s been dangled out there as this proverbial carrot on the stick that you never quite reached for so long by so many companies now that its motivational. Impact has become almost more punitive. Like, if you’re not going above and beyond, not only will you not be the rising star who gets promoted, but other unpleasant things might come your way, you know, maybe the, I don’t know, the, the less choice assignments or clients start getting handed to you, you know, your work, life becomes more miserable, because you’re not doing far above and beyond what you’re being paid to do.

Frank Butler  6:10
Or you’re doing all of these things. And there’s no incentive for it, for example. I mean, there’s been numerous articles on this. And one of them I came across was one guy, and I’m trying to see if I have a quote here somewhere. But basically, this one guy, he said, he continued to do more and always received a meets expectation on his performance review. So then he was like, why am I doing all this extra when it’s not actually leading to maybe an exceeds expectations, which it should, right? If you’re doing beyond your job description, and you’re contributing to the mission of the company or helping your boss get things done

Paul Harvey  6:46
By definition, and that is exceeding

Frank Butler  6:48
By definition

Paul Harvey  6:49
You’re exceeding your job description, you’re exceeding expectations.

Frank Butler  6:52
By definition

Paul Harvey  6:55
I accept that that’s not your real expectations, as we, as we’ve already discussed, it’s become so baked into the mindset of not just like big evil corporations, but everybody. I’ve certainly had jobs where I kind of had that mindset to that, you know, that look at the lazy schlub over there trying to pack up and leave, after only working 10 hours today, was she, you know, without really thinking through? Like, why are we just giving away our time and chastising those who don’t.

Frank Butler  7:22
And that’s it, right, that’s something that’s important to say, or at least put out there is that it goes hand in hand. It’s the he’s meeting expectations as individuals meeting expectations, even though they’re doing more than their job description, or what they should be doing. And it becomes this sort of normative process. And actually, now that you’re mentioning this, it actually makes me start thinking about these engagement surveys, like the one that Gallup does on engagement. And it makes me wonder, what’s the what’s a 10? On 10? For engagement? What is that? Is that mean? That they’re like, over engaged, like they’re doing extreme OCBs. And a five is sort of norm like, Hey, we’re at a five five is the expectations, I don’t really know. Now that I’m looking at these kinds of numbers, what that’s really showing, all I know, is that I’m seeing that the galvus the most recent poll is showing that only 9% of workers in the UK were engaged or enthusiastic about their work. And then there’s showing that overall, morale has fallen and staff engagement has dropped. And that’s kind of universal. Right now, we’re seeing a decline in engagement. And in fact, I think something like there’s a hertz from here, it’s saying that morale has fallen from 6.1 out of 10 to 5.8. And staff engagement is dropped from seven to 6.8.

Paul Harvey  8:34
On a 10 point scale, those are those are not huge moves. But they are in the wrong direction. I guess

Frank Butler  8:40
It’s a trend, right? And I think that’s the key, right? We’re seeing these trends going on.

Paul Harvey  8:46
And there’s a lot going on that might cause that, not the least of which is this kind of uncomfortable limbo that a lot of people are in of “Are we going back to work in the office? Do we work from home? Do a little bit of both?” And there seems to be some who think that that’s what’s triggering some of this quite quitting stuff. Employees who are like, No, I don’t want to go back to the old way of doing things. So if you’re going to make me go back to the office, I’m going to do the bare minimum there, which I’m sure for some people probably is a factor. Yeah, I would absolutely think so. Right? And that would show up is engagement. And that kind of thing, too.

Frank Butler  9:19
Yes. For sure. I’m looking at here to just some other things to be mindful of that this trend is certainly happening much more than the Gen Z crowd apparently, is saying here that 54% of the people who are wanting to show up and do their job and stick to what the job description is, and the expectations of the job are from those born after 1989. that’s come out of the Gallup Poll as well. And that’s what we’re calling I guess now quiet quitting, right? So those who are not engaged, and it says here, those who will show up and do the minimum work required, but not much else. That’s something that’s important, right, the minimum work required.

Paul Harvey  9:59
Which we always frame is a bad thing, God, like the office space, you’re doing the bare minimum, like, that is literally what you’re paid to do.

Frank Butler  10:06
That’s what you’re paid to do!

Paul Harvey  10:07
Everything else is charity

Frank Butler  10:09
The societal expectations of what we’ve set now is that if you’re doing the bare minimum, that’s no longer good enough, you’re bad, you’re lazy. You know, and I keep talking about this. I know, this is sort of the discussion with some places and promotion and tenure in our field. Right? It’s like, we have this sort of nebulous aspect of what is required for promotion and tenure at a lot of universities. And there’s never any clearer picture of what the minimum is to get over that hurdle. Which is interesting, right? I mean, I know, there’s a lot of reasons for that. But

Paul Harvey  10:38
I think it’s a net good thing in our in our fields, specifically, but our field is very different from the rest of the world. And lots of people disagree with, with valid reasons. But I mean, yes, in terms of productivity and efficiency, there is gains to be made from having this nebulous, err on the side of doing more kind of mentality. And there’s, if you like a job, you’re motivated to do so by all means, go ahead and do it. It’s the extent to which it’s become baked in like the minimum is not really the minimum, the minimum is, I don’t know, 80% of what the actual minimum expectation is. But we don’t put that in writing. Because then we maybe have to, like, pay people more or something. I don’t know, I just think this whole thing shouldn’t be a thing. This quiet quitting, it’s neither quiet nor quitting. When I first heard this term, I thought it was just people not slamming the door on the way out just like quietly, literally quitting their jobs, or just kind of like sitting at their desks and just not doing anything until someone notices and does something about it. I didn’t realize it was just doing…your job.

Frank Butler  11:37
Kind of like Office gas, right? Where he didn’t do anything, right. He just…

Paul Harvey  11:40
We should just play that whole movie for this episode. Not say anything.

Frank Butler  11:44
I, when I teach organizational behavior, I make my students watch it at the end of the semester and write a report about it and how it aligns. Yeah, because it literally checks all the boxes of like. So actually, interestingly enough, and New York University social psychology professor, Tessa West, she would agree with that. Now Tessa wrote the book jerks at work, toxic workers, toxic co workers, and what to do about them. And she said that quiet quitting should generally be a healthy development. But she said it is a this is her quote, It is a misuse of a term that really means carving out boundaries. And that was in a market watch article that she interviewed for. And then you’re right, quite quitting is a misnomer. It is truly not what you would deem it to be. And I don’t know what a better term might be for it.

Paul Harvey  12:35
Working. Doing your job.

Frank Butler  12:36
I do think that…what?

Paul Harvey  12:37
Doing your actual job and not other stuff. That’s what I would call it.

Frank Butler  12:41
Well, I think the reason why quiet quitting works, though, is that it’s, it’s showing sort of a movement, right? And I think that’s what’s imperative is that they’re saying, Look, this is a thing, let’s make it a movement. Let’s make this something happening. Let’s make this you know, and it grabs you kind of like, you know, the great resignation grabbed people, even though that was a missing snippet. misnomer. And, you know, we had, we had a whole episode about that in sort of discussing how it wasn’t people just quitting their jobs and not working. And of course, then we had to do a follow up episode, that people don’t want to work, which should be, you know, out now. And that’s another one where it’s like, hey, people don’t want to work. We’re seeing all these quit. Now, that’s just not it. That’s not it. And but again, I think it’s because people can latch on to that idea of going, “Oh…”

Paul Harvey  13:24
I think what we’re seeing is just, these are just kind of society’s attempts to like assign labels and make sense of, like you said, movements, things that are happening in the world. Yes. Even though the labels are imperfect. They’re describing important thing. Sorry, I agree with you.

Frank Butler  13:39
That’s exactly what what’s going on here. Now, I do want to kind of get into some other examples. This, this comes out of, I think, a Guardian article. And it says, you know, some aspects of it are closing your laptop at 5pm, sharp, doing your eyesight and tasks and no more, spending more time with your family. And all of this is really going counter to the hustle culture that you and I have often railed against that idea too,

Paul Harvey  14:04
That’s actually a good way of putting it in terms of the contemporary narrative, that hustle culture, push back. Yeah, I agree. Because that’s for those unfamiliar with the term, the hustle culture is basically this go go go, like, always be working, just killing it every single day, which is, you know, that’s a good way to be successful. There’s nothing wrong with that. But when we’re baking that into the minimum expectations of employees, that’s where it becomes an issue.

Frank Butler  14:27
And I think that goes back to that one guy who’s like, I was doing all this extra and I was always meeting expectations. Right. So that’s what I think it is. And I think it’s a it’s an important thing. And I think this is an important lesson for companies. And I will say and Nicholas Bloom, who’s an economics professor at Stanford, again, this was in this MarketWatch article that he was interviewed for. He basically said that, quote, broadly, I think quiet quitting is more of an embarrassment for the firm’s this is happening too.

Paul Harvey  14:56
I agree.

Frank Butler  14:57
And I think Paul and I would agree with that wholeheartedly.

Paul Harvey  15:04
Well said.

Frank Butler  15:05
That’s something that again, you know, we have said it in the past, it’s oftentimes a reflection of the organization’s culture, the management that’s being done the, the way things are being incentivized. And again, this is sort of a culmination of all that these days. Right, right. And I think what’s really important to understand is the why. And that’s something that is the Wall Street Journal journal article that got into this. And the reason why we’re seeing this come up now is because of things like social media, this, this whole idea of Tik Tok and hashtags, the ability to share experiences and get out there like, hey, let’s create this momentum is easier, in some ways, right? Because now we’re seeing everybody else’s life. And I think a lot of people realize this, they watching these folks who are doing this hustle culture on social media, but they’re loaded right there and got lots of money that driving expensive cars, and they’re passing it off as like, Oh, look at my hustle culture. And oftentimes it was because they were already rich, for whatever reason.

Paul Harvey  16:03
Yeah, that’s a really good point. Yeah.

Frank Butler  16:05
And that people realizing, hey, look, I’m doing the same stuff. And I’m not, you know, I got a 5% pay raise, which was like, 1000 bucks. Yeah. And they’re still making like, $45,000. Maybe. And that’s good money. But man, I tell you what, it’s certainly not buying you that expensive car, or that trip on a yacht, or…

Paul Harvey  16:23
And maybe it’s not really justifying the amount of hours you’re putting in, if you break it down. Okay, well, what’s that workout to on a per hour basis? Maybe not so impressive. And yeah, I think that’s a really, I hadn’t thought of this before. But you know, thinking back to our corporate days, 20 plus years ago, and having these similar thoughts, and just sitting there being like, why is everyone doing this, this casual overtime, my friend, and I used to call it where you just like, the job is specifically, you know, eight to five hour for lunch, but nobody leaves five o’clock, why don’t we all do this, but there was no social media, then there was no one to like, share this, this was just something I would just sit there and puzzle about. In my own mind, if there had been a world of people having the same experience talking about it, that would have totally been a different experience for me. So you can see how this is, you know, this is not new phenomenon by any stretch, but the way that it’s being galvanized into an actual movement, and national and international conversation is pretty cool. And yeah, as much as I don’t really love to give props to social media. Gotta give props to social media on this one.

Frank Butler  17:23
Yeah, for sure. And I agree with you. And I really do thinking back in our time, you know, you didn’t have a lot of things to benchmark across, you know, we had television and such, and television was a big one that we did use. And even in your little group, sort of the expectations was, you know, a friend group is that the expectations is that you put in what you need to put in, right. I mean, I will say, my first job out of college, I had it pretty good. My, my co workers were really one of them. In particular, I remember she was really outstanding at being like, it’s, it’s 430, I’m done, you know, and, and the owner of the company was really good with it. But again, that was a small, firm, and I think that guy was happy with where he was, he was making good money. We were not making great money, necessarily. But I think, you know, the whole idea is that that was sort of the reason why the culture was more loose, and like we would go play golf on Wednesday at two o’clock, right? Just sort of that, you know, it worked, right. I mean, the boss was making enough for himself. And I don’t know what he was making, but I think it was enough that he was not hurting, obviously.

Paul Harvey  18:26
That’s a potential advantage of working at a smaller firm, you’re not distanced enough from any other employee that they become kind of dehumanized. Whereas I was at a huge multinational company. And I never met anyone within three levels of the CEO, you know, like it just so there was more of a, you know, we all kind of felt like parts of the machine and treat each other as such. So I know some people like you were saying that, you know, five o’clock would come and they’d be out the door. But that was not well received. I don’t know how the higher ups looked at it, but certainly her peers, us. But the co workers in the cubicles would just kind of shake our heads and I catch. We’re really, those are the smart people. And we’re the ones just giving away our our life.

Frank Butler  19:12
Boy, you even had that anecdote, I think from the beginning too where you’re like, you’re done with stuff so early.

Paul Harvey  19:15

Frank Butler  19:15
And you were like, I’m done. Like, why do I have to fake looking? Right, which is kind of again, the reason why the busiest paradox, right? It’s faking busyness.

Paul Harvey  19:27
So, proof that this is nothing new. I mean, our experiences from 20 years ago are kind of the the inspiration for much of this entire podcast, but it’s certainly got legs today that it never had before.

Frank Butler  19:38
Yes. And thanks in large part to that social media. Yeah, here’s, here’s another one to write. And I think this is important. And I and this is something that I think every person needs to do is they gotta look down look at themselves and what they’re being paid what they think their worth is those kinds of things. And this one person said, “My busyness doesn’t equal my worth.”

Paul Harvey  19:59

Frank Butler  20:00
I think that’s a pretty profound statement about why we are seeing the quiet quitting trend happen.

Paul Harvey  20:05
That needs to be one of the 10 commandments of the Church of Niksen. Not that Nixon.

Frank Butler  20:11
Not that Nixon

Paul Harvey  20:12
For listeners who weren’t aware…we started a church a while back.

Frank Butler  20:15
We are paying taxes on that whole lot of $0 that we get, we’re not doing taking it for the tax breaks.

Paul Harvey  20:21
But, say that again, my busyness…

Frank Butler  20:24
My busyness doesn’t equal by worth. Yeah, it’s so it’s such a profound statement. That should be the episode title.

Paul Harvey  20:31
I think you’re right, we found a title. But I mean, it kind of makes sense that you would get to that point, because we’re far removed from the time when every person’s job had an easily observable outcome. Like I make wagon wheels, here’s my pile of wagon wheels I made, you know, we, oftentimes you have jobs that contribute a small part to a larger hole. And as we’ve discussed before, there’s not always tangible, easily observable output. So we look for proxies to evaluate ourselves and other people, and how busy you are, is not a very effective proxy. But it’s an easily observable proxy that we often end up using. And how busy is this person that they’re always busy, they must be doing lots of productive stuff. As we’ve discussed, ad nauseam is rarely true. In fact, it’s often the opposite that people who don’t seem to be busy, often, you peek under the hood, and they’re the ones that are just getting shit done.

Frank Butler  21:22
You know, and that’s it to again, it goes back to what if you’re more productive and faster than some of your co workers? Great, the biggest thing is that we shouldn’t measure the time worked, right goes back to that notion of, hey, if this person does it faster, great. Let’s not try to fill them up with busy working. And then we you know, we’ve even had episodes where we talked about, hey, you know, things that you can do to improve your self right self growth, if you’re one of those people who does finish early, or if you’re in an overwhelmingly boring job, or what have you. But I think, generally, the idea is, a good employer is probably looking at the output, in finding ways to align that with their job description, and all those kinds of things. And of course, also aligning it with the organization’s goals and objectives. So that way, the person understands how they’re contributing to the overall success of the firm. And I think it’s harder to do as we do move to larger companies a year saying, you know, it’s you were in that position, and you were so far removed from the C suite. And I think that’s a challenge in itself. Right. I think that’s something that I really do have a strong tendency that to think that there is value in executives going and getting down to the rank and file side of things, getting down to the boots on the ground side every now and again, and really living that job for a couple of weeks here and there.

Paul Harvey  22:41
Honestly, I don’t think there’s much benefit in letting companies get so big that you have to actually do that sort of thing. But you know, that horse has left the barn or however, that saying goes, the largeness of companies, unavoidably lends itself to the dumping this in an overly negative way, dehumanization of people, it’s, you know, it’s just like when you see like, some terrible event on the news that happen on the other side of the world, and you don’t connect to those people the same way you would as if they were your your neighbors. The same thing happens in overly large organizations. So I think these things can be bad in small companies, too. Don’t get me wrong. But I think this type of stuff that a lot of what we talked about in this show, actually is more likely to, to develop and become predominant in the larger company gets, which relates a little bit to what we’ve been talking about a few episodes in a row of kind of this post pandemic work adjustment and how a lot of it, a lot of the conversation seems to focus on implicitly larger companies and white collar types of jobs. And I wonder if that’s the case here, too. Trevor Noah, on The Daily Show had a funny skit about this. He’s quite quitting as a police officer running a hostage negotiation. And he’s got the megaphone and everything. It’s like, don’t harm the hostage and we can wait five o’clock. All right. Well, if you’re still here, on Monday, I will talk like there’s there are jobs where the stuff just can’t happen. Because it’s the you don’t have the option of calling your own shots or setting your own boundaries. But at the same time, those jobs, I think they’re less likely to involve this voluntary expansion of duties to they, they kind of have their own built in boundary. So you don’t have to set your own. But long winded way of saying that this slightly different dynamic, I think, the more you get towards the blue collar end of the job world,

Frank Butler  24:26
I think there’s also contexts in any genre to write, you’re not going to be in a sales call, sitting there working for commission and five o’clock rolls around, you’re like, hey, no, sorry. I gotta go now. Right? You’re gonna go to dinner with that client, but potentially, or whatever. But I think again, you have to also then take into account what’s the other avenue, right? The an hourly paid person, obviously, they want hours frequently, those kinds of things that might have a different contextual element.

Paul Harvey  24:51
I mean, this really only applies to salary jobs, I think.

Frank Butler  24:53
Right. Right. But I mean, I think you could also have it where it’s like, Hey, I know you’re working more hours today. If you don’t want to work more hours tomorrow, and you’re just keen on doing the 40 Sure, you don’t need to put in eight hours tomorrow to you can come in and no subtract what you put in extra today. Now, I think it’s important to understand one of the things that comes up here and there’s this theory and management called identity theory and it gets gets into, like how you’re the types of identity you carry, right? And social identity theory. Yes, social identity theory. And you know, of course, there’s, you have different identities, right. So you could be a father or mother, that’s one identity, you could be a co workers and identity, you could be a baseball coach on the weekends identity, right. So you’re wearing these multiple hats, and they’re kind of carry forth this total picture of your of who you are, in a sense. And it’s social, right? It’s all about that social aspect of is what people are also seeing. Now, one of the things that this, Tessa West said in the test was that psychology professor at NYU, she said that the motivation is between quiet quitting occur in two different ways. One is the identity side of it. Basically, it means working less in an effort to buck the cultural phenomenon of hustle culture. The people who identify as quiet quitters, often wear it on their sleeves. It’s about a declaration of the type of person you want to be. And that will be brought with you from job to job. Now, I think that’s important, right? It’s who you want to be. So that’s your own, you’ve reflected on yourself, what your expectations are going back to my person who’s an hourly person working 40 hours a week, that’s all they want to work, they worked 12 hours yesterday, they could work four hours today, just to keep their hours to 40. Right? Maybe that’s what they did. In that sense.

Paul Harvey  26:38
I just think it’s so cool that this is like a social identity that people can like, advertise now that like, we’ve come so far from having to hide from the fact like, I don’t really want to work 60 hours a week and my 40 hour week. Now it’s like, I know what it tell them the world and advertising it. That’s a really cool development. That’s true.

Frank Butler  26:54
Yeah. Yeah, you’re right. That is actually, you know, thinking about it. That is, it’s like mental health, right, we’ve become more discussing mental health issues is become much more socially acceptable to I mean, I still remember growing up that if you were seeing a psychiatrist, it was like, you keep that hush hush, you never tell a single freaking person, you know, nuts. Yeah. I mean, I remember going to see a therapist at the University of Georgia, when I was going through that sort of struggle of switching majors from from pre med microbiology to business MIS, that’s just yeah, that was a struggle, right? Because it was an identity shift. And I started to see a therapist, you know, University of Georgia provided. And I had told my parents and they were like, oh, no, you can’t ever tell anybody about that. Yeah. Yeah, it’s interesting. Now, there is a negative side to this, too. There’s a negative way of quiet quitting. And that deals with something like Oh, your boss says, You can’t work from home. And you think this is an injustice in some way. And you kind of, you know, flip them off or be like, I’m quite quitting, I’m no longer doing extra, or whatever. And the metaphor that she used in here was really quite a good one. It’s, it reminds me of stonewalling in close relationships, you’re mad at the partner. So you shut down, cross your arms refused to make eye contact and refuse to engage. She goes on to say it’s one of the biggest predictors of divorce. And bosses don’t like being stonewalled. And perhaps the boss deserves it, but that doesn’t matter. In this case, West says nobody wins. So that’s an alternative way that you perceive there’s an injustice in some way.

Paul Harvey  28:30
That to me is more like what I initially assumed. People meant when they use the term quiet, but you’re kind of drawing your own boundaries. Like, instead of setting boundaries, around the job description, you’re kind of carving boundaries through them, say, like, I took this job before the pandemic, and it was a work at the office type job. And then I worked from home for a while, and I want to keep doing that. But the boss says no, you know, the boss is still the boss like, right? You might not agree with it, it might be a stupid idea. But at some point, you do kind of have to see that, like, that’s not setting boundaries that say, I’m only doing what I’m paid to do. That’s kind of almost saying I’m doing something less, or at least something different than what I’m being paid to do.

Frank Butler  29:12
I don’t agree with the way you’re doing things. So I want to do it my way.

Paul Harvey  29:16
Yeah, yes. Yeah, that’s different. And I think

Frank Butler  29:19
that’s different. And I’ve seen this too, you know, I’ve seen it with new employees who are just rushing the workforce. And they complain about some process being inefficient. It’s like, Oh, why did we do it this way? And there’s a reason to it because it actually has built in checks and balances, so you don’t make a mistake. And so they cut the corner, and then they make the mistake, and they get in trouble for and it cost the company millions. And I’ve seen that happen. Again, I think, you know, and we’ll talk about this in sort of some solutions side of things. It goes back to, to doing proper training, right? Not just doing an OJT type thing or on to the job training, but like truly getting people to understand the reasons why they’re doing a process a certain way.

Paul Harvey  29:58
That’s the problem, because oftentimes, too You aren’t doing the training, you’re training the new person. And they like why you do it this way is stupid. Like, okay, it’s not my job to explain the logic to you. And I got other stuff to do here, buddy, do it this way. Right? And yeah, that’s,

Frank Butler  30:13
and that’s where problems happen. Right is there’s not, there’s not an understanding, there’s not a rationale given to. So I think that was an interesting one. Now, there’s another one that came up that I think is also really interesting one, it’s people of color. This came up in the Wall Street Journal article, the strategy might not work. This is quoting from that article, the strategy might not work for a lot of people of color, because of negative stereotypes. Black women, especially could experience backlash, if they decide to step back or set firmer boundaries. I mean, that, to me is just fascinating. And it’s something that I think is very important for everybody to sit there and try to think about being in somebody else’s shoes, right. Like,

Paul Harvey  30:54
Forbes did a similar article, it was a slight dip slightly different spin saying like, I don’t think that black employees are doing this, but basically giving the same reasons. In both cases, it’s important to note that it’s kind of speculative, like, given stuff that happens, I don’t think it’s going to work for these people. Like we don’t know for sure that this is true. But there’s an interesting sort of underlying theme to it. And it’s in the Forbes article, they call it the invisibility, visibility paradox, where you have to work twice as hard to be recognized for doing half as much if you’re a minority, but but if you screw up, it’s like, you’re totally like, on being monitored all the time. So the good stuff is not being noticed. But the bad stuff totally is right.

Frank Butler  31:39
And I think that was true for when women started going into the workplace, too, it was the same idea is that they had to work twice as hard. And I think to some extent, that is still sort of true. Again, this is why it’s so important to have clear metrics, and job descriptions in there.

Paul Harvey  31:53
It’s not always easy, but you got to do it. It’s I don’t know how to measure that output of that job, we’ll figure it out. Right?

Frank Butler  31:59
That it’s worth it. That’s why you have HR at least you need to sit down with a consultant to figure out these things it needs to be done. I think that’s why it’s important because it’s people of color might not be able to benefit from this idea of hey, let me also go for that work life balance, I can say I can stop at five, I don’t have to go above and beyond. And I think that’s an important thing is that we need to make sure that the playing field is level for everybody. And that’s something that it’s hard to do. It’s hard to do. We have unconscious biases, I don’t care who you are.

Paul Harvey  32:32
It’s the tribal nature of human evolution. That’s how your brain is wired. Someone looks different than you. There’s an innate suspicion because there back in the days, they were different tribe of caveman or whatever. What I think is more debatable is what to do about that. The common wisdom tends to be like go, Hey, realize that you have this innate tendency, and realize when you’re acting on them, but it’s like the mother of easier said than done. It’s not I mean, the whole world is trying to figure out a solution to this problem. As far as I know, we haven’t quite gotten there yet. But it is, if nothing else, is something to be aware of.

Frank Butler  33:07
It is funny you say the whole world. And I do want to quickly point out? Well, I mean, I think that it’s the stuff we’re seeing everywhere, interesting, like a place in China, but they had something that started last year, which was called Tang ping or whatever, I’m sorry, I do not speak.

Paul Harvey  33:22
How do you spell it just for listeners who do

Frank Butler  33:24
T-a-n-g p-i-n-g. Tang ping. And it’s translates to lying flat. And it was a social protest movement in China to basically reject the pressures to overwork. That’s because they were seeing diminishing returns of doing that extra work. Those who participate in said quote, lie down flat and get over the beatings, quote, but it kind of ties into that whole counter hustle culture thing.

Paul Harvey  33:56
Such a cool distinction. Cool, but, you know, something like this played out in Japan, also, the younger generation in the 90s, seeing their parents working themselves to death and being like, why are you doing that, but that was absent the totalitarian government. And same in the US like there’s not this over overbearing power. Encouraging you forcing you to do this, like we bring a lot of this on ourselves. We’re kind of rebelling this quiet, quitting at least this sort of rebelling against something that we brought upon ourselves.

Frank Butler  34:22
Right. Exactly. And this one is definitely much more akin to what the is quite quitting is about. The one in Japan was called HC Maury. And that one was much more about becoming more socially isolated, socially withdrawn, right.

Paul Harvey  34:37
Oh, okay. That’s a different thing. Yeah,

Frank Butler  34:39
that’s like the but it but he still had the same sort of ideas, right. It’s like, I’m not going to work hard. I’m not going to do

Paul Harvey  34:45
there might even be a connection between those things of the like, I’m not going to work myself to death like my parents did. Maybe that road took a while to I’m not ever going outside my apartment. Yeah,

Frank Butler  34:54
I think and I think that’s very true. I think there’s that strong

Paul Harvey  34:57
overlap there and Japanese listeners want chime in on that. Yes,

Frank Butler  35:01
that’s actually a great point, please do to end up though we wanted to do some solutions. I want to start with a MarketWatch summary paragraph they had here. And this is a quote out of that article, and it aligns with us, quote, quiet, quitting is a perfect example of employees managing up and showing companies there is a third weigh an alternative to both slacking and clock watching, clock watching, I hope it’s a wake up call to companies that their staff needs time and space to exhale, and not bring work home with them, or sacrifice their sanity, leisure time or mental health. So a company can meet its targets. Unquote.

Paul Harvey  35:37
I agree with that. I think what we’re seeing in a lot of ways, hopefully, is the solution. Because it’s hard. There’s some rough takes out there, you can see like, what do we have to stop this? You really want to go on TV and say that we have to stop this horrible trend of people doing what they’re paid to do? Cuz it’s not going to age? Well, buddy.

Frank Butler  35:54
Exactly. So here’s, here’s some of our things that we think you need to think about. If you’re a manager, or even if you’re an employee, these are things that you would want to consider. First and foremost, think about your organization’s culture, we’ve talked about this before, culture matters. I mean, this is a reflection of the culture. For the most part, think about your job descriptions and how you write those job descriptions. I think this is where we’re seeing the biggest disconnect here. A lot of this quiet quoting goes back to doing the things that were evaluated, or were put into the job description, and then sticking to that, that’s a good thing. That means that you need to look at the job descriptions go, if you expect those extras, we better put those extras in there. But then you also should better be aware that that might require you to pay more for those extras to get a person to do that job, at the level it needs to be done.

Paul Harvey  36:45
But to be clear, this doesn’t mean that Oh, you’re going to this is going to cost you money. Because when you have this culture of busy work is everyone who’s doing this extra stuff. And those who don’t, everyone’s trying to look busy all the time that that’s, as we talked about endlessly. That’s an inefficient, inexpensive way to operate a business. So, you know, aligning your actual pay with actual job descriptions, on a case by case basis might cost a little bit more. But if you run your whole company, that way, you’ll be far more efficient. You’re gonna come out ahead.

Frank Butler  37:18
Exactly. And that then ties to the evaluation aspect of it, what are you measuring? What are the metrics? What is important for that job, what is or what does meet expectation mean, and what does exceeds expectations mean? You’re trying to drive some OCBs, you gotta be mindful of not trying to overdo it, where you’re burning out, your people haven’t

Paul Harvey  37:39
take it a step further, which is as heck don’t try to drive off CVS, don’t don’t try to drive people towards doing more than what you’re paying them for, if they do it great and reward them. But if you’re at work guilty of this in our field, you know, we treat that variable, organizational citizenship behavior as just a nice thing that that means that things are going well, when employees are doing this. If that should not be it’s such an expectation, it shouldn’t be like, Wow, you really went above and beyond like, Thank you,

Frank Butler  38:05
you know, and I will say that our field is is really terrible. For example, here etc, we there really isn’t an exceeds expectations, it’s needs improvement or meets expectations, right, those are the two, there’s no merit base wage increases frequently, it’s just you know, across the board wage increases, which is great, don’t get me wrong. But it does sort of disincentivize people to do sometimes activities that they should be that we should be encouraging. But again, rewarding.

Paul Harvey  38:31
So we see it go too far the other direction, like ucsi, unionized workplaces, that it goes really far in the other direction that like you cannot do more than right being paid to do. And that can be frustrating to

Frank Butler  38:42
me. Here’s another thing too, just just quickly, too, and I’m really guilty of this. And so I can understand as I do a lot of extra stuff. You know, not only am I meeting my objectives for publications, and teaching and teaching evaluations, LTC, I oftentimes pick up extra classes, I do get some compensation. But you know, it’s hardly worth doing it. But for that compensation, but I do do it in especially because of the time side. I’ve do a lot of other service type things beyond just the journal staff that were expected to do do a lot of service for the university. And oftentimes, it’s probably in comparison to some of my other colleagues who make a little bit more than me a little bit more than them. And, and it starts leading to burnout in its own right. And I think that’s there’s a strong tie there. Because I know that I look at stuff and I’m like, I can’t this is not sustainable. It’s killing me. And I don’t I’m not enjoying it anymore.

Paul Harvey  39:35
That’s what happens. You burn out. Yeah. I mean, it’s still like a viable theory that when my brain exploded from the tick infections a few years back, it was almost certainly very likely accelerated by the fact that I was just working all the time. 20 hours a day sometimes and my actual job was so much less than that. But I just, you know, stuff I wanted to do at the time. But that’s what happens, you burn out. And then you’re useless. And you’re my case was a little bit unusual. But the trajectory isn’t that you, you work yourself too hard, you get sick, and then you can’t do a damn thing. And you’re not any good anyway. So the tunes tune people up spitting them out thing is not the same as what we’re talking about here. But it’s a caliphate

Frank Butler  40:22
and part of that stuff that leads to it. And I mean, you know, like I said, I that’s, I was overdoing it too. And this led to my kind of burnout again, it was all voluntary, right? I did it voluntarily and stuff. And it just it does have it’s

Paul Harvey  40:34
an imagine if that hadn’t been voluntary stuff. Like if you’re just sort of being really leaned on. You know, you don’t you can do the bare minimum if you want to rank.

Frank Butler  40:44
And, you know, I’m actually very, very mindful that when we go into like P and T discussions and stuff, are they hitting their minimums? That’s all I care about, you know, are they teaching well? Are they getting good teaching evaluations? Are they’re hitting their research requirements? Are they doing some service that’s expected of them? Nothing more, nothing less.

Paul Harvey  40:59
That’s the one thing we do right in academia, mostly, is that we evaluate people on what they’re actually, at the end of the day. What are your teaching evaluations look like? What are your publication record looking like? Thumbs up, thumbs down based on that. It’s there’s still enough walls in place at most universities, I think, to keep the other riffraff to the side, to varying degrees. But yeah,

Frank Butler  41:21
something important than is adjust your own expectations, regardless of what you did. I think that’s something that’s important to know.

Paul Harvey  41:30
And that’s where so much this comes back in my day. Wow. Yep. When I was in your position, I was working 80 hours a week and, like, you know, how can you um, you don’t feel the need to do that. So you got you got hosed dude, like you got used, you did a whole bunch of free labor, don’t make someone else have to do the same thing.

Frank Butler  41:48
Mindful times change. I mean, that’s just the bottom line, you keep up, learn to adapt, learn to adjust, you have to change, if you stay idle, if you stay stagnant, it was a good chance you’re going to get left behind. And there’s going to be a point that you’re no longer going to be wanted or needed. You’re not I know there’s this whole ageism concern and a lot of times, but it’s the ageism only comes up for those who’ve solidified and become concrete and refuse the changes times change. And then it goes like, oh, well, you’re firing me, because I don’t know you’re firing you because you didn’t change in the past 20 years?

Paul Harvey  42:17
Because you’re just crank that sits there on the corner and shakes his fist and everyone yells at clouds. Yep,

Frank Butler  42:21
that’s why Yep, yeah, toxic, right, going, becoming toxic. Don’t be that. So. So another thing I put in here that I think is important is that train managers, we don’t train them. Typically, we promote people who are good at their job. But then we don’t give them any of the skills necessary to be a manager, you’ve got to train people on how to properly evaluate their team, you’ve got to train people on how to how to be better in I don’t mean just like sending them to like a master’s in business administration, or a master’s in management or leadership, or those kinds of I mean, also about your company, and what your expectations are. So you create a unified, or uniform set of feedback. So every manager is at least a little bit more hopefully aligned specifically to now I do recommend that you send them to the continuing education stuff, or getting an MBA or leadership things, but you got to you got to make your managers sort of allies so that way, when people talk to each other, it’s not like, Oh, my managers thinks I’m doing great.

Paul Harvey  43:17
Right? They’re off often is a need for some kind of external, yes, help on this, whether it’s a you know, Leadership Program, or consultant or whatever, because it is a little bit chicken and egg, it, like you said, we don’t really train managers how to manage and we end up with these huge companies of no one who even would know how to train someone else to manage, even your top managers doesn’t. Just because you can do something, well doesn’t mean you can actually put it into words and teach someone else how to do it, maybe you can, maybe you can’t, it’s gonna take away time from their job. So like, who trains the man who manages the process of training managers? And so it’s, it’s no, like you say, like, these things can’t be y’all go out and have a one size fits all approach, make all your managers read some stupid book. But at the same time, they’re gonna have to be honest with yourself about you know, do we need someone who can actually facilitate this process of teaching managers to be managers in our company,

Frank Butler  44:12
and I think that’s why it’s got to be complimentary, right? So, like me, if you can do that, I mean, you know, you would hire consultants to help set you up with some programming. I do think external education is great, like getting an MBA or masters or executive Ed training, those kinds of things. But that’s why it’s also you need to have your own complimentary in house training, that you you know, every other people are getting this stuff. But it’s how do we make sure that we’re giving the specifics that are important to our company and our employees, and

Paul Harvey  44:38
that can be expensive, you know, it’s an investment without a clear, immediate return. You just have to have faith in the process that is going to improve your returns in the wires

Frank Butler  44:49
in let me say why? Because without your people, your company is nothing good. Its bottom line. Your company is just contracts. There’s nothing to an organization beyond a bunch of contracts. Just pay Going these hyperlinks that actually, yes. So, and then, you know, things, pay accordingly.

Paul Harvey  45:06
Look at tick tock, whatever these social media things where people are talking about this. Do you want to be that company where your employees are this? Anyone say this pissed off just this? Do you want to be thought of that way by your employees? Right? And is that actually going to be a good thing for your company? Of course not.

Frank Butler  45:22
And then, of course, the last two things, pay accordingly and then consider the four day workweek, you know, listen to our episode there about that. We had a great guest on and she killed it from four day week.com. Please. So anyway, I think that’s it. I think we beat this one a little bit. Yeah. So we’re getting

Paul Harvey  45:39
close to the hour mark, and I absolutely refuse to work. One minute, more than an hour on this episode. Gotta go to whitely quit. Yeah, that’s actually the real motivation to go to a meeting.

Frank Butler  45:51
All right, well, with that Y’all follow? Like, subscribe, share with your colleagues, people you think need to be hearing this stuff. And we are, as we said in our last episode, now the source of the truth. So if we are the source of the surface of the truth come to us. We are going to give it to you straight,

Paul Harvey  46:08
Play our episodes, loudspeakers at your workplace, force everyone to listen. Good things will happen. We promise.

Frank Butler  46:17
Join the church of niksen

Paul Harvey  46:19
Join the church of niksen

Frank Butler  46:20
Not that Nixon.

Paul Harvey  46:21

Frank Butler  46:23
Good day, everybody.

Frank Butler  46:23
Good day, everybody.

Paul Harvey  46:24
Good day, folks. The Busyness Paradox is distributed by Paul Harvey and Frank Butler. Our theme music is adapted from “It’s Business Time” by Jemaine Clements and Bret McKenzie. Our production manager is Justin Wuntaek. We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode, and we’d love to hear from you. Please send any questions, comments or ideas for future episode topics to input@busynessparadox.com, or find us on Twitter. Also, be sure to visit our website, busynessparadox.com, to read our blog posts and for links to the articles and other resources mentioned in today’s show. Finally, please take a moment to rate and follow or subscribe to our show on Apple podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Google Podcasts or…I don’t know, wherever the heck you get your podcasts.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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