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Letter to the Editor: ‘Quiet quitting’ phrase is misleading, pejorative

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Dear editor, 

We’ve all heard it by now, the newest late-stage capitalist catchphrase: “quiet quitting.” Coined by the proletariat of TikTok, the phrase is defined as doing the bare minimum requirements of a job in order to keep said job. It’s now being used by execs and human resources departments to contemptibly categorize those employees not willing to go “above and beyond” the call of duty. In short, quiet quitters are to be considered lazy and unambitious. But let’s examine this a little closer.

In our post-pandemic society, the average employee’s workplace priorities have shifted dramatically. We are, by and large, no longer willing to accept the substandard status quo, one that requires long hours, pathetic wages and a slavish willingness to do whatever is asked of us under the guise of loyalty, usually to the detriment of our families, personal time and mental health. However, that is exactly what the people wielding this latest neologism have expected us to do for years: exceed the baseline contractual obligations for which we are paid, because we should be fanatically invested in their company in order to be considered “ambitious” and “promotable.” 

Now these upper-management types are big mad that the people who really make them their money are only willing to do what they are paid to do. And so, of course, they have found a new way to gaslight those front-liners into believing that if they are not willing to go the extra mile, take on extra duties and work harder than their peers, they will only ever be considered as indolent and expendable. This is how the upper class has always exploited the workforce into inhuman levels of productivity and increased profits, by dangling the carrot of a paltry increase in salary and some glamorous promotion waiting on the distant horizon. But the truth is we’re all expendable at nearly any level within any company. 

Workers are now more aware than ever of these predatory employment tactics, and by refusing to do any more than they are actually being paid or are contractually obligated to do, they are exercising the only true power they have in an exploitative capitalist system. By holding their time away from work, as well as their health, sacred beyond the reach of the pennies trickled down from wealthy C-suites with continually increasing profit margins, outlandish salaries and lavish lifestyles, baseline workers are using what little power they have to change the employment landscape in an attempt to tip the seriously unbalanced scales back in their favor. Don’t be fooled by quiet quitting as a label for the lazy; the new reality is that if you want to motivate your people to do more, you need to pay them more. Don’t expect, or worse, demand, workers to do more than you are paying them to do or work longer hours without extra compensation because they should feel some intrinsic sense of guilt over recognizing their own worth, the worth of their labor and the worth of the time spent away from their own lives and families.

—JT Kendall, Springfield


3 comments on this story |
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I was disappointed in the letter ‘Quiet quitting’

All my career I was always striving to exceed expectations and that was good

Thursday, September 8, 2022

It's about time workers realized their value! Having been tricked into thinking that working harder for less money was how one rises in this society, the majority watched while a handful at the top were rewarded far beyond their value to society. The damage done by the greedy few is going to take a long time to undo. Meanwhile, being paid appropriately for performing actual work needs to become the norm.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Very well said.

Monday, November 21, 2022
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