Recently, the trend seems to appear on many Quiet Quitting topics. During my gym, I started taking the opportunity to watch some YouTube for understanding. I happened to come across this “Why China’s Gen Zs and Millennials Are ‘Quiet Quitting’: The ‘Bai Lan (let it rot)’ Movement”, published by CNA Insider. A quick summary of the video. Generation Zers and Millennials are not happy with their job as they find work to be mundane and boring. They resist doing the same or repetitive work each day. They seem to defy the routine from working to eating and sleeping. If they are given an option, they prefer to do it their way and by themselves. They don’t seem to believe in working hard as they find the work tedious.
Their motivation to work is different from the other generations. They started becoming a slacker. They even portray as anti-social, and they have their own mindset. While they strive to look for a better job, they felt difficult to achieve their goals. One commented that he worked very hard for two years. His boss recognised it but instead of a promotion, he was only given more work and a voucher.
Hence, these generations became restless. They felt they won’t excel or accomplished what they had been asked to do. Their attitude started to change; they decided not to place more effort into their work as they can’t see the purpose.
The China government is getting worried and concerned as this attitude may hinder the economic growth in their country. Whereas this generation thinks otherwise. They doubt their attitude will impact the country’s economic goal. They feel that everyone should have a different lifestyle and mindset. They also felt the country has many talented and smart people; hence their attitude won’t hamper its goal and future. President Xi Jinping recognises the issue as he believes China’s hope lies in the importance of youth for the country’s goals and future.
So, are these generations rebellious today? Is this happening in China only? Or are they impacting every organisation today, regardless of where we are?
When I watched this video, it suddenly reminded me as I know some youth in this cluster. One of them dragged going to work even though he is employed in one of the most happening and top global employers. Another, having been in the top consulting group with a high salary and perks, decided to quit, joined a smaller start-up for short while, and now venture into his self- entrepreneurship which is not relevant to what he studied.
Recently I attended a dinner and sat at the same table with parents of late Millennials and Gen Z children. It was an interesting evening as the conversation led them to speak of their children and their readiness for the workforce. They, the parent realised that these current generations are not in the hurry to look for work after graduation. Most of these parents are Gen Xers’ parents.
They added that their children were not eager to find jobs or exploring for the roles that they majored in. They noticed their children preferred doing something that gives them flexibility. To add salt to the wound, the parents themselves admitted that they are not pressuring their children to work anyway.
Therefore, is this an issue in the employment market today? According to World Economic Forum, they are not opposed to corporate work, but instead they don’t compromise for a workplace that doesn’t fit their values. They are different from other generations that are more accommodative in their workplace.
What is Quiet Quitting?
First, let’s understand what Quiet Quitting is and how this has impacted the working world today.
- Wikipedia defines it as a work-to-rule application. That means, workers or employees only worked and engage in activities within the work hours. They only work exactly what they have been asked to do.
- Investopedia defines it as the enthusiasm and effort of doing the minimum job requirement
- Gallup explained it as workers not placing effort beyond their defined work outlines in their job description. Gallup found that there are about 50% of the U.S. workforce that makeup up of these Quiet Quitters.
On the other hand, Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman wrote in Harvard Business Review (HBR) that this behaviour is nothing new and it is more like a new definition for an old behaviour. They had conducted such behavioural studies for decades. They found that these “quiet quitting” rejects the idea of work as they generally focus on their life. Therefore, they resist the extra effort or conform to requests beyond their expectation of work.
What causes it?
So, what exactly causes this Quiet Quitting? Let’s see how the other experts explained it.
- Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman cited it as bad bosses and not bad employees.
- Jaya Dass, the MD of Randstad’s Singapore and Malaysia says it could be the residual impact of Covid-19 and the Great Resignation.
- John M. Bremen said in Forbes that is it all about employee experiences.
- And Gallup terms it as a symptom of poor management.
Or could it be Gen Z are influenced by social media platforms that encourage these generations not to work beyond their expectation? So, which is true? What are the contributing factors?
Generations and their mindset
We understand that generally, Quiet Quitting is more prominent from the end tail of Millennials and Gen Zer. So, let’s understand these generations and their general characteristics.
I like this book from father and son David and Jonah Stillman on GenZ@work. Let’s extract some of the points that are relevant to this topic, especially on the Gen Z mindset. First and foremost, some know Gen Z as iGen or Zoomers which was born from 1997 to 2012. This generation is naturally private,
- In their survey, they found that 69% of these Gen Z prefer their workspace. Owning their workspace is not the point here. It’s about getting their noses to the grindstone and out of other businesses. In another word, they keep themselves strictly on specific work continuously and will not spend time on other things.
- 71% believe that if one wants to do it correctly, then it should be done by themselves. Generally, they prefer to work in new ways and by themselves. That’s exactly projected in the video that this generation would prefer to finish their work themselves than get others to complete it.
- 75% of Gen Z are interested in a situation in which they could have multiple roles within one place of employment in hope that they will move up.
- 73% felt they will be committed to sticking around if their roles continue to grow
How different is this Gen Zer from other Generations
- Gen Boomers looked forward to climbing the career ladder with a fancy title, a bump in pay
- Gen Xers on the other hand embrace lateral move and is sceptical about climbing the ladder as they sense the ladder could come crashing down. Hence, Gen Xers see lateral moves as learning a new set of skills. They prefer to add those skills to their resume.
- Gen Millennials were afraid to land a job that wasn’t making a difference
- Gen Zer is afraid of missing out on something else that might be better
Here are some Gen Zer characteristics that I extracted from David and Jonah’s book
- Gen Zer cannot multi-task as their brain can’t focus on lots of things at one time. However, they are good at task-switching i.e., from one task to another seamlessly and frequently
- Gen Zer has only an eight-second attention span, and this is not referring to sitting around it’s more to how they are wired. That’s when technologies are created thus helping to distract them academically.
- Gen Z is FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
- Gen Z are Digital Natives
- Gen Z believes in optimising resources and doing it efficiently
Digital Transformation towards Employee Experiences (EX)
Therefore, having said the above, should organisations look into starting their digital transformation journey to enhance their employee experiences. Why is this crucial in this digital era?
According to Zurich, Gen Z will make up about 30 per cent of the world’s population. This group will encompass 27 per cent of the workforce by 2025. Likewise, McKinsey’s insight, also foresee an exodus of employees who are exhausted and overwhelmed with the work condition today. Workers started to examine what work means to them and started to explore other options. So, should we be worried and be prepared for the wave and consider Gen Z behaviour when they join the workforce?
We need to understand Digital Transformation is not just about Customer Experiences (CX), it is also about the Employee Experiences (EX) that are transforming the future.
IBM Smarter Workforce Institute and Workhuman defines Employee Experiences as “A set of perceptions that employees have about their experiences at work in response to their interactions with the organisation.”.
So, are you ready for Gen Z in your workplace? Start your Digital Transformation journey today before the exodus kicks in.