Why Americans are quiet quitting

You don't owe you job your undying loyaltu

Ed Stuteville

6/28/20234 min read

As I sat yesterday recuperating from the last four days of work, I realized that I used to enjoy my days off. Now, I just try and get enough rest to make it through the next five-to-seven-day stretch.

Seven years ago when I had a day off, I played disc golf, went on day-trips, and generally enjoyed my time away from work. Today, I just try to survive and mend my body. The difference is that the company I worked for then, I was the upper management and I respected the employees and management that worked for and with me. I expected my associates to have a good work/life balance. Today, I am middle management and control nothing of my work/life balance.

In the former job, I expected my people to get two days off a week and to not be involved in work—barring a real catastrophe. Today, I am feathered to a workplace 24/7/365. My BYOD device is on all the time as it is also my personal phone. I can’t turn off the constant email and work group chats that come through without turning my phone off.

Also, in the old job, my DMs and even my store managers made their own schedules, within company guidelines, and chose when they worked—both day and time. Today, my schedule is made out three weeks in advance by the 2nd in command, and I have little control over days off or times. (This last fourteen day stretch I worked the following: 1-11, off, 7-5, 1-11, 10-8, 7-5, off, 7-5, 1-11, off, 1-11, off, 7-5, 7-5, 1-11, 10-8, 7-5, off, 1-11, off, 7-5). I am getting my first weekend off this weekend after two months, however I had to request PTO to get that. Then I was only scheduled one off day that week. Every time I get a weekend off, the next week I will work 6 days in a row, one day off, and five days in a row, one day off, and five days in a row—all with the above type schedule.

Our company has a rule against Clopening (closing, then opening) but they get around that by the Close/mid/opening. I have 11 hours between shifts, so they can legally get away with it because state law says 8 hours in-between shifts. However, the result is the same. I work, go home to bed, have an hour to myself, go to work, have two hours to myself, and go to bed for an early shift the next day. Over the course of three days, I have three waking hours to spend with my family. I might add here that the top two managers work 7-5 every day—well, at least they are scheduled that—in reality, they come in around 7:30-8:00 and leave sometime after 2:00PM. We never know, because they never tell anyone they are gone.

This kind of managing is the reason that so many Americans are quiet quitting. When top management do not consider how the scheduling affects the outside lives of their employees, then people quietly begin doing. just enough to get by. Why give anything more than necessary to a company that doesn’t value you or your personal time?

In addition, many companies will reward a top performing associate with more work (usually someone else’s job) for no more money. This is called performance punishment and it is happening everywhere. Once the company realizes that the one person can do two jobs, they cut that other position out and don’t replace the worker.

While I mentioned these issues in my present company, it is not necessarily the company position, but sometimes it is poor management. There is a saying amongst good leaders that says People don’t quit companies, they quit managers. Poor managers cause more employees to leave their jobs than any other reason combined.

Today, most bigger companies operate by metrics. Metrics are necessary to operate a successful business, however, metrics at any cost might make the bottom line look good, but it can create a hostile and toxic work environment.

A example would be a company that has a goal of 100% labor matrix with zero overtime. Let’s say the company has a 3% call-out rate. that makes the 10% labor matrix now a 97% labor actual to demand. The company has frozen hiring to keep the labor metric in line. So now, with no overtime allowed the store is forced to run under matrix. If you call someone in that will get OT, then you have to cut their ours another day to avoid the OT, so no one volunteers to come in. You end up pulling people from other areas to cover the call outs and suddenly, customer service is the last thing that gets taken care of. In addition, those covering the other positions are unable to complete their job so their metrics go down, putting them in the hot seat. Then suddenly, there is a new metric you have to chase.

When companies are operated like this, it is no wonder that people are quiet quitting. No one is going to go over and beyond for someone that doesn’t do that for them. You don’t owe the company you work for more than the job requires. They will not give you more than the agreed upon pay for doing more. And rest assured, as my Mother used to say “That company will still operate tomorrow without you.”

I realized this twice in my recent memory. The first time was when my mentor and boss died. He had given his all to the company. He was there every day. He did whatever it took to get the job done. When he died, there was a couple of weeks of mourning but the company went right on working. After two weeks, I was named his successor and it was business as usual.

The second time was seven years ago, when the company decided to downsize and eliminated my position and a few others. After 26 years for myself, and 30 for another, we were summarily out of a job. “Here’s a (small) check, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

You owe no company your undying loyalty because they have no loyalty to the employee beyond what it brings to the bottom line. This is why so many young people are leaving jobs, or refusing to take promotions. They see the writing on the wall. The days of being loyal to a company and them returning that loyalty are over. Give your best at work, but no more than required. Jobs can be replaced, your life, well, you only get one. Live your life on your terms.