Pandemic burnout helped spark ‘leave it alone’ trend, experts say – The Hill

History at a glance

  • The latest buzz term to hit social media platforms is “soft exit,” which speaks to younger workers’ need for better balance between their work and personal lives.

  • The term “quiet hand” means to stop going above and beyond in the workplace.

  • The idea behind “leaving it alone” isn’t new, but the recent social media attention surrounding it has sparked much-needed conversations about work-life balance.

Pandemic fatigue fueled by the constant access created by remote work has, in part, led to the latest workplace trend, the “quiet exit,” some experts say.

Relieving burnout by taking it easy on the job is nothing new. But a recent trend of Millennial and Gen Z workers turning to TikTok to talk about “silencing” has given the idea new life.

Now, “quitting” is the newest buzz term making the rounds on social media with some hailing the trend as a much-needed cultural shift, while critics of the term are calling it the wrong solution to burnout.

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Instead, the phrase refers to a cultural shift among American workers to ditch the “rush culture” and not go above and beyond in the workplace.

“He’s not giving up his self-preservation basically,” said Wayne Pernell, a clinical psychologist and leadership expert. “People say work is important, but so is the rest of my life. The work does not own me.”

Before the pandemic, many American workers subscribed to the “hustle culture,” or the idea of ​​going above and beyond in the workplace to impress an employer in order to give a promotion, a raise, or simply avoid lockout. of disruption during a round of layoffs.

Another aspect of the “hustle culture” is taking on a “side gig” to deal with the rising cost of living. Over 40 percent of workers admit to having a side gig, according to the Bankrate survey.

American workers had to hustle even more as COVID-19 caused mass shutdowns.

In the first nine months of 2020, about 9.6 million people lost their jobs in the United States, according to data from the Pew Research Center. Closed businesses and furloughed companies created a tight labor market, forcing many of the workers who kept their jobs during the pandemic to feel the pinch.

“Employees and their engagement increased 10-fold because they were like I’m grateful to still have a job; my company is still alive. I want to keep working and I still have to pay my bills,” Tiffani Martinez, director of human resources at Otter Public Affairs, told Changing America. “So everyone from the COVID gate was fully doubled.”

And since most American workers were stuck inside for much of the pandemic and constantly accessible by their computers or phones, the line between work time and personal time became very blurred, according to Daniela Wolfe, a social worker and work-life balance expert. .

“When the pandemic started, we were all in a place of confusion,” Pernell said. “How will any work be done? And then we realized, well, if we work remotely, that’s great.”

“People would come in and check email at 6:30 in the morning and do some work and then break for lunch which was easy because it was right there, but they would eat at their desk and then before you know it it was time to dinner and then ‘oh well, I’ll check my email one more time.’ And they worked 12, 14, 16 hour days.”

The stress of the pandemic coupled with the stress of constant availability led to burnout and prompted many people to rearrange priorities.

“It made them stop and reevaluate that you get a body … and you’ve neglected it,” Martinez added. “People were like my body is important, my home life is important.”

While critics of the term believe it’s an unhealthy attitude that, as Ariana Huffington put it in a now-viral LinkedIn post, “will lead to lifelong quitting,” supporters, like Pernell, maintain the belief that “quitting quiet” or better. a “quiet revolution” will make it no longer defined by work.

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