The workplace has undergone many changes during the Covid-19 pandemic, including remote working which has emptied offices and forced people to work from home during lockdowns.
It has also led to changes in attitudes to work, which have fueled trends including the ‘big resignation’ and more recently, the ‘quiet resignation’.
Leaving alone does not actually involve leaving. Employees are ‘giving up’ by going above and beyond. They are leaving at 5:00 p.m., doing only their assigned duties and refusing to do any unpaid extra work.
It is seen as a response to the culture of hustle and burnout, and while many people were unable to resign from their jobs, they re-evaluated their relationship with work and instead chose to quietly ‘leave’.
Quiet pullers found their voice and millions of followers on TikTok.
In the US, TikToker Sarai Marie who posts videos under @saraisthreads has garnered a lot of views, likes and followers.
In one of her sketches, her boss ‘Susan’ hands over a file to staff member ‘Veronica’ asking her to complete the work by the end of the day. Veronica replies, “It’s 2022. We’re getting our paycheck, so don’t give us any extra work.”
The sketch ends with Veronica attending a Zoom meeting at 4:59 p.m., and as the clock strikes 5 p.m., she closes her laptop and heads home.
The post on social networks has been viewed 10.4 million times.
In another sketch, Susan asks everyone to come to work 30 minutes early “to settle in.” Veronica replies, “Once corporate America stops being toxic, I’ll come in before my shift and settle in early.”
For others, it’s not a performance, they just go out, leave work and post it on social media.
Increased quitting is linked to a decline in job satisfaction, but is this a legitimate response or risky business?
Attorney Richard Grogan, who specializes in employment law, has amassed thousands of views and followers on TikTok by answering questions and explaining people’s rights in the workplace.
“I wouldn’t recommend it if you want to have a career in an organization or want to be promoted,” Mr Grogan said.
He said a contract would normally have a provision for employees to occasionally work overtime “so it’s not just a 9 to 5 issue, the employer, under the contract, may want you to do extra”.
“So making a decision that I’m just going to work a 9 to 5 and put down my pen and go home is a decision that’s probably going to result in a lot of hardship, if I may say so.”
Síobhra Rush, partner and head of Lewis Silkin’s Dublin office, said that doing the bare minimum and doing it in an angry way doesn’t necessarily mean people will feel fulfilled in their work, and she said that it suggests they are simply in the wrong job.
“I also think employees need to be very careful about this because if they’re not performing to the standards required by their employer, they may rightly have to be performance managed if they’re not going to zero,” she said. .
“They can deal with a performance management process, and I suppose we’re seeing an increase in this area with hybrid work and people having to be managed remotely.”
Ms Rush said the layoff is something to watch, “especially for employment lawyers”.
Mr Grogan said the quiet walkout phenomenon “shows me that there is a lot of disconnect between employers and employees and that this disconnect is getting worse”.
He said employers must notify employees if they are required to work overtime, “but if you’re going to leave at 5pm regardless, then the employer needs to know about it.”
“Equally if you’re working with someone then you at least need the courtesy to show them,” he said.
“I’m not saying an employee should stay until 5.30 or 6pm, the employee should organize their day so that people know they’re leaving at 5pm.
“Just closing the laptop and going home, that’s not the right way to deal with anybody.”