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VOL. 46 | NO. 36 | Friday, September 9, 2022

A new kind of Labor Day

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Labor Day is always a fun time of the year. Most people are off work for the three-day weekend, and many get a chance to spend time with loved ones at picnics and barbecues.

The Labor Day holiday was created in the 1880s to honor the works and contributions of American workers and the American labor movement.

In the last two and a-half years, the American workplace has transformed in ways that we could not have envisioned. Many people are now working from home. Roles and responsibilities have changed. There are labor shortages and pay increases. There is more transparency in recruiting and hiring.

Along with all of this change, you might have heard about the concept of “quiet quitting.” If you’ve wondered what this trend is about, it’s honestly not as new as it sounds. Quiet quitting isn’t really about quitting. It’s about drawing boundaries between work and personal life and doing no more work than is required. Right now, it’s all the rage among employees.

One thing the pandemic taught us is that life is short. Things aren’t guaranteed. And, when times get tough, many companies will let employees go to save the company. People care more now about benefits and balance than they care about money alone.

The question for employers becomes, how do you curb this trend? How do you keep people engaged? It’s hard anymore to know if employees are really working. When they’re working from home, employees are only seen during meetings and only if they turn on their cameras.

Some employers have addressed these concerns by monitoring employees more. They’ve increased their use of software that measures productivity. This isn’t the answer. Employees who want to do the minimum will do that, whether they are monitored or not, and whether they’re in person or working from home.

Employers should spend more time getting to know their employees. They should try to listen to what’s important to employees. They should provide training and mentoring. They should pay a fair wage. In other words, it’s time to get back to basics. Employees want to feel valued, and they want to feel respected.

But, the buck doesn’t stop there. Going to work isn’t like going to an amusement park. An employer’s job isn’t to keep everyone happy and entertained all day from 9 to 5. If you have found yourself quiet quitting, it’s time to reevaluate. What could you do at work to feel more engaged in your projects? What could you do to connect more with colleagues?

If the answer is nothing, it may be time to look elsewhere. Work is an important part of life. If you find yourself checked out most of the time and without hope of change, dust off your resume. Look for a new boss, a new employer, or possibly even a new industry or a new role.

Quiet quitting is not a long-term solution for what should be a short-term problem.

Angela Copeland, a leadership and career expert, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.

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