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CAREERS

WTF is quiet quitting?

A new workplace trend is seeing employees avoid burnout and ditch stressful jobs  all while remaining gainfully employed

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UNENTHUSED WITH UNWRITTEN expectations and entering the workforce after years dominated by the ethos of a burnout-inducing hustle culture, Gen Z workers have responded with the concept of ‘quiet quitting’ ― a TikTok-era revival of work-to-rule that implores employees to resist professional burnout by doing their job, no more, no less.


As The Guardian’s resident comic First Dog on the Moon explained: “What is quiet quitting? It’s not very complicated ― it is simply doing the job you were hired to do. That’s it ― no more, no less…”


The concept of quiet quitting has struck a chord on social media, with thousands of TikToks posted by employees who generally talk about reclaiming a bit of their sanity by giving up the idea of going above and beyond.


“You’re not outright quitting your job, but you’re quitting the idea of going above and beyond,” said one TikToker. “You’re still performing your duties, but you’re no longer subscribing to the hustle culture mentality that work has to be your life.”


Unpaid overtime? No chance. Work over the weekend? Pass. The concept even has international roots, with ties to the ‘lying flat’ movement in China ― a similar movement that has young workers simply checking the boxes.


Like anything Gen Z employees do, this has resulted in a flood of ink in the professional world (this newsletter included), trying to figure out what it might mean. Advocates have called it a quiet little rebellion for overworked employees and critics have dismissed it as a coping mechanism.


But that it begs the question, “Coping with what?” probably proves it’s a bit of both. It is, if nothing else, another indication that the growing mismatch between the expectation of aging managers and their younger cohort of employees, is no longer something ignorable ― and that for the next generation, even the core tenets of what we’ve known as professional culture for decades are now firmly up for debate. Kieran Delamont

ENTREPRENEURSHIP

The fall of Free Agent Nation

As the labour market heals from the pandemic, a key segment of workers is disappearing rapidly: the self-employed 

GEN Z MAY think they are quietly quitting, but one group whose plummeting numbers have taken the labour market by surprise is self-employed individuals, who closed their businesses in droves during the pandemic and simply never came back.


Self-employment was spiking in Canada prior to the pandemic but dropped off a cliff when March 2020 rolled around. And their numbers have yet to recover, with self-employment down 10 per cent at the end of 2021― a point when traditional employment was more than recovered.


Labour economists point to a couple different factors. For one thing, the uncertainty coupled with Covid supports that were more favourable to larger businesses meant that many self-employed folks took the opportunity to rejoin the company fold. Tech companies, especially, expanded quickly and spent a lot on new employees as they rapidly transitioned to remote models.


They also point out that immigration has slowed, and that immigrants have traditionally been attracted to self-employment. Similar stats have been seen in Britain, where the rate of self-employment had been rising consistently for two decades – and has plummeted in the last two years.


While some economists see it as a wrinkle in the labour market, others are more critical, and say these stats suggest that government aid helped many businesses survive but were overly tough on those with less traditional income streams. Many self-employed people reported difficulties accessing aid, and as aid qualifications tightened, many were kicked off of the programs. Income requirements meant that one good week of commissions in January 2021, for instance, could eliminate your benefits for the next month.


To Richard Dias, founder and head of research at Acorn Macro Consulting in Halifax, it could have long-lasting impacts in terms of disincentivizing self-employment.


“After doing all the right things, they burned through their savings,” he told the CBC. “There’s no recognition, frankly, of that profound systemic error and the prolonged impacts that it’s going to have on our economy.” Kieran Delamont

Terry Talks: What do luggage and layoffs have in common? More than you might think

If this summer’s airport chaos has shown us anything, it is that there’s a right and wrong way to handle stressful situations. And it’s no different with outplacement. Employees shouldn’t have to navigate change alone. With a well-planned transition process, exiting employees can move forward in a positive direction quickly and with solid support.

WATCH HERE
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LEADERSHIP

For crying out loud

Braden Wallake wanted to be honest about the tough parts of being a CEO. It didnt go over well

YOU NEVER WANT to be the main character on the internet, so last week was a bad one for Braden Wallake, last week’s main character of the internet.


Wallake is the CEO of the B2B marketing agency HyperSocial, and he was doing layoffs. Layoffs are not popular these days, and the people doing them even less so. But Wallake wasn’t making this decision lightly, and was deeply (and perhaps even earnestly) moved by it. But he then made his fatal mistake: snapping a selfie of himself crying about the layoffs, and posting it on his LinkedIn.


“I just want people to see, that not every CEO out there is cold-hearted and doesn’t care when he/she have to lay people off,” he said.


The internet, of course, was merciless. “LinkedIn is not a real place. This CEO laid people off and posted a picture of himself crying about the decision. I wish I was making this stuff up 😂😂😂😂,” wrote one Twitter user. “We need to shut down LinkedIn,” wrote another.


A lot of hate was directed Wallake’s way, most of it probably unearned and much of it meant maliciously. Making your employee’s layoffs about you is a bit cringe, and some ribbing is to be expected. Laying off your employees may make you look like a cartoon villain, but that’s sort of the job you signed up for when you became a boss.


But while many were quick to mock him, others saw a sliver of sincerity ― or whatever LinkedIn passes off as sincerity. As Shannon Palus at Slate writes, “I am inclined to have a little sympathy for Wallake. His business does not seem to be going great. Vice explains that he currently takes a salary of zero dollars, down from a stipend of $250 a week.”


In short, Wallake’s biggest problem wasn’t that he laid people off, or that he was sad about it; it was that he went on a website known for cringey posts and posted serious cringe.


“I submit the biggest reason we should all go a tiny bit easy on this dude,” continued Palus. “Wallake’s post is only slightly more embarrassing than your typical post in the LinkedIn news feed.” Kieran Delamont

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INVESTING

The metaverse real estate boom turns into a bust

Nobody is buying homes in the real world, and nobodys buying them in the fake one, either

IF YOU HADN’T noticed, real estate in London and across the country is in a major phase of correction. But if you had pinned your land speculation hopes on the new, poorly understood but much hyped metaverse, where ‘land’ investors were raking in millions, then we’ve got some further bad news: it’s not just correcting over there, it’s in total freefall.


Metaverse land prices have crashed 80 per cent. Trading volume has crashed even further, down to just 10 per cent of its November 2021 peaks. All those stories of savvy investors making six figures on virtual land next to Snoop Dogg have dried up.


Enter Mark Cuban, who last weekend went on the crypto YouTube channel Altcoin Daily to attempt to put the final nail in this coffin. “That’s just the dumbest shit ever,” the Shark Tank investor and Dallas Mavericks owner said. “I still thought it was dumb to do the real estate. That was great money for them, you know, but that wasn’t based off a utility.”


Whether the virtual land market can ever recover to its 2021 peaks ultimately depends on whether or not the concept of virtual land remains a part of whatever the metaverse evolves into. Right now, its clunky avatars and boxy digital universe are closer to objects of ridicule than anything, but the idea of a parallel digital economy with divergent forms of value creation may not be fully dead.


In other words, if the powers that be decided that the metaverse ought to resemble a place you can go, then the value of that faux-land may go up; if not, then it will probably just go into the history books as one of 2021’s many market curiosities. Kieran Delamont

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