Over the last year, I’ve read some new terms being used relating to the workforce. The first is “the great resignation” and the other is “quiet quitting.” As someone who is endlessly fascinated with psychology, these terms piqued my interest. So I did some research, with the references listed below.
Turns out the great resignation is predominately related to mid-level employees (Cook). They are the employees who have been around long enough to know their job and how to do it well, but not in senior management positions. They can include supervisors and managers, but also the worker bees that have been at the company for several years.
It is believed that part of the inspiration for these employees to resign came from the reevaluation people did as a result of the two-plus years dealing with COVID (Cook).
As I read the article, I realized I am a mid-level employee. I’ve been in the workforce for more than 30 years, with an eclectic mix of experience. The last seven years have been in the corporate environment, for the first time. Dealing with caseloads and cubicles and office gossip and drama, the show “The Office” and the movie “Office Space” made sense on an entirely new level.
The newness of the environment was more exciting than anything at first, there was lots to learn not just from the environment but the job itself as it was a new career for me. As with all new things, the newness wears off and you get to reality.
Caseload-based jobs frequently shift. Management tries to keep everyone at a similar level, to keep things fair, at least that is the rationale management gave for increasing my caseload. Since when is life fair? The problem with this rationale is it encourages quiet quitting, just doing enough to stay off management's radar but not doing any more than they need to do so their caseload doesn’t get “too low” and thus get someone else’s work. I was never the type to sandbag, I took pride in the quality of my work, but it’s challenging to not get demoralized when the caseload shifts happen and then a surge of new claims happens. I questioned the value of working so diligently if ultimately my caseload was just going to go back up anyway.
I believe management underestimates the impact of “keeping things fair.” The impact is an unrelenting drain on my drive and motivation and desire to do a great job. I don’t like that. Like I said earlier, I’m the type that takes pride in their work.
So let’s look at this from the employee perspective. Work hard and reduce your caseload and only for management to give you some other cases to bring you back up to the average or you can not work hard, not reduce your caseload, and management will reduce it for you and give it to someone else to bring you back down to the average.
From management's perspective, I can see how they would rather have the hard-working employee work on cases instead of someone who is just doing enough to stay employed. I get it, but the way they go about it creates the average employee out of diligent hard-working employees. If you have employees that started off totally rocking it only to have them slow down to more of an average employee, you may be a fault for creating that dynamic.
Cook, I. September 15, 2021. Who Is Driving the Great Resignation? Harvard Business Review