What is a “silent shutdown”? Toronto employment experts explain

A new phrase has recently punctuated conversations about workplace and office culture: “leave quietly.”

The term appeared widely this month, trending on Twitter and sparking a hashtag on TikTok that has racked up more than 30 million views.

“Quietly quitting is the concept of meeting your job expectations and not going above and beyond,” Andrea Bartlett, director of human operations at Humi, a Toronto-based human resources software company, told CTV News Toronto. Wednesday.

Those who quietly quit still go to work every day and complete their required duties, but will not stay overtime or take on additional projects.

Although the term has recently exploded, the concept itself is not new, says Bartlett, and instead shows a need for reflection within our work cultures.

“It’s not what I would consider a new thing – it’s just a different name for a concept that has always existed in the workforce,” she said.

She also pointed out that there is nothing wrong with simply meeting expectations at work, and that many choose to implement this limit.

“You need to balance your workforce with people who will meet expectations,” she said. “Advancing or moving up the corporate ladder, if you will, may not be important to them, and that’s completely normal.”

Instead, her problem with this iteration of the concept is that she says it blames the employee rather than looking at the larger picture of workplace culture.

“Workers are so caught up in the hustle culture that they now have to demonstrate their burnout by stepping back from work to do more,” she said.

According to a recent 72-page study of more than 5,500 Canadian workers, 35% of those in the workforce reported experiencing some degree of burnout, and one in four said work had a significant impact on their Mental Health.

Dr. Philip Oreopoulos, a professor of economics and public policy at the University of Toronto, says the newfound popularity of silent quitting reflects trends seen in the changing labor market.

“Over the past few years, we have seen efforts by employers to extract more and more productivity from workers while paying them the same or less,” he told CTV News Toronto on Wednesday.

“As a result, I think it has generated some resentment among workers in a way that they are pushing back to try to figure out if there are other alternatives, whether it’s working in another job or just to work less.”

Much like recent talk of a “big quit” among North American workers, Oreopoulos argues that quitting quietly stems from workers feeling undervalued, underpaid and disengaged from their jobs.

Unfortunately, there could be consequences for those who choose to stick to the minimum, he says, especially in industries where pay reflects a need to be on call at various times, work long hours or to engage in extra work.

“Doing less than expected can cause problems for these workers because the employer can fetch someone else at the same salary,” he said.

To address concerns about employee morale and workplace culture, Bartlett says a first step would be for the province to ensure companies properly implement new ‘right to disconnect’ policies. .

“A policy by itself is not enough,” she said. “You must embed this policy as behavior within your workplace.”

Ultimately, Oreopoulos says it’s important for workers to feel appreciated and that one way to deal with resentment might be to raise wages.

“I think the best thing employers can do is make sure their workers feel wanted and part of the process.”

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