In a Gallup poll, nearly 50 percent of the US workforce are quiet quitters. Otherwise known as slackers from early generations, the term means doing the bare minimum without much enthusiasm to continue getting a paycheck. Post Covid, America’s work attitude changed. The typical 9-5 workday and “climbing the corporate ladder” have vanished. With technological advances, many white-collar employees seek flexible work-from-home options to help deal with everyday life’s trials and tribulations that weren’t available in years past. The power shifted to the employees for a brief second, clamoring for more and more, pushing employers to the brink until now.
And boom, the white-collar recession hit. A recession is a period of economic decline that can significantly impact the job market. During this time, companies cut jobs, freeze hiring, and unemployment rates rise. While traditional blue-collar careers (retail, hospitality, manufacturing) suffer from labor shortages, it’s quite the opposite for the typical office worker who can do their jobs remotely. During Covid and shortly after, tech companies went on unmitigated hiring sprees fueled by cheap VC funding, bringing new employees at salaries well above the market price. As inflation grew due to supply chain issues and government stimulus, interest rates rose. Then easy VC money dried up, forcing companies to watch their bottom line to survive, and that meant layoffs.
According to MarketWatch, Google is laying off 10,000 low-performing employees, a mere 5% of their 187,000 workforce. Entrepreneur.com says, “the employees who don’t go above and beyond could be let go first if a recession becomes a reality.” While quiet quitters may find peace in their lives with more balance, it could come at a cost, especially if one needs their job to survive or keep a roof over their head as employers look for ways to cut costs.
On the bright side, even as the industry giants – Facebook, Google, and Amazon lay off en masse, hiring remains strong, with the unemployment rate at a healthy 3.5%. As companies seek to cull the herd, what can they do to replace lost productivity?
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella stated, “tech companies will have to become more productive with fewer resources” at the World Economic Forum. In the RSPA article, Combat Your Business’ Recessionary Fear With AI, the author states, “with the democratization of AI, businesses have the tools to reduce labor expenses while remaining profitable.” AI, the ability for computers to think and act human, can automate tasks, reduce costs, and allow employers to operate with fewer employees.
Layoffs aren’t fun for both employer and employee. However, one’s declining work ethic can severely and adversely affect an organization—employees who aren’t fully engaged or motivated lead to low morale and productivity. While some blame is on the employer, some also fall on the employee. Would you want your doctor to quiet quit if they are operating on you? Or the first responder not giving their all when your loved one’s life is on the line?
The old saying goes, “whoever has the gold makes the rules.” While no employer is perfect, they are the ones that provide the employee the ability to provide for themselves or their family until said employee finds a new job or starts their own business. The former hard chargers of years past may be in for a rude awakening. Eventually, the economic situation will stabilize. The excellent news is that AI can help employers become profitable with less labor which is a significant portion of their expense.