Vincent Dandridge stands behind the counter at Scoopy Doo Gelato, where he once had to work 22 days straight. Photo by Addison Hinkle.
“Quiet quitting” is not a new concept for Columbia stores with burned out workers or businesses that have bad management.
Quiet quitting is a newly coined term for the act of workers doing only their assigned responsibilities at work — no more and no less.
The labor shortage has workers being asked to take on more than their job description to meet demands. Now, workers are setting boundaries to put themselves, not necessarily their employers or customers, first.
University of South Carolina professor Anthony Nyberg said these boundaries are coming from a new generation.
“What’s different is that this time people are a little more aware of taking care of themselves, in part because your generation is just more attuned to paying attention to physical and mental well being,” said Nyberg, who is chair of the management department at the Darla Moore School of Business.
Vincent Dandridge, a “Gen-Z” employee at Scoopy Doo Gelato in Five Points, has heard of quiet quitting through social media. He said the idea of it appeals to him because of his own experiences. Dandridge started to feel overwhelmed on the job after one of the business’s three employees got sick. He said he and his boss ended up working 22 days in a row.
“I think that was the breaking point where I realized I’m not getting paid enough to do this,” Dandridge said. “I need to actually do what I’ve been hired to do, and not overextend myself to the point of breakdown.”
Dandridge thinks the phrase “quiet quitting” arose as a result of the self-inflicted guilt employees have from not going above and beyond.
“That’s not even close to quitting,” Dandridge said. “It’s doing what you’re actually being paid to do instead of busting your ass 24/7.”
It’s not surprising that workers such as Dandridge are experiencing these feelings, according to Erica VonNessen, a labor data analyst for the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce.
“If your business really needs another employee and they can’t find one, where is that work going to go?” VonNessen said. “It’s going to be spread out amongst the current employees. So I can see why there would maybe be an uptick in talking about quiet quitting.”
A couple doors from Scoopy Doo, the phrase “quiet quitting” hadn’t even hit the ears of Jenn McCallister, co-owner of Loose Lucy’s, a clothing shop. Small retailers and restaurant workers know they can’t clock out at the same time every day.
“We can’t really operate that way, ” McCallister said. “It’s not an office environment. I always tell our employees that it may say on your schedule that you get off at 6:30, but we may not get out of here ’til 7:30, and you just have to be aware that that’s a possibility.”
McCallister said she thinks of employees as family members. That’s why the shop has stayed in business for as long as it has, she said.
“I take a lot of pride in the fact that not only we’ve been here for 30 years and our customers are happy here, but that our employees are too,” McCallister said.
Not all employers have McCallister’s mindset.
Nyberg, the professor, said businesses with bad bosses drive employees to stop working “above and beyond.”
“Once an organization has treated people badly enough — that they no longer want to do what is sometimes considered extra — then you get that behavior,” Nyberg said. “So it’s a consequence of treating people poorly.”
If businesses want employees to stop following this social media trend as they work to combat the country’s labor shortage, then the old model of work needs to be replaced. The new model must include a “great deal of trust among managers and co-workers,” according to Mark Anthony, a senior associate director at USC’s Career Center.
“Managers are going to need to rethink their leadership styles,” Anthony said. “Workers are expecting flexibility in where and when they do their work. Employers that aren’t willing to recognize and respond to this are going to continue to lose workers.”
ABOUT THE JOURNALISTS
Crooks is a senior journalism major with a minor in business administration at the University of South Carolina. As assistant copy desk chief for the student-run Daily Gamecock, she edits stories, newsletters and tweets for an audience of more than 48,000 people. This past summer, Crooks learned multimedia skills covering the Spain’s soccer culture in Barcelona.
Hinkle is an aspiring breaking news journalist with a minor in business administration from Toledo, Ohio. She is a former writer for The Daily Gamecock newspaper and was copy chief of Garnet and Black magazine. Hinkle has interned for multiple news organizations, including the Sylvania Advantage and the Leelanau Enterprise, voted one of the best newspapers in Michigan. Hinkle’s priority as a journalist is to cover underrepresented groups. One of her works explores the lack of support for college students raising a family.