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How ‘quiet quitting’ may hurt your career

Brown Ambition Podcast Co-Host Mandi Woodruff-Santos explains how the latest phenomenon of "quiet quitting" can actually sabotage a person's career and job prospects.

Video Transcript

RACHELLE AKUFFO: The August CPI print coming in at 8.3% year over year versus 8.1% expected. And of course, the cost of goods continues to rise. Inflation means it's eating into workers' wages. Mandi Woodruff-Santos, "Brown Ambition" podcast co-host and Yahoo Finance contributor, joining us now to discuss. So Mandi, give us some context here. How much is this now currently eating into wages?

MANDI WOODRUFF-SANTOS: Well, listen, it's no question that inflation has not just started to eat into wages. It has been months now of workers feeling like their paychecks are simply not going farther-- as far as they should. I mean, you're struggling for everything from-- I know that gas prices are a little bit down, but still at the grocery store, you're still feeling it. So for workers, I completely understand why they would feel frustrated that companies do not seem to have gotten the memo and caught up quite yet.

Even though we are seeing record wage increases despite these challenges, workers are still kind of feeling like, where's that raise at, y'all? And that's why we're seeing phenomenons like this whole quiet quitting thing start to take off. And that's what I'm here to hopefully talk to you guys about.

SEANA SMITH: Yeah, Mandi, let's talk about the quiet quitting trend because I had never heard of it. The term, "quiet quitting," I know exactly what it means. To me, it means that people are slacking off in the workforce. But you're pointing out that there's some dangers to this. What are they?

MANDI WOODRUFF-SANTOS: Listen, I want to be clear. I am completely empathetic with any worker out there who is feeling like, whoa, I am being asked to go above and beyond, and I'm not even being paid a living wage, or I'm not even being paid sort of what my market value is. At the same time, I do think that there are some risks involved and that you have more to lose than gain by so-called quiet quitting.

First and foremost, you've got to think about your professional brand. I talk about this until I'm blue in the face, and I still need to talk about it more. Your professional brand is so important, not just where you are now, but this is the powerful enticement, the powerful magnet that's going to attract more lucrative opportunities to you. Not if you're known as being the one who's, like you said, slacking off or just doing the bare minimum. How do you expect to get referred by former colleagues or people who interact with you at work for opportunities if you're just kind of known as the one who's not really bringing their A-game?

RACHELLE AKUFFO: And Mandi, people might be short-sighted in sort of their quiet quitting. But-- because talk about negotiating power. Obviously, that doesn't just refer to the wage you might get in your current job, but even your next job in the position you're putting yourself in.

MANDI WOODRUFF-SANTOS: Yeah, exactly. You may feel like you're being underpaid, but I'm telling you, the recruiter or the hiring manager that you were interviewing for that you would love to hire you because they're going to pay you so much more, they don't know what you're earning, and they don't really care. What they do care about is what is the impact to your team and how can you illustrate that, certainly, on your resume, but also in the conversation and the interview process.

So think about, what kind of impact am I making at my current job? And how much is that going to impress my future employer, not the one that you've got today. You have to think beyond the job that you have now, and think beyond the passive aggressive approach of quiet quitting to kind of stick it to the man or stick it to your boss. And think about your future boss, right?

SEANA SMITH: Mandi, what about just core engagement? Because so many of these workers are saying that they don't feel engaged at work. Is there anything that they can maybe do to specifically help this? And also, how do you think working from home has kind of played into this trend, if at all?

MANDI WOODRUFF-SANTOS: Yeah, my heart really goes out to younger workers especially, because this is the time when you are so energetic, and you so need to make those human connections with your colleagues. And hey, I'm a mom now. I'm further along in my career. I love working from home because it fits my life. But I'm not there to be shoulder to shoulder with the younger recruits coming in, so I get why maybe they're feeling less engaged.

That being said, I don't want this whole quiet quitting phenomenon to give leadership or companies, organizations, sort of a cop-out, where they can say, oh, it's not us. This is just like a Gen Z problem. They're all just sort of dealing with lower standards of what they're going to bring to the table.

No, no, no, no, no. We need to really catch up as employers and senior leadership and recognize we need to bring people into offices, even if it's not full-time. Try to find new virtual ways to engage with them, if we can. Create new budgets to engage with people who are working remotely because at the end of the day, that's who the onus is on to create an engaging work environment, not your lowest paid youngest workers.

RACHELLE AKUFFO: And I want to ask you because a lot of people who are doing some not so quiet quitting on TikTok, sort of voicing their concerns that they're fed up with their job, but what is a more useful and productive way to sort of channel those frustrations into something that could perhaps lead to some solutions or to put you in a better position?

MANDI WOODRUFF-SANTOS: I know back in the day, we would just go to happy hour, have a drink, and kind of hash things out. Now we have only the internet to go to, right? Which is really unfortunate because not only is that potentially detrimental to your future career opportunities, it's very easy, and recruiters know exactly how to look you up on the internet and see what you have said about past employers. It may seem like a smart move today, but think about yourself 5, 10 years down the line before you make something like that super public.

Also, don't miss an opportunity to grow as a human being and a professional. If you've got an issue, do the right thing. Bring it to your manager, bring it to HR, and try to have a professional debate or conversation about it. Then, give them an opportunity to make things right. If they don't, then no one's going to blame you for finding a new opportunity elsewhere. But you have learned a great skill set that will make you a better professional and a better leader potentially on your own further along in your career.