All of Germany is talking about the alleged Quiet Quitting trend. All of Germany is talking about an invention. Anyone who promises to change the world because of a few listless employees is exaggerating excessively.
Spurred on by posts in social media and fueled by misunderstood statistics, self-declared labor experts are predicting an epidemic: young Germans in particular only went to work because of the salary; internally they would have quit long ago and only did what was absolutely necessary. “Everything was better in the old days,” is what they say. “Mom and Dad were still pushing.” Mom and Dad were just as keen or as little as we were today. As part of the generation that supposedly has already quit, I say: Quiet quitting is a made-up trend.
Of course, many of the apparent justifications that believers in Quiet-Quitting give for the job skepticism of young people are correct: Our generation has become unaffordable for their parents’ house near the big city. Thanks to the shortage of skilled workers, we do not fear unemployment. Corona lockdowns have shown us how much life takes place outside of the office.
That’s why employees sometimes go on sabbaticals in their mid-30s. This is new, no question. Quiet quitting, however, represents a different level of escalation. There are three proofs that it is only talked about:
Even if we want to convince ourselves that our parents worked flat out every ten hours, some of them were already doing their time or switching to quieter jobs. Our childish naivety just couldn’t imagine it. Fired up by social media, we now recognize the terrible work truth and react with shock. That says more about us than about actual changes.
Of course, it may be startling when one in five employees say they deliver the bare minimum. But if you want to understand this number, you have to ask yourself how many employees ten or 20 years ago thought the same way. Surveys show: there were more.
“Quiet Quitting” may have given the phenomenon a sexy name. It’s not new. Today’s employees tend to be more motivated to work than they used to be.
Self-proclaimed quiet-quitter understanders like to explain the supposed work-weariness of young people with dreams that have gotten out of reach. Anyone who says that without hope of owning a home in the big city will lose their desire to work may fall in love with their own story. He’s still wrong anyway.
Even today, almost everyone could afford a house in my parents’ village. My parents could not have paid for a house in Munich 30 years ago. My grandparents have all lived in rented homes all their lives and still enjoyed working. The allegedly huge differences wither away on closer inspection.
Very few work for a house anyway. Like millions of people who have been holding our country together in Germany for decades with no prospect of concrete gold, I like my colleagues, want to make my contribution to society and at some point I was taught by my parents: “If you do something, do it properly.” Cross-generational human needs motivate our generation to work; house prices or not.
Anyone who claims that young people lack the drive to work in the face of climate change should watch a James Dean film or a Nirvana song lyrics: Every generation knows hopelessness; their icons expressed this. It makes no difference whether there is a threat of self-destruction due to the threat of nuclear war or climate change.
But people always went to work. Because they would rather help contain danger than aggravate it through indifference. That was true of the punks of the ’70s, the grunge kids of the ’90s, and it will be true of today’s generation as well.
Anyone who is currently talking about the great lack of work seems intelligent, but is telling a new version of the same fairy tale that people have been telling themselves nonsense for decades: In the 1950s, many claimed that soon every house would have a small nuclear power plant. In the 1970s, they believed that humanity would soon colonize Mars; in the 1990s, there will never be war again; and in the 2000s, terrorism kills us all. Every time reviews new things about.
Quiet-quitting narrators do the same. Because a few people on social media claim that they are doing as little as possible, they tell us that soon everyone will only work in listless mode. And because everyone likes to think that young people today are very different than they used to be, nobody considers that the world is developing more along the long-term average than completely upside down.
The dreams that drove many of our parents to work in the shop continue to dream GenZ and GenY today. The fact that they work fewer hours is in line with the centuries-old trend. That they sometimes feel more, sometimes less motivation during this time, as well. They still do their best.