The Corona crisis has frustrated many workers. Since then, this frustration has manifested itself in trends that labor market researchers have observed and to which they have given keywords such as “quiet quitting” and “rage applying”. Older readers will find these very familiar.

The past few years have been wild on the labor market: first there were complete closures of companies in some sectors, then short-time work, then working from home, then wild regulations on who, when, with what kind of test or vaccination is allowed to go back to the office or factory, then inflation rose many times faster than wages. This caused frustration, also or especially among young employees. Fashion trends have formed from this, how young people react to these ongoing crises. And because nowadays every fashion trend has a nice English catchphrase, this has also happened on the job market. The phenomena are not entirely new. You need to know.

“Quiet quitting” is considered the major labor market trend of the past year, originating in the USA. In plain English, one would simply say that someone only does the bare minimum of work that they are contractually obligated to do. Employees who “quit internally” no longer work overtime, no longer commit themselves more than necessary and hardly bring their own ideas to the job. The practice got a name and a lot of attention when a representative survey in the US last year revealed that around half of all workers had already mentally finished their job.

However, the numbers from the survey are disputed because the market research institute Gallup interpreted the actual answers of respondents in this way. Nevertheless, the proportion of “quiet quitters” is likely to be high – not only in the USA. China already knew a similar trend in 2021, which they called “lying flat”. In general, the question is how new “quiet quitting” is as a social trend. Some researchers argue that according to surveys conducted 20 years ago, workers were no more engaged in their jobs than they are today.

“Rage applying” is considered the new job trend of 2023, but a year and a half ago it made it into the “Urban Dictionary”, a kind of online directory for American youth language. It is defined as the act of applying to as many other companies as possible, often indiscriminately, out of anger and frustration at one’s current job.

As with “quiet quitting”, it is also questionable to what extent this is actually a new mass trend, or simply a phenomenon that has always existed to a certain extent and that has now simply been given a new name. Theoretically, it is quite conceivable that in times of economic crisis more people are dissatisfied with their jobs and therefore apply to other companies – perhaps also more indiscriminately.

In general, there is nothing wrong with participating in one or both trends if you are dissatisfied with your job. Nobody is forced to put in more effort than necessary and nobody is forced not to even look for new job opportunities. In both cases, the only thing that applies is that you should not overdo it, i.e. do not intentionally harm your current employer with “quiet quitting” through too little effort or deliberate sabotage, or with “rage applying” send applications to companies whose jobs you are not at all interested in to have.

If you are dissatisfied with your job, you could currently have a very good chance of finding a better one. After all, depending on the industry, there is currently a major shortage of skilled workers in Germany. This means companies need to think of ways to attract and retain qualified employees. This can mean higher salaries, but also more conveniences such as permanent home office. According to a survey by the Ifo Institute, HR managers generally expect wages to rise by an average of 5.5 percent this year. With a job change, these pay rises are usually higher than with a normal pay rise on the job.

Websites that report on “quiet quitting” and “rage applying” often like to headline the “trend that employers are now trembling about”. That’s a little exaggerated. Of course, the risk for companies of losing good employees is currently somewhat higher because there is a shortage of such employees in many industries and the competition could poach people as a result.

In principle, however, employers should always ensure that employees enjoy their jobs and have fun with them. This not only protects against the loss of employees, but also motivates them to work perhaps a little more than they are contractually obligated to, and also generally increases productivity in the company. So well-paid and well-treated employees are always the best – regardless of whether there are current trends such as “quiet quitting” and “rage applying” or not.

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