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October 21, 2022

‘Acting Your Wage’ Is Detrimental To Long-Term Career Success

Acting your wage is the next viral trend emanating from TikTok after quiet quitting. According to the TikTokers, if your boss is only paying you minimum wage, that means you should just do the bare minimum amount of work. It’s about setting boundaries. The ethos is that if the company and managers fail to offer empathy, […]

Acting your wage is the next viral trend emanating from TikTok after quiet quitting. According to the TikTokers, if your boss is only paying you minimum wage, that means you should just do the bare minimum amount of work.

It’s about setting boundaries. The ethos is that if the company and managers fail to offer empathy, encouragement, the compensation you deserve and psychological safety to do your job without the fear of being yelled at or abused, there is no reason to overextend yourself working and let it affect your quality of life.

Your efforts should directly match the rate of pay. According to proponents of this work style, there's no reason to work after 5 p.m. or on weekends. While white-collar quiet quitters are just biding time, blue-collar “act your wagers” are only doing precisely what they are paid to do and nothing more.

Variations Of Quiet Quitting And Acting Your Wage Have Been Around Forever

Quiet quitting and acting your wage are nothing new. There have always been people who just coasted along. In the ‘90s, Gen-Xers were labeled as “slackers” by Baby Boomer bosses, believing that they were lazy and just coasting through the workday. During the pandemic, remote workers were accused of cyberloafing. In the 1960s counterculture movement, the Boomers were considered lazy hippies by their Greatest Generation parents. In the ‘50s, the Beat Generation was derided as “dangerous, marijuana-smoking miscreants.”

Young People Were Dealt A Bad Hand

It’s understandable, especially for young people, to be disenchanted and disengaged with work. Gen-Zers grew up in the shadow of Sept. 11. They lived through the great financial crisis, the pandemic, wars, losing their senior year of high school and a chunk of their college experience when schools sent them home, political and social upheaval, runaway inflation and high-interest rates making it nearly impossible to save money, purchase a home or lead a life anywhere near their parents’ lifestyle.

Job postings for entry-level positions require three or more years of relevant experience. Companies will extend an offer, but it's an unpaid internship or merely a contract with a vague promise that it can turn into a permanent, full-time role.

The Acting Your Wage Mindset Is Hazardous To Your Career Health

Despite the bad hand dealt to this cohort, slow-walking your job isn’t the answer. You may temporarily feel good when you say “no” to the boss and assert your autonomy of not being forced into working long hours without any appreciation or extra compensation.

After a while, this attitude can become entrenched. It's an “us against them” mentality. Workers will spend more time extricating themselves from working than the actual work.

You Can Do Better Than Just Scraping By

Instead of getting caught up with this tit-for-tat mentality, break the mold. You’re wasting precious time working a dead-end job that you hate. Determine what you want to do with your work life. Think of what type of job or career would make you happy and can offer a more-than-fair compensation. Then, embark upon pursuing your dreams.

You might as well start where you are now. Let the boss know that you feel overlooked and underutilized. The employer and employee can job-craft a solution to improve the situation.

The slacking can't go on indefinitely. Either the manager will get ticked off, or the cyberloafer will get bored and either move on to another job or step up their game. Rather than coasting, show management how awesome you are by being productive. While everyone else is on cruise control, you must rev up the engine and blow past all your co-workers. It won’t be too difficult, as they don’t care.

People will start noticing you. Managers will want you on their team and projects. Promotions will come your way. Recruiters will hear about you and headhunt you for better-paying roles at other firms. Your confidence will grow, along with the skills that you're honing. The best revenge on your boss and company is to succeed and make more money than they earn.

If you’ve tried to grow and advance within your organization to no avail, don’t default to acting your wage. Take the loss and move on. Start contacting recruiters, ask people within your network for job leads, check out job boards, go on informational interviews and acquire any new skills or credentials needed to procure the job you want.

How To Find An Act-Your-Wage Or Quiet Quitter

This cohort is not currently inclined to leave their jobs right now and don’t hate what they do for a living, but are not motivated or energized. When you are in the office, it's easy to pick them out. They’re the ones who are looking over their shoulder to see if anyone notices them scrolling through social media instead of doing their job. They arrive at the office at the crack of 9:45 a.m., disappear for more than an hour for lunch, can’t be found when needed and sneak out the door at around 4:35 p.m.

When working remotely, it's easier to coast. You go through the motions. The person will put in the bare minimum amount of effort to ensure they don’t get called out by the boss. They’ll work a little, then scroll through social media, maybe watch a Netflix series, call some friends, take a nap and slow roll the day away.

These folks don’t want to be fired; however, they aren't engaged and don’t see long-term potential for growth, so there isn't a burning need to put in a lot of effort. It's a delicate balancing act of just working enough not to get busted. Some also choose to balance family activities, hobbies, food shopping and other nonwork-related matters during the day.

Disengaged At Work

According to a Gallup poll, only 33% of American workers are engaged in their jobs. More than 50% self-reported that they're "just showing up" and 17% describe themselves as "actively disengaged." These workers lack a real close connection to their job. They go through the motions. They’ll likely talk badly about a manager behind their back, gossip, spread rumors and treat customers and clients rudely. This toxic attitude could infect others and become detrimental to the company.

Cruise control could also be a result of a person feeling unappreciated, not given a voice at the table and overlooked for promotions. In this instance, it would be productive for the coaster to discuss the matter with the supervisor.

Being engaged at work is essential for the success of the individual, business and customers. If a person loves what she does for a living and derives meaning and purpose in her daily responsibilities, she’ll do a great job. Her boss, peers, subordinates and customers will appreciate her efforts and show gratitude.

Antiwork Reddit And Lying Flat In China

The r/antiwork subreddit “Unemployment For All” on Reddit has 2.2 million “idlers” who subscribe to the mission statement, boasting, “A subreddit for those who want to end work, are curious about ending work, want to get the most out of a work-free life, want more information on anti-work ideas and want personal help with their own jobs [and] work-related struggles.”

Idlers complain that they are frustrated by their jobs and bad, overbearing bosses. Other members say they aren’t inclined to search for a new job and just want to quit and stay home. The postings on the site reflect their anger and resentment. They contend that companies take advantage of them, push for longer hours than they were initially told, pay them inadequately and demean them.

Quiet quitting and acting your wage is happening in China too. As China was ramping up to take on America’s economy, tech titans in the country were celebrated. Billionaire Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, called for a tireless work ethic, on behalf of his employees, to eclipse the Americans. His work culture is known as "996." Ma wanted everyone to work 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week.

Like the idlers on Reddit, the younger generation of Chinese workers have started to push back against Ma’s rise-and-grind culture. Gen-Z workers are accused of slacking off by refusing to work overtime, delivering medium-quality work, going to the toilet frequently and staying there for a long time, playing with their mobile phones or reading novels at work.

Not Everyone Is Slacking

In addition to the r/antiwork subreddit, there is also a large r/fatFIRE group. This crowd eschews the traditional wealth management advice of drastically cutting costs and living a frugal lifestyle to save money. The more than 325,00 members talk about ways to get rich. These motivated, success-oriented people discuss stocks, business deals, how to find high-paying jobs and other ways to make money and leave the workforce in their 30s or early 40s.

Their mantra is to “retire with a fat stash” and live off the dividends and payouts from their investments and side businesses. Many seek a cash flow of around $100,000 a year as the benchmark for calling it quits and leaving the work world. Their definition of having enough money to spend $100,000 yearly in retirement requires a portfolio of around $2.5 million.

Article written by:  Orville Lynch, Jr.
Mr. Lynch, a member of the legendary two-time Ohio Civil Rights Hall of Fame Award winning Lynch Family. Mr. Lynch is a nationally recognized urban media executive with over 20+ years of diversity recruitment and serial entrepreneur with numerous multi-million dollar exits.

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