Resign quietly as the labor market evolves

Jill Schlesinger

As inflation and rising interest rates rock the world, the US labor market has been one of the bright spots in the economy. While job growth is slowing, it is not yet showing red recession warnings, at least among hiring managers.

That said, some yellow flashers indicate a slowdown in employment is ahead.

In August, the number of job vacancies plunged from 11.2 million to 10.1 million, the biggest one-month drop since the start of the pandemic, although they remain well above the levels of before the pandemic.

There was more evidence that the scorching summer jobs market was cooling, when the government reported that 263,000 jobs had been created in September, a solid level but below the monthly average since the start of the year of 420,000 and about half of the 2021 monthly average of 562,000.

Wages are up 5% from a year ago as many large employers (such as Walmart, Amazon and Meta) cut or freeze hiring. And job openings in leisure and hospitality, which still have 1.1 million fewer employees than before the pandemic, fell to 1.4 million in August from 1.99 million at the end of 2021.

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As the downturn continues, many are wondering if “silent renunciation,” the trend that is creating generational conflict in the workplace, persists.

Quitting smoking quietly has become commonplace among young people in their twenties who are desperately trying to create boundaries between work and real life. The idea behind the movement isn’t to quit your job, but to stop going beyond it at work, because according to Zaiad Khan, one of the early adopters of the phrase on TikTok, “Work doesn’t is not your life. Your worth is not determined by your productive output.”

While many previous generations struggled to find work-life balance, there are some differences as to the current variation on this theme.

To state the obvious, COVID-19 has finally proven to millions of office workers that dragging themselves around a physical workspace is a waste of time and possibly a productivity killer. Yet if you’ve been lucky enough to work from home, the lines have blurred, leaving many overwhelmed and suffering from work/Zoom fatigue.

The World Health Organization confirmed these sentiments in a report warning that “without proper planning and organization and without health and safety support, the impact of working from home on physical and mental health and social well-being workers can be significant.It can lead to isolation, burnout, depression, domestic violence, musculoskeletal and other injuries, eye strain, increased consumption of tobacco and alcohol, time spent sitting and in front of screens and unhealthy weight gain”.

Meanwhile, as the economy opened up, more employers wanted staff back in the office.

The rationale seemed on the one hand real: “We want people, especially those who have been hired in the midst of the pandemic, to interact with each other, learn about company culture and allow for smoother mentoring.”

But for some workers, the demand to be in person seemed to control and punish the very people whose productivity and hard work were helping companies make tons of money amid the pandemic.

Can’t we all get along and admit a few truths here?

To executives clinging to the old system: you can’t put the genie back in the bottle. There’s no proof that productivity suffers when you provide flexibility to workers. In fact, they’re generally much happier and more engaged when they’re in control of their schedule.

For workers, being in person with your co-workers will remind you that you really like some of them. And of course, showing up physically will help you spend time with your fuddy-duddy bosses, who care about time in the office.

Jill Schlesinger, CFP, is a CBS News business analyst. She welcomes comments and questions at [email protected]

Jill Schlesinger, CFP, is a CBS News business analyst. She welcomes comments and questions at [email protected]

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