Issue #40
#40 - "Letting it rot", "Quick Quitting", and "nice to meet you: what do you earn?"
October 21, 2022

What's up, everybody?

I'm in the Philippines this week, where my son is playing a baseball tournament. He recently took a liking to the sport: to playing it, but also to following teams, players and stats. And it occurred to me that baseball is as immersive as any other world the kids have gotten pulled into before: Harry Potter, Star Wars, Stranger Things, you name it. Once they're in, they're in, and the hole goes deep.

And of course, it has me thinking about another world -- the one Usman and I have a shared passion for. The world that pulled us in long ago, and won't let go: "the world of work".

But here's the thing: I feel like I know baseball. Sure, it's a complex game, and the players come and go. But the scale and speed of change pale in comparison to what we see happening in the world of work right now. To say nothing of the impact those changes are having on us.

This means that we may pay more attention to work, and talk more about it, Usman and I are just like everyone else: figuring it out as we go. It means that week-to-week, this newsletter is just the two of us observing, questioning, trying to make sense of what we see -- and sharing that out.

So it continues to be a privilege to get to learn and explore this with you. πŸ™πŸ»

This week we try and make sense of 3 stories together:

  • Quick -- not quiet -- quitting: is it a trend, and what does it mean?
  • How much do you make? -- are we finally turning the corner on the taboo work taboo?
  • "Letting it rot": what can we learn from the way the phenomenon -- and language -- of "quiet quitting"continues to evolve in China? (Teaser: quite a bit.)

Thanks for reading. Do have a great week!

Aki + Usman


#QuickQuitting #Vocab #PowerShift

LinkedIn has over 800M users, and an army of analysts and economists to sift through the trends and data those users generate. Per LinkedIn's analysis:

"It seems like U.S. workers are more comfortable with outright leaving their jobs quickly. The short tenure rate, or STR, which measures the fraction of positions that end after being held for less than a year, has increased across industries over the past couple of years.

"The rate at which employees quit within a year of starting a new job has been rising since August 2021, with the phenomenon peaking in March and continuing steadily since then, according to LinkedIn."

So it's early days, but to the extent quick quitting proves more than a fad, it's best understood in the context of the broader trend we see playing out over and over: a shift in power from employers to employees -- and the growing awareness on behalf of employees of that power.

It also means that the things organizations should be doing as a matter of course -- hiring well to avoid false positives, and ensuring a thoughtful, welcoming, and intentional onboarding process -- become even more urgent.

Kato Lujan Camacho sums things up nicely: "Employers expect me to make a great first impression within 90 days of onboarding. I expect them to do the same." Sounds pretty empowered to us. πŸ™ŒπŸ»


#Compensation #WorkTaboos #YoungPeopleToTheRescue

This read πŸ‘†πŸ» profiles Hannah Williams:

"Ms. Williams, 25, is the founder of Salary Transparent Street - a TikTok account with over 850,000 followers and 16.7 million likes. In her videos, she travels to different US cities and asks people on the street to stop and share their profession and salary."

[Her videos are really neat, and well-worth checking out.]

It turns out that younger people are more likely to answer Hannah's questions than older people; and women agree to share more often than men.

But it's not just young people who are agitating: California recently became the latest state to mandate that salary ranges be published alongside job openings.

From there, the article ropes in a couple of academics who hypothesize that talking about salary has always been "uncouth" because it makes us (employees) feel icky and self-conscious. Read: it's our fault.

Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. ❌

We don't talk about salary because it's in the interest of employers, managers -- and those earning the most in an organization -- for employees not to talk about salary. βœ…


#LetItRot #China #Perspective #Inclusion

Last week in issue #39 on "quiet quitting", we argued that the way the trend was playing out in China was instructive "because the conversation there has been in progress for longer; it uses several, evolving terms; and those terms appear more organic, nuanced -- and honest."

While making sure not to equate the two phrases, we suggested that "quiet quitting", and the Chinese term associated with it, "lying flat", were nonetheless both about "young people struggling to thrive in the system as-is, and expressing a desire to break free of dominant, long-held definitions of success."

It turns out the language and the trend continue to evolve in China though. Witness:

Let. It. Rot.


From the above article:

"If you remember the 2021 trend of Chinese millennials "lying flat" in protest of hyper-competition and in defense of rest and relaxation, you've been prepped for its cousin β€” the slightly darker trend of "letting it rot."

"Let it rot," or bailan (摆烂) in Mandarin, is being used by disaffected young Chinese Gen Z-ers and millennials to describe the mindset of leaning into self-indulgence and open decay and away from life expectations that seem neither meaningful nor attainable.

"Let it rot" posts encourage decadence, rest, and the satisfaction of brazenly accepting a hopeless situation."

Apparently, the term was originally a basketball phrase, and is often applied humorously online. But then..."decadence", and "open decay", folks? This is some dark, nihilistic stuff.

And while we will continue to emphasize how different the US and Chinese contexts are, we also can't help but note the similarities in what we're seeing in both countries: young people feeling left out.

In the US, we're actively questioning the rules of the game: quitting new jobs faster than ever before; and talking openly about our salaries. In China? Folks seem to be asking whether they should be playing the very game they were told they had to play in the first place.

Thanks for reading. πŸ™πŸ»


Work moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
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