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Syracuse University professor highlights risks of “quiet quitting” trend

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Quiet quitting is a trend that many employees are hoping will make their work lives more bearable, but a local professor said there are risks to that way of thinking.

Syracuse University Psychology Professor Kevin Antshel said even before the pandemic, organizational psychologists were seeing an increase in employee burnout due to low wages and work-related stressors. The COVID-19 era made that worse, leading to “The Great Resignation.”

"A year later, the economy is less robust, and quitting is not viewed by as many as a favorable option,” said Antshel. “People have to have a salary in order to keep up with inflation and rising prices."

That’s where quiet quitting comes in. The term is being used to mean everything from doing the bare minimum at work to finding a better work-life balance.

Antshel said from a psychological perspective, those who are phoning it in because they feel disengaged at work could actually make their situation worse.

"The research in mental health has consistently shown that the more effort and energy we put into anything, the more we value that activity," he said.

But Antshel said workers who are using quiet quitting as a way to find more balance in their lives and avoid working too much could see a positive effect.

"Effectively, coming up with work boundaries is associated with improved mental health and lower job burnout, so for those who interpret quiet quitting in this fashion, I'm much less concerned about that group of people," he said.

Quiet quitting also has an effect on employers in a time when many are struggling to find workers and fill shifts. But there are things employers can do to help.

“Trying to cultivate a psychologically healthy environment, a safe environment, I think would be kind of the antidote if quiet quitting is the poison,” said Antshel.

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.