The trend had been “quiet quitting” where an employee stops putting out any effort at all at work, but just draws a paycheck. Now, they are quitting, but doing it loud, publicly, and on social media. In this special Tough Things First video podcast with Ray Zinn, Ray discusses the phenomenon and how it effects the workplace and the employee’s future. (Click Here for the Video Podcast)
Rob Artigo: Welcome to the Tough Things First podcast, your indispensable source for business, leadership, and life advice with the longest-serving CEO in Silicon Valley. I’m your guest host Rob Artigo, and he’s Ray Zinn. Hello again, Ray.
Ray Zinn: Hello there, Rob. Good morning to you.
Rob Artigo: This, Ray, is a special edition of the Tough Things First podcast because it’s on video. We’ve done this occasionally. We try to do it as often as possible. So if the listeners are out there listening to the audio-only podcast, they can go to the website, Tough Things First podcast, or toughthingsfirst.com is a better way to say it, and then find this podcast, click on the link for the video version, and boom, you’re able to watch us live and in person recorded. Thank you.
Ray, early in 2023, we had a long conversation here on this podcast about something called quiet quitting, and that was rough enough as it is. That’s the phenomenon where workers just sort of turn off interest in their jobs. They say, “I don’t like my job. I’m going to keep on going, but I’m not really going to put out any effort.” People are paid by the value of the work they do, and if they’re not doing much work, they’re being overpaid for the work they’re doing. And sometimes they decide to just sit on their hands and just draw a paycheck for as long as they can. Now-
Ray Zinn: Also Rob is that the government was also paying them, giving them a kind of like a stipend for not working, and so it also encouraged them not to work, as you would, because they were getting this 2,000 or 3,000 a month stipend.
Rob Artigo: Right, and that was a counter incentive to do really anything. And then they got used to it.
Ray Zinn: Exactly.
Rob Artigo: So they began quiet quitting. Well, now there’s something that’s kind of the opposite of that. That’s what they call a sort of, well, everybody’s calling it now loud quitting. And that’s that scorched earth method of quitting where you don’t turn in a resume, well, you don’t turn in a letter of resignation.
Ray Zinn: Resignation, right.
Rob Artigo: Yeah. You just quit.
Ray Zinn: Just quit.
Rob Artigo: Then when you quit, you go on TikTok or some other social media and then tell the world how horrible that company is, how horrible the bosses are, why you quit, and virtually have a tantrum on video. Is this one of the most alarming things that you could see employees do to employers and also to their own careers?
Ray Zinn: Yes. I mean, social media can be abused. It’s got a lot of power, a lot of good things, but it can be abused. And it’s not just your job, it’s also your friends, you can do loud quitting on your friends. You could do loud quitting on stores if you didn’t like the way you were treated, or like a restaurant, or just this loud, I don’t want to call it quitting, but this loud exclamation of one’s feelings on any subject. Could be parents, I’ve heard them also do it to their parents, or even to their church. So it’s just a way of exaggerating or exploiting the social media for their own selfish ends.
Rob Artigo: Yeah. Let’s think about in terms of employment and employers. Can this kind of thing, if I was to go on and do a Facebook video or a YouTube video blasting an employer and walking off the job and just saying how horrible it is, doesn’t that potentially open me up as an employee to allegations that could have me wind up in court?
Ray Zinn: I think so. I’m not sure I’ve heard of any, but I’m sure there is. I know there is in some personal relationships, whether it be a divorce or a child custody issue. I’ve heard them do doing that. I’m not sure I’ve heard them doing about employers, but I’m sure it can be done and it probably is being done.
Rob Artigo: Yeah, and I suspect that if it isn’t done already, it will eventually when it gets bad enough or if it gets bad enough in a particular case. I mean, I think employers don’t particularly want to become litigious and have to pay for lawyers and then face countersuits and all those sorts of things. But what about the future of employment prospects for a person who perhaps goes viral doing this, doesn’t that harm their potential-
Ray Zinn: Absolutely.
Rob Artigo: … earning prospects?
Ray Zinn: Yeah, you wouldn’t touch them with a 10-foot pole. In my company, Micrel, when you left the company, you were interviewed by HR, human resources, and you could express whatever you wanted to. You could express your feelings about the company, about your job, about your supervisor. That was all documented. That’s all part of the record of an employee leaving. Most companies, I think, have that sort of exit interview, and so that’s the time and a way to express your feelings about your job, your supervisor, the company or whatever, rather than going on social media and just blasting them on social media, because that’s a permanent record. I mean, these companies now are pretty savvy about doing searches as part of their due diligence in the interview process, and they look for stuff like that. And if you’ve gone on social media and you’ve blasted your employer or the company in some way, that’s going to come back to bite you.
Rob Artigo: Well, the obsession with fame and notoriety isn’t anything particularly new, particularly for Americans and American young people. And it’s kind of been around my whole life, the idea that, “Oh, all I have to do is, any media or anything, any exposure I can get is good exposure. There’s no such thing as bad exposure.” I think we’re proving that to be false now with all of this. And this phenomenon, you were talking about outside of employment, the idea that people are voicing their opinions, not just opinions, but very strong negative opinions about restaurants, airports, airlines, people who are doing customer service in other areas, and they go on and they have basically a public tantrum. Sometimes it’s a recording of the live in-person moment when the person’s explaining or having some kind of huge blowout argument with TSA or something like that, and you see this and it’s pretty remarkable. I don’t know how much worse it can get, but it’s pretty bad.
Ray Zinn: Well, I said when we started the podcast that the internet can be used as a powerful tool. It also can be used as a negative tool. And I think with this free speech debacle going on, I think people feel free to say whatever they want however they want. But remember, what you say, it becomes a public record and it will stay with you for as long as you live. I’ve heard people had made comments way before social media, but made some comments to the press and when somebody goes back 20 or 30 years, they’ll find that, and it comes back to hurt them, especially in the political area. So, anything you do that becomes now a public record will come back to harm you in some way.
Rob Artigo: And I think about the fact that there are lots of examples of somebody, you find out somebody took down a tweet or they removed a video from the internet, but there’s always somebody who caught it before it was taken down.
Ray Zinn: Exactly.
Rob Artigo: And now it’s out of your realm of control, because you put it out there. Right now, as part of our production for the video that we’re doing here, I have a screen grab of our shot together. So when we have our shot that are side by side, it’s a screen grab and I can screen grab anything that I play on the computer this way, and it becomes a nice high-definition video that looks like it’s original from me.
Ray Zinn: Well, just to change the subject a little bit, I have a high admiration for these whistleblowers that come out and expose wrongdoings by certain political leaders, but that becomes a public record now. In other words, these whistleblowers, they have to know that this is going to be with them now forever, as long as they live. But I have a high admiration for them. Now, that’s not necessarily social media issues, that’s just going public and making a public record of your comments.
I remember when, I think about seven years ago, is that right? Let me think here. Eight years ago, somebody had asked me my opinion about the acquisition of Micrel by Microchip, and I made some negative comments about that, about the way that went down, and Microchip sued me, and it was very expensive. I mean very, very expensive. I mean, I won the lawsuit in the end, but it was still very, very expensive for me because I exposed myself on a public record, and that came back to hurt me. So believe me, it’s best to say no comment than to comment, unless you have something good to say. Good to say is fine. If you have something bad to say, be careful, because it could come back to hurt you both financially as well as personally.
Rob Artigo: Yeah, and I love that example that you gave there. Sometimes you’ve got to say something publicly for the good, but you also have to know it’s got to be true. I mean, if you’re a whistleblower, it’s going to be public record or it’s going to be part of the official record, whatever, if it’s behind closed doors or whatnot, it’s going to be part of the official record and somebody’s going to be able to check to see if that’s factual or not. And if you were not telling the truth, it blows your argument that you’re a whistleblower out of the water and makes you sound like you’re sour grapes or something like that. The whistleblower, yeah.
Ray Zinn: It goes beyond that. See, not everybody’s going to agree with what, even though it’s true, they are proven true, what the whistleblowers may or may not say, it doesn’t matter because there are people who don’t agree with the opinion or the remarks by the whistleblower. And so if they needed a job or some employment associated with a person who didn’t necessarily go along with their view on a particular subject, that’s going to hurt them too. I don’t blame the whistleblowers for, I mean, I’m proud of them for coming forward and exposing, but also, I’ll tell you what, unless you don’t need a job, sometimes being a whistleblower can hurt you.
Rob Artigo: Yeah, right. I mean there’s a lot to be risked there. We’ve seen it in recent examples. The last thing I’ll mention, just this, is talk about disgruntled employees. And since you ran Micrel for 37 years and had to deal with all kinds of personalities and then conflicts and whatnot, thankfully Micrel, there weren’t a huge number of these kinds of big deals, but remember there was a term regularly used called going postal? And that was a reference to workplace violence, and I couldn’t help but think about a person having a tantrum on social media and screaming at their former employer to being a warning sign that you ought to heightened security and be concerned about this person. Does your mind go there, or is it just sort of like a standard practice? Well, you lose an employee, you should be aware of the fact that they could get angry, or does this add an extra red flag for you?
Ray Zinn: No, it’s a red flag. I mean, HR let me know that one employee expressed some very hostile feelings toward the company, and that concerned me being the CEO of the company. And so I was on my guard, I was concerned. I didn’t even know the employee actually, but they said some things which concerned me, and I was sure I definitely had to be on my guard.
Rob Artigo: So, I think the bottom line here is that if you’re an employee, be a professional and choose a different path. And if you’re an employer, just be aware of the fact that this might come up and have a game plan for dealing with it.
Ray Zinn: Well, my advice is that let’s say you had a legitimate grief or concern with your employer, unless you really, really have something that you think is litigable, I guess they’d say, where you are going to go sue the company, don’t do it. I mean, saying something harmful about a company or about your boss never serves you any good. No good comes of it. There’s a scripture in the Bible that says, “That which does not uplift is of darkness.” So, as my mom used to say, “If you haven’t got something good to say, don’t say it.” So my advice is, no matter how bad you feel towards your supervisor or the employer, it’s best to keep your mouth shut.
Rob Artigo: I know, and-
Ray Zinn: It doesn’t serve you any good, unless you’re going to sue them. And if you’re going to litigate it, then fine, but otherwise just keep your mouth shut.
Rob Artigo: Yeah, and I know you also take it a step further, that you don’t even want to, if somebody’s applying for a job and they’re in for an interview, it’s just best that they don’t say anything negative about their employer anyway.
Ray Zinn: Exactly. In fact, if an employee says something negative about their previous employer during the interview, that’s a red flag. I mean, that’s one of the worst things that you can do, is speak negative about your prior employer.
Rob Artigo: Well, you’ve been listening to a Tough Things First podcast special edition here on video. And if you haven’t watched the video and you’d like to, you can go to toughthingsfirst.com, find this podcast and then click on the video link. This topic here has been about loud quitting. As always, you can reach out to Ray Zinn with your questions toughthingsfirst.com, continue your education and the conversation with all the podcasts, blogs, and links to information about Ray’s books, Tough Things First, and the Zen of Zinn series one, two, and three. Thanks again, Ray.
Ray Zinn: Thank you, Rob.