The office secrets are out. And we have TikTok — aka the new virtual water cooler — to thank. Unless the algorithm skipped your FYP, you’ve probably seen videos of people sharing how they’ve returned to an old job. How they’re tired of going above and beyond at work. Or, how they’re using the power of negotiation to level up.
These work trends have names: boomerang employees, quiet quitting, and the “Great Renegotiation.” And they might have you thinking about taking similar steps. Here’s what you need to know.
Familiar name, who dis? It’s a boomerang employee.
No, they're not co-workers who know how to film a flawless Boomerang on Insta. They're people who end up returning to the same company they left. In 2021, roughly 48 million people said ‘goodbye’ to their job (hi, Great Resignation). The reasons varied from better pay, benefits, and work-life balance (more on this below), to gaining new skills, raising a family or retiring.
Now, survey after survey has found that many would consider boomeranging to their old stomping grounds. Quick stat: Nearly 45% of respondents in one survey said they were better off in the job they quit during the pandemic. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering it or wondering why you’re seeing familiar names back in your Slack messages:
Why are people boomeranging?: Sometimes, it’s straight up regret. Other times, a new opportunity doesn’t end up being the right fit because of things like company culture. Maybe there’s new management. Or, perhaps there’s a vacancy or new role at their old company and they want to give it a shot.
Are people welcomed back with open arms?: It depends. If you were a rockstar employee that brought a lot to the table, a company may give you a ‘welcome back.’ In one study, 38% of managers found rehiring someone who’s already familiar with the company culture and requires less training was a major plus. But experts say employers may also think twice because of the mixed message it may give to staff about loyalty.
Should you be boomeranging?: Career experts recommend thinking long and hard about the “why.” Why did you leave? And why do you want to go back? And why should the company hire you again over a new candidate?
Why is nobody at the office happy hour? Well…they might be quiet quitting.
No more staying late after work hours, organizing virtual lunches, or doing anything beyond the job description. This workflow is called quiet quitting. Important note: Don’t confuse this with people doing the bare minimum at work or leaving a company. Quiet quitters are still doing their job, but setting boundaries.
One TikToker said it’s all about not “subscribing to the hustle-culture mentality that work has to be your life.” But another user questioned the phrasing of quiet quitting, asking “Isn't that just called 'working'? Like, doing your job properly with a healthy boundary?” *Gasp.*
Either way, many are embracing this trend. If you’re wondering if your co-worker across the Zoom call is doing this — or you want to join in — here’s what you need to know:
Why are people quiet quitting?: For one, burnout. The pandemic has blurred the lines between work and home life. And people want to set a stronger boundary to be able to enjoy time with family and hobbies. Other reasons: Maybe they're unsatisfied with growth opportunities or pay. Or, aren’t being acknowledged for taking on extra work and are fed up.
What do employers think about this?: Imagine a job post that says ‘quiet quitting embraced here.’ It doesn’t read so well. Quiet quitting points to issues of burnout and companies should consider fixing the problem, according to experts. Think: prioritizing tasks and setting guidelines like no work emails on weekends or after hours (hi, France and Belgium).
Should I be a quiet quitter?: Quiet quitting may not address the root of the burnout problem. If there’s anything you’re unsatisfied with at work, talking to your manager might be a better approach, according to one TikToker. Another user brought up how people of color need to “tread lightly” if they’re going to participate. Adding, “unfortunately, in corporate America, minorities are held to a different standard.”
When you don’t want to boomerang or quiet quit, there’s the Great Renegotiation.
Maybe you don’t want to leave your job, or maybe you just want better benefits. What’s the solution for that? The power of renegotiation. Researchers at McKinsey & Company have found that prospective candidates aren’t settling for just any offer. Especially, when the job market can be their oyster.
Karin Kimbrough, the chief economist of LinkedIn, told NPR earlier this year, "There are twice as many jobs on our platform as there were a year ago." And with more openings, employees have the upper hand to try and get some of their wish-list items at a new or current job (think: a higher salary, more vacation time, paid family leave, the ability to WFH full-time).
Work trends come and go. But it’s important to reflect on what you want out of your career. Whether it’s climbing the corporate ladder. Or, simply working to afford your lifestyle and have fun. Regardless of the objective, careers make up a large portion of our lives. So why not make the most of it?
Sign up for the Daily Skimm email newsletter. Delivered to your inbox every morning and prepares you for your day in minutes.