- “Quiet prosperity” is a workplace strategy that can help people take more control over their work.
- Psychotherapist Lesley Alderman says it’s a way to build resilience in a tough economy.
- She and another expert agree that quiet cessation, by contrast, can disable some employees.
Quietly quitting may still be popular, as a recent Gallup survey found, but another career strategy, “thriving quietly,” is helping employees find joy in their jobs in a difficult economy.
The strategy is about “giving yourself more control over what you do,” rather than thinking about what the company can do for you, says Lesley Alderman, a psychotherapist and journalist who coined the term in December 2022 Washington post article, told Insider.
“People feel best when they have a sense of agency,” Alderman said. “When people feel they don’t have a lot of control, especially at work, they tend to have lower job satisfaction.”
It reflects the state of the modern workplace when layoffs are rife and finding new jobs frustrating.
While the COVID-19 pandemic initially mobilized workers to leave unfulfilling jobs at record rates, a trend dubbed the “Great Quit,” fears of a looming recession in 2022 forced many to pull back and stay put.
As a result, some quit quietly instead, doing minimal work. However, according to experts including Oldman, this is not a strategy you should be focusing on. She argues that “quietly quitting smoking is disempowering” and that workers need a resilient mindset to ride out tough economic times.
“Quiet prosperity” involves incorporating small changes into your work life that “make you feel like the job is yours, not someone else’s telling you to do it.”
make intentional and subtle shifts
Alderman says the concept of “quiet prosperity” grew out of her experiences with clients who were burned out and resentful at work.
“They think there’s only one way to get their job done and that’s to do it 110 percent or do exactly as ordered, and they don’t really think about it with a wide-angle lens,” she said.
Instead, making “intentional” and “subtle” shifts in your work patterns will leave you feeling more fulfilled, says Alderman.
This shift may involve crafting your work to match your interests and strengths, and focusing on what’s really important to you. This can be anything from having lunch with like-minded colleagues to forming a club. Every organization is different, but Alderman says talking to a manager is one way to start.
Ashton Wikstrom, a publicist at Elle Communications for six years, used the tactic when she became pregnant with her first child in 2018.
She told Insider that motherhood caused “a sea change in my priorities and needs,” and after throwing herself into work in her twenties, she told her manager she’d rather work part-time. She hasn’t looked back since.
Wikstrom said she shifted her hours to accommodate her needs as a mother, but made sure to be transparent with colleagues about when she was online.
It also meant changing the work she did. Previously, she worked directly with clients, but in her part-time job, she preferred media storytelling, which involved pitching to reporters on behalf of clients.
For her, being successful at work means enjoying what she does, rather than striving for a higher position, she said.
“I don’t really want to be a boss. I don’t want to be an account executive. I want to do what I’m good at, which is sales, and that role works for me. I’m not going to keep climbing the ladder if it doesn’t work for me,” Wikstrom explain. Sticking to her work style has helped her build resilience and weather tough situations, including the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minority workers don’t have ‘luxury’ of quiet resignation
Career coach Brooks E. Scott, who has worked with clients ranging from interns to executives at companies like Meta, Cisco, Instagram, and Netflix, tells Insider that the “quiet prosperity” is minority An empowerment initiative for employees.
Quietly quitting smoking is a “different experience for people from underrepresented groups and non-majority groups who may not have the luxury of sitting still,” he said.
According to Scott, people belonging to these groups do not have the opportunity to work and are only able to do minimal work. “A lot of people in underrepresented groups are already working twice as hard and twice as long as people in the majority group, so the second we have a bit of a break, we’re going to miss out on some potentially good opportunities,” he said .
Given the many economic challenges workers face, we’re likely to hear more talk of “quiet prosperity” in the future. That’s because — as Alderman puts it — events that upend the economy, such as a pandemic, cause people to feel disillusioned with their jobs. For those people, she added, “quiet prosperity” is a way to ask, “How can I truly own my job and not be owned by it?”
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