Smith Brain Trust / May 18, 2023

Gen Zers are Live-Quitting Their Jobs, But Should They?

Gen Zers are Live-Quitting Their Jobs, But Should They?

“It can be problematic and it can be beneficial.” That from Jui Ramaprasad, associate professor at the Smith School.

Her research looks at interactions on online platforms and their impact from several perspectives. Ramaprasad says when it comes to workers born no earlier than 1997 using #Quittok to live stream their resignations, this generation “is very driven by being real and bringing your whole self.” But she adds if she spotted one of her students live quitting, “I’d say maybe you should edit that a little bit. I struggle with whether it’s good or bad.”

More and more young people are quitting live and in living color on TikTok and their videos are getting millions of views. The BBC points out that most young users on the social media platform have grown up as digital natives, sharing every kind of milestone online. “A positive piece of this is Gen Zers are much more aware of their mental health and transparency in how they live their lives.” And Ramaprasad adds, “there are benefits to being authentic and transparent about mental health struggles at the workplace,” and letting people know, “they’re not alone” as they deal with the same issues.

But as these people seek new employment, she says these videos are “tied to what type of worker you are.” There’s risk associated with it. These confessional videos may surface on the internet for years to come, possibly turning off future employers who may worry about being exposed similarly. Ramaprasad says sometimes when venting about what you think is wrong with an employer and why you quit, “the branding can be off and it can come off as ‘do you just not have the work ethic?’”

Many workers are at a job they don’t like, where they feel mistreated and unappreciated, and they can’t just live quit and leave. They have to stay, at least for now, in order to support themselves and their families. So, some responses to these live-streamed departures are less than complimentary. “There’s privilege tied to this too. There’s privilege to being able to say ‘I wasn’t happy in my job, I’m just quitting.’” TikTok videos can go as long as 10 minutes, but most are much shorter. Ramaprasad says the viewer may not get the full story, which might include, “I have money saved,” so I can pay my bills while I look for another job, or “I’m living in my parents’ basement,” so rent or a mortgage aren’t a concern right now.

The bottom line is, we don’t know the full impact that live-streamed resignations are having because they are a new phenomenon. But erring on the side of caution might be the rule of thumb at the moment.

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