A Rose By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet

Communication is key to making both employers and employees happy

By Terry Troy

This article’s headline, a popular adage from the Great Bard’s best-known romantic tragedy, emphasizes the notion that the names we assign to things do not impact what they really are, or what they really mean. It’s as true now, as it has ever been.

Throughout the decades I have been covering business and industry, new words have continuously entered our lexicon. And while the terms are new, they are often just a softening of a more-base definition that has become unpalatable to people involved in business from both sides: the employer and the employee.

“Downsizing” became “rightsizing,” which is really just firing, or as they used to say, “laying off or letting someone go,” the latter used as if the employee were kept in a cage and given their freedom from the top of a cliff where they can really spread their wings.

“Outsourcing” led to “insourcing,” which led to “accordion management,” which is the ability to grow or shrink a workforce by firing or releasing full-time or temporary workers.

Such euphemisms serve us well in business, often allowing us to easily convey often complex and unpleasant topics, making them more palatable. However, these sugar coatings often leave a bad taste in the mouth no matter what side of the business equation you are on, worker or management. Such terminology often does nothing more than erode both the business’ confidence in our workers as well as the loyalty of our employees.

Now comes quiet quitting. By all accounts, it is a very real problem, fueled by a younger generation that has been able to reassess its values and focus on a better work/life balance. Like many current trends such as “supply chain problems” and being “short staffed,” it’s a trend that was made popular during COVID. Quiet quitting exposed by the increased ability of the individual to work from home. The answer to addressing the quiet quitting trend, according to HR professionals, life coaches and work force development executives, is better communication. We can start by replacing euphemisms with harsh truth and direct words that can be understood by all.

Quiet quitting is nothing new. There have always been individuals who won’t perform up to their full capacity or capabilities. There are some in management who believe these folks are simply lazy or unmotivated. Others call them “slackers.” But if we point that accusatory finger back at us in the mirror, it’s also a phenomenon that we used to call “low morale.”

It is true that our employees are no longer buying into the myth that they have to be successful to be happy, and that they have to hustle and always be available 100% of the time. Technological advancements like email and the cell phone have made that possible, but not practical. They have only served to create a very real burnout that comes with being available 24/7.

Doing only the bare minimum 100% of the time is not only injurious to our bottom line, it is equally detrimental to a young professional’s self-worth—a bad habit that will eventually have to be unlearned. Better to give 100%, 50% of the time. In the end, it is up to us as business leaders to instill in our employees and peers a sense of pride, a sense of accomplishment that re-awakens a basic need to overcome and succeed.

It’s called motivation. It is at the very heart of capitalism.