scorecardForget quiet quitting: Workers say they're acting their wage
  1. Home
  2. policy
  3. economy
  4. news
  5. Forget quiet quitting: Workers say they're acting their wage

Forget quiet quitting: Workers say they're acting their wage

Juliana Kaplan   

Forget quiet quitting: Workers say they're acting their wage
PolicyPolicy3 min read
  • The Internet and world of work has been in an uproar over the concept of "quiet quitting."
  • In essence, it's just workers doing their job as written, for the pay they receive.

When Billy was working warehouse night shifts during the pandemic, he had a lot of free time. His responsibilities were straightforward, and basically just involved making sure everything was running as it should.

He was bored.

That's when the Ireland-based, 30-something decided to pivot from letting his mind be idle during work. Instead he turned to a list of books he wanted to read, but had never found the time — and started listening to audiobooks throughout the night.

"I'm earning a wage, I'm turning up for work. I'm getting my few responsibilities done while at the same time bringing something from it," said Billy, whose last name is kept private, but known to Insider.

He was "acting his wage" — something that's recently caught fire amidst the Great Rethinking of work.

A new term has popped up for simply doing your job and nothing else: Quiet quitting, which was based on Insider's Aki Ito's reporting on coasting culture.

But workers argue that a different term — "acting your wage" — might better encapsulate what they're doing.

"It's not "quiet quitting," progressive political organizing group Our Revolution wrote on Twitter. "It's acting your wage."

"Act your wage" is not the savings-friendly board game from Dave Ramsey. It's a "rebranding" of quiet quitting, and one that centers the people who are doing the actual work. When workers "quiet quit," or act their wage, they're doing their job as written and compensated. While a straightforward concept, the phrase has caught internet fire, with managers fretting and saying quiet quitters will be the first on the chopping block.

"It's basically when your workday is over, you are done with work, and when your workday is going on, you do what you were asked to do and what you are being paid to do," Kate, a corporate IT worker in her early 30s, told Insider. "So it really is just doing your job. It seems that everyone is upset that people are not wanting to do jobs that are not their jobs as much as they used to."

But all of the ruckus over quiet quitting reflected more on managers than workers, spotlighting that many employers had expected overwork for years — and that employees weren't going to stand for it anymore.

"Acting your wage" also comes as pay skyrockets, but doesn't keep pace with sky-high inflation, especially in contrast to how much CEO pay has ballooned. A report from the left-leaning Institute for Policy Studies found that, at 300 low-paying firms, CEOs make 670 times more than their workers. At 106 of those firms workers' median pay did not keep pace with inflation.

With prices on the rise, workers expect more from their jobs. A July survey from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that the lowest average wage survey respondents would accept for a new role, what's called the reservation wage, has reached $72,873 — a slight dip from the series high of $73,283.

But workers aren't actually getting that much for new roles. The average full-time job offer wage was $60,764 over the last four months. So, as employers want more, employees aren't getting what they think they deserve.

Billy said that the backlash to quiet quitting and acting your wage is "hilarious," and that things like social media have allowed workers to see through it and be more critical of the pushback.

"When you're put into a workplace, you're put into a box, it's somebody else's box," Billy said. He added: "But there are ways that we can control our workplaces. There are lots and lots of ways that we can even in small ways, we can find victories."

As for him, he was able to power through Karl Marx's economic tome "Das Kapital" while working. It only took four weeks.

Are you acting your wage? Do you have advice on acting your wage? Contact this reporter at