After the pandemic began to ease, and labor availability was the lowest in recent history, many employees found themselves working more and more to fill the gaps in the workforce.  That led to the trend popularized a year ago called “quiet quitting.”  Under its tamest definition, quiet quitting was/is a practice where employees only did their own job duties – not the duties of multiple employees. Now, quiet quitting has morphed into a new trend: “bare minimum Mondays.”

Bare minimum Mondays is not just employees limiting their work to the duties of their specific job.  It goes further than that.  It is the idea that within the employee’s specific duties, the employee does the absolute minimum – at least on Mondays.  This trend demonstrates either a misunderstanding of the general direction of our economy, a naivete of how the world works, or a symptom of the employee’s disassociated self – where the employee has failed to connect his/her work of today with his/her employment prospects of tomorrow.

A year ago, when quiet quitting was a thing, employees had leverage (more than they had in a very long time, if not ever).  Every aspect of their work was needed, even if that was limited to their individual duties (and even if it was mediocre).  So, employers treaded lightly, simply to retain the workforce they had.  Now, employers’ financial outlooks are in a much more uncertain place.  Some employers are still in the same position they were a year ago, needing all the labor they can get.  Other employers are at the other end of the spectrum, looking to shed labor.  Still others are teetering between one and the other.

McNees has assisted clients with several reductions in force in the last three months.  We expect that trend to continue, if not accelerate.  When identifying the criteria to use to select employees for layoff, we have noticed a common theme across clients.  The predominant criterion has not been seniority.  It has not been employees with the highest wages.  It has not been a subjective consideration of which employees are liked and which are disliked.  The predominant criterion has been productivity.

Employees who work for employers that are contemplating cost-saving measures might want to read the room.  By following the “bare minimum Monday” trend, an employee just might be self-selecting themselves for a future reduction in force.  Unlike the quiet quitters of last year – who, if terminated, could find new employment almost instantaneously (probably at a higher wage) – those laid off now or in the future will be getting dumped into a very different job market.  This is not to suggest that an employee should be doing the work of multiple employees.  It is only to suggest that an employee doing the bare minimum of his/her own job could ultimately be an act of self-sabotage.