The Red Flag of “Loud and Proud”

It’s cool. It’s hip. It’s happening. Even @Jack did it. So what could go wrong?

For Gabby Ianniello, it was the blisters from putting on stilettos every morning for her real estate job, which had called employees back to the office last fall. For Giovanna Gonzalez, it was those three little letters, R.T.O., coming from her investment management boss. For Tiffany Knighten, it was finding out that a teammate’s annual salary was over $10,000 higher than hers for a role at her level.

They were fed up. They were ready to resign. And they wanted their TikTok followers to know.

The “Great Resignation” is upon us, where young employees are deciding they no longer want to suffer the degradations of work, whatever those three little letters, R.T.O., stand for. Whelp, that’s their choice, even if it’s unlikely that Gabby, with her real estate job, is required to wear stilettos that give her blisters. Did she consider wearing other shoes? But I digress.

“People have told me, ‘Sis, I quit my job. Let’s go get drinks,’” Ms. Knighten, a 28-year-old Black woman, said. She said she faced persistent microaggressions in her previous workplace and left to run her own communications agency called Brand Curators. “Everyone is loud and proud to say they let go of what wasn’t serving them.”

If this new endeavor, Brand Curators, works out, cool. But if it doesn’t, and Tiffany Knighten needs to find a new job, will anybody want her? That she was being paid less than another person on her team could be the result of unfair, possibly unlawful, reasons or entirely sound reasons. She worked in financial management, and it could be as simple as the other person did the job a lot better than she did.

But she’s entitled to quit. And she’s entitled to say why she quit. This is America and people have a right to speak their mind, even if it’s to accuse a former employer of “persistent microaggressions.” But having done so, would you invite her into your shop?

“People are frustrated, exhausted, triggered,” J.T. O’Donnell, founder of the career coaching platform Work It Daily, said. “When people are triggered, you see fight or flight responses. This is a fight response.”

The “fight or flight” reflex is a response to fear or stress. Is that the same as triggering? Yet, if enough people do it, put on a “public display of resignation,” what are employers to do?

If quitters think they can punch back at their old bosses without fear of alienating potential future employers, they might be right. The supply-demand curve of the labor market is working in their favor, and employers are growing less choosy.

At the moment, the labor market is tight as they come. Suddenly, employers aren’t in the drivers’ seat, as they need warm bodies and are left with little choice as to who they can get.

Some hiring managers have come to feel that making what they previously considered a dicey hire — say, someone who blasted a former chief executive online — might be safer than letting a staffing shortage persist for too long, resulting in burnout.

But the issue isn’t just quitters, leaving holes in the staff, often without notice as employees just “ghost” their employers by failing to show up or answer the phone.

Ms. Ianniello, 28, has a lengthy list of quibbles with her old corporate lifestyle. When she worked as a marketing coordinator in Manhattan, she used to wake up at 4:45 a.m. to an iPhone alarm that she labeled “you got this babe,” then blow out her hair before starting a 45-minute commute. Her days were composed of sad desk lunches and “per my last email”s.

If you notice that there really isn’t anything about Ianniello’s “quibbles” that actually has much of anything to do with her employer, you’re not alone. But it hasn’t prevented her from becoming a TikTok star!

She quit in February, with about $10,000 in savings, and posted a TikTok over the summer telling her followers that she’d found a new sense of bliss. “Right now, quitting is the hot thing to do,” Ms. Ianniello, who started a podcast called Corporate Quitter, said. “It’s almost like the dot-com bubble, when you made your AIM name and you were an early adopter. You get to be part of the Great Resignation.”

Is this the new breed of “thought leader” on social media, inspiring her peers to find “bliss” by being a loud and proud quitter? There is a fairly good chance that at some point in the future, perhaps the near future, the winds will shift, the savings will run out and the money from fans on TikTok will disappear, and then the Great Resigners will need to find a job.

“This kind of thing pendulums back and forth,” Ms. O’Donnell said, adding that she was alarmed by some of the breaches in etiquette she had seen from people leaving their jobs in the current market, where the standard of giving two weeks’ notice has shifted: “You have some people who ghost. They just don’t ever go back in. They won’t take any phone calls.”

It’s sadly understandable that the hip and insipid will follow whatever trend prevails on social media at the moment, not the least of which is that most jobs involve the unpleasantness of having to occasionally show up and, dare I say it, work. And I would be seriously remiss not to point out that many employers treat their staff like dirt. Courtesy, like loyalty, is a two-way street.

But then, when the pendulum swings, and it will when the fridge is empty, it will be job hunters seeking employment. It won’t just be the gaps in their resume that raise eyebrows, but the public excoriation of former employers for making them choose on their own to wear stilettos or the constant microaggression of “would you mind doing your job?”

31 thoughts on “The Red Flag of “Loud and Proud”

  1. Dan

    “when the fridge is empty”

    That’s when we’ll be told that the only right and compassionate thing to do is to take money from those who worked for it, and give it to those who refused to, so that the latter can eat.

      1. Dan

        Eating is a right, sure. Having food to eat, not so much. And when the reason you have no food to eat is that you refuse to work in order to earn the money to buy that food, that sounds like the system is working as it ought to. Hunger is a bit of a motivator.

  2. Guitardave

    She’ll be OK…as long as she keeps her future shoplifting sprees to less than $500 per trip.

    And, in the ‘you don’t know how good you got it’ dept….some days I think I’d prefer to walk around in stilettos for 8 hours and blab on the phone than to have to constantly deal with people like her driving to work.

  3. Elpey P.

    “…left to run her own communications agency called Brand Curators. ‘Everyone is loud and proud to say they let go of what wasn’t serving them.'”

    Brand Curators: Here To Serve Ourselves

    1. SHG Post author

      Not a clue what that business does, but I wonder how she will take it should the phone not ring? Not well, I expect.

    2. Dan J

      After spending 30 seconds trying to find this business, and failing, I am guessing they are not very good at their jobs. But I am sure she doesn’t deal with any microaggressions now.

  4. B. McLeod

    The notion that the job is supposed to “serve” the employee flips an established concept. Holding out for such a job is likely to resemble retirement. One can always do it. Access to necessities may depend on the soundness of one’s financial planning at that point.

    1. SHG Post author

      I’m not sure the “established concept” hadn’t gone too far in the employers’ favor of the past decade or so, but employers are still the ones who sign the paychecks.

  5. Paleo

    The first week of work in the early 80s my new boss, an engineer in his mid 40s, gave me advice that served me well for my entire career. He told me that to avoid having to deal with microaggressions that I needed to be sure that I was dishing them out.

    If only that young woman had been lucky enough to have a mentor as wise as mine.

  6. Rengit

    I’d be more concerned about the “breaches of etiquette” if employers hadn’t abandoned these rules themselves over the past 20 years. I’ve had two different office desk jobs that I put in two weeks’ notice for, leaving for some other gig, only to be told the next day by HR that, while they appreciate my courtesy, that day (the day after I gave my notice) would be my last day, due to nebulous “client security concerns.” I guess they would be worried, from a risk management perspective, about the worst case scenarios of someone running off with a bunch of Social Security numbers in the last two weeks, or someone deciding that they were finally going to confront that coworker they hate and cause a ton of drama that lowers team morale for a time even after they depart.

    But most of us just wanted to show “basic courtesy”, which is what I’d been taught by my parents, teachers, and college career counselors, and were rewarded with this courtesy by being kicked out the door and told, sorry, but it’s necessary because of corporate compliance and security. With the job market the way it is now, what goes around comes around.

    1. phv3773

      The immediate departure and escort to the door is the universal practice in some industries, e.g. banking, and may be required by regulation. So be aware, and if you want to steal some intellectual property, do so before anyone gets a hint of your impending departure.

      1. SHG Post author

        The issue is whether you get paid for the last two weeks, not whether they allow you to continue to work after quitting.

  7. John Sampson

    The only thing I understand and agree with is “ghosting.” Employers always “ghost” their employees. They don’t let you prepare with a kid in school or a planned surgery. Today is your last day and get out. Maybe you’re too expensive, incompetent or they’re going bankrupt – there is usually no warning for the employee.

    The resume is a confusing audit trail from past employers who may or may not have been horrible. Meanwhile, there is no resume for the employer. Why is the turnover so high for this position? Did they leave because you lied about working weekends or couldn’t make payroll? Explain the resume gap to the next employer and who will they believe. Maybe it’s because of children, disability or a career change, which all looks bad.

      1. John Sampson

        Today, we all work for someone outside of living in the woods. You got several clients, which is better than a big single client/employer. Still, your big single client/employer is the New York and US government and their bureaucratic rules/legalese. Elsewhere, you’re unemployable.

    1. Miles

      Like Scott, I agree that employers haven’t done a great job of holding up their end of the deal. But you sound like the employee from hell, that narcissist who believes jobs exist so they can get a paycheck and, if they feel like it, will show up on occasion and maybe do a little work.

      Maybe your employers sucked, but if you worked for me, I would kick your ass out the door in a flash with that attitude.

      1. John Sampson

        “Maybe your employers sucked, but if you worked for me, I would kick your ass out the door in a flash with that attitude.”

        Some employers thrive on controlling employees. They love to threaten their livelihoods for writing the obvious and surround themselves with yes-man who laugh at all their jokes. Not even their spouses accept such treatment and that’s why they love to get back to work.

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