uiet quitting has already proved to be more than just 'another trend' on social media. It is much more than that: it is a cry of protest against the workaholic culture, and a reaction to instability. Companies, which are not exempt from blame for the disengagement of professionals, have an obligation to cover neither their ears nor their eyes. And flexible benefits, in turn, can play a key role in the way employers approach this phenomenon.

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Protesting against falling living standards and salaries that have been stagnant for too long, almost half of under-30s admit that, without pay rises or a career progression in sight, they want to do "the bare minimum" for their role, reveals a recent survey conducted by the London team at recruiter Robert Walters. The study involved 450 responses from several European countries, including Portugal.

"This behaviour is not entirely new. There have always been less motivated individuals in the workplace. However, the real concern here is that, unlike those few workers who tend to be consciously less productive at work, 'quitting in silence' is often a subconscious act generated by frustrations at work," explains Robert Walters CEO Toby Fowlston.

In this case, with young workers being the lowest paid, quiet quitting particularly affects these layers of professionals. "Their lack of work experience - further exacerbated by the pandemic - puts them in a much weaker position than their older, more experienced colleagues when trying to negotiate higher salaries," continues Toby Fowlston.

And that's not all. We are also talking about a phenomenon associated with the same generation that does not give up having a life and searching for happiness and therefore "refuses to be dominated or enslaved by work", adds sociologist Ana Paula Marques, in a statement to Público.

Ana, who is also a professor at University of Minho, argues as well that this "relativisation" of work on the part of the younger generation cannot be dissociated from the fact that they have grown up hearing that, unlike their parents, they could not count on a job for life or even on a contribution career capable of guaranteeing them retirement pension.

"While the generation that is now around thirty grew up with this anxiety, the twenty-something generation has learnt to deal better with the uncertainty of the job market, having started to relativise it, in favour of values that are more important to them, such as happiness, well-being, identification with causes", argues Ana Paula Marques.

The solution? Flexible benefits

Countering this phenomenon - which essentially describes a path of disconnection, disengagement and estrangement, right up to 'resignation day' - goes far beyond salary, however. Especially because, recalls the recruiter's CEO, employers may not be able to raise salaries at the same rate as inflation.

"This is where perks and benefits really have a chance to make a difference," he warns. And he lists some possibilities: utility vouchers, vouchers for travel and subscriptions to streaming services and platforms.

But there is a whole world of possibilities to explore, ranging from childcare vouchers, gym vouchers, free psychology or physiotherapy sessions, Retirement and Savings Plans, remote work, additional rest days, and budgets allocated for training to the mythical four-day work week, among others.

The main lesson to be drawn is this: compensation should be as flexible as possible, enough to be able to encompass (and resolve) the anxieties, wishes and needs of each of a company's workers, so that 'the day of resignation' does not happen, or at least not for reasons that the employer could have resolved beforehand.