• Sean Lewis

Did we really need another?


Quiet Quitting. When I began seeing this new and ultra-sticky social media topic, words from the late, great George Carlin—the ultimate authority on Euphemism—came to mind.


Although we did manage to reduce the number of syllables from “Employee Disengagement,” I guess I was rather disappointed we didn’t get a hyphen with the new term. However, this quip doesn’t really give justice to Carlin’s main point, that euphemisms are created to hide or soften the truth.


The truth is NOT that, due to the pandemic, employees are just now rediscovering their desire to achieve better work-life balance (coincidentally, this one does have the hyphen), they’re just simply…FED UP.


They’re tired of being abused. They’re tired of their great, big hearts being appropriated for personal profit. And it began LONG BEFORE Covid. What Business (with a capital B) is now complaining of is little more than a result of the culmination of years and years of its own Employee Abuse…


…There it is. The simple, direct language.


While this has been a top national worker issue for decades (and where the guilty have finally ruined it for the innocent, en masse), the two professions that currently exemplify this more than any other are teaching and healthcare.


When 70% of Texas teachers and 55% nationally have expressed their intention to leave the profession, there is little left with which to defend the demands we’ve made upon our nation’s teachers—like paying out of pocket to supplement the provision of basic learning tools such as classroom supplies, books, or furniture… yes, furniture. On their website, the organization Adopt-A-Classroom displays that teachers spent an average of $750 on school supplies out of pocket during the 2020-2021 school year, that 30% of teachers spent $1,000 or more on school supplies, and that teacher spending has increased 25% since they first began surveying teachers in 2015.


Add to these the overwork resulting from disproportionate classroom sizes exacerbated by lack of staff supports, or the disrespect from school administration, as well as its tolerance of the same from parents. If we think that worker attraction and skills gaps are challenges now, how much worse will it become when our national ability to provide a quality public education falls even further.


Possibly even more alarming, and on the other side of the customer age-spectrum, a 2021 Morning Poll report: “Voices from the Frontlines Part II,” stated that while most of the 1 in 5 health care workers who had quit their jobs since the start of Covid, did so because of the Pandemic, the major contributors were their desire for better compensation or benefits, that a better opportunity had come their way, and that they were burned out/overworked: “When the first wave hit in 2020 my coworkers and I didn’t feel supported at all by my employer…while 2021 has been better, me and others feel like we have been used and abuse [sic] during Covid with no attempt at gratitude.”

A 2021 healthcare workforce analysis from Mercer estimates that by 2025, the US will likely face a shortage of 446,300 Home health aides, 95,000 Nursing assistants, 98,700 Medical and lab technologists and technicians, and 29,400 Nurse practitioners. Moreover, the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) predicts a shortage of as many as 122,000 physicians by 2032.


As 10,000 Americans per day continue to cross the 65-year-old mark and will do so for the foreseeable future, the responsibilities of senior care will increasingly fall on the younger generations. Since lack of access to childcare is frequently cited as a leading barrier to current workforce participation, how can a workforce recovery begun today be remotely sustainable if in the very near future society will be adding the (even more difficult?) challenges of senior care to the "incoming replacements?”


I don’t believe it will require a great deal of mental gymnastics to link lack of economic improvements to the gutting of whole institutions, or for those broken institutions becoming the top contributors to the failures of adjacent /cross-dependent workforces, and ultimately to their institutions.


Teaching and healthcare are two professions where we have placed ultimate trust in the competence of its workforce—for the care of our children, or the care of our lives. Perhaps we should also trust in their competence to bring to light the most egregious of wrongs being wrought on the American workforce? During the pandemic we were consistently shown how the deficits in education and healthcare have had disastrous effects on our business’ workforces, our cultural moral, and our nation’s economic state. These industries have become the canaries in the coalmine.


But creative or more viral euphemisms are not going to fix these problems. In a completely unrelated post the other day Rosanna Berardi closed with the phrase:


“What day you? I call BS.”


I’m sorry Rosanna, but I had to hijack it for this writing, as I wish I had come up with it myself, and because…there it was…simple, direct language.


Only when Business (with a capital B) calls BS on employee abuse (not to mention the Spin) will we begin to properly credit the root cause and finally address what is truly required to get our workforces back together and begin the proper task of repairing our economy and our nation. Anticipating the world that we’re leaving to my children (and yours), compounded by the constant feeding of excuses makes me nauseous.

But Carlin said it better…“I'm telling you, some of this language makes me want to vomit. Well, maybe not vomit. Makes me want to engage in an involuntary personal protein spill.”


Can we all agree that we’re now well past the point for us all to call Bull$hit?