Employees Are Learning to 'Act Their Wage' — Here's Why You May Want to Consider It Too

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine2.3k
April 14, 2024 at 5:54PM UTC

Quiet quitting has taken the internet by storm. And given that the world is pretty much attached to the internet, everybody has heard about it by now, and many workers are embracing it. The idea that employees aren’t going above and beyond at work and are only doing what is asked of them has garnered many supporters and detractors. Proponents of the trend say that workers need to establish clear boundaries and prioritize their well-being for the sake of their mental and physical health. 

But critics suggest that the mentality is lazy and won’t get you far in your career.

Now, a new work trend is emerging: acting your wage. 

What does it mean to act your wage?

Quiet quitting and acting your wage (not to be confused with the Dave Ramsey game) bear some striking similarities, but the concepts are not identical. The latter concept stems from the idea that workers are not being compensated fairly for often grueling jobs. Inflation is outpacing the growth of the average salary.

Acting your wage, as you can probably guess from the name, means doing only the job you’re paid to do — and nothing more. So, if you’re earning minimum wage, you should do the minimum amount of work.

Like quiet quitting, acting your wage is a way to establish boundaries and take care of yourself. It also means that you’re not working any more — or less — than you’re being paid to work. According to Insider, it’s more common among blue-collar workers, while quiet quitting is more common among white-collar workers. 

Sound reasonable? Many people agree. Those who are acting their wage say it’s basically just doing your job and not doing extra jobs. But as with quiet quitting, the topic is a divisive one.

Dangers of acting your wage.

“Despite the bad hand dealt to this cohort, slow-walking your job isn’t the answer,” Jack Kelly writes. “You may temporarily feel good when you say ‘no’ to the boss and assert your autonomy of not being forced into working long hours without any appreciation or extra compensation. After a while, this attitude can become entrenched. It's an ‘us against them’ mentality. Workers will spend more time extricating themselves from working than the actual work.”

According to Kelly, rather than getting caught up in this mentality, workers should consider what they really want to do in their careers and not waste time at seemingly dead-end jobs. He also suggests letting your manager know if you feel ignored and like your talents aren’t being well used.

It is certainly quite possible that your manager and employer will become frustrated by a perceived lack of effort on your part. But surely, act your wagers would argue that it’s not a lack of effort — it’s merely effort that is commensurate with their compensation. And getting your boss to take notice or finding a job that truly engages you and pays you well is easier said than done.

And yet at the same time, taking your frustration out on your work may likely contribute to low morale at your company, as well as jeopardize your own position and career, even if it seems justified. 

As with quiet quitting, acting your wage is certainly a complicated issue, a trend that is sure to incite much debate. And there’s hardly a clear right or wrong when it comes to which side you fall on. So, we’re curious: what do you think of the concept of acting your wage?


This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Laura Berlinsky-Schine is an editor and writer based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab-mix Hercules. She primarily focuses on education, technology and career development. She has worked with Penguin Random House, Fairygodboss, CollegeVine, BairesDev and many other publications and organizations. Her humor writing has appeared in the Belladonna, Weekly Humorist, Slackjaw, Little Old Lady Comedy, and Points in Case. She also writes fiction and essays, which have appeared in publications including The Memoirist and The Avalon Literary Review. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.

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