The Gurus Who Say They Can Make Quiet Quitting Disappear—for $15,000 a Day | Kanebridge News
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The Gurus Who Say They Can Make Quiet Quitting Disappear—for $15,000 a Day

Some have Ivy League degrees, others have no degrees, but these workplace consultants all say they’ve got an antidote to the viral trend of employee disengagement

Fri, Oct 7, 2022 8:46amGrey Clock 4 min

His name is Dean Lindsay, though that’s not what he goes by on LinkedIn. “Quiet Quitting Keynote Speaker” is this search-savvy consultant’s new moniker, and he says it’s helping him get hired—at $10,000 to $15,000 a day—by companies sweating the latest buzzy term for employee disengagement.

Mr. Lindsay, who has been advising businesses about corporate culture for two decades, says quiet quitting is closely related to burnout, work-life balance, stress management and other phenomena that came before. His prescriptions are largely the same, too.

When he saw the viral TikTok phrase had quickly migrated from social media to the C-suite, compelling many bosses to think about how to stop workers from checking out, he didn’t hesitate to rebrand, swapping out his name on LinkedIn for something catchy and of-the-moment.

“I just jumped on it,” he says.

If you’re running a company now, chances are your inbox is full of messages from experts claiming they can goose morale, foster connection, boost buy-in and make various other jargon-studded dreams come true. The people who claim to know the most about quiet quitting are real go-getters, it turns out.

The extent of the problem these consultants aim to solve, and whether it’s new, is debatable. Many of them say that’s beside the point. Getting people to care more deeply about their jobs and colleagues may be a perpetual corporate mission, but it’s an important one, the argument goes. So what if it took a meme to intensify the sense of urgency?

Some, like Mr. Lindsay, run rousing workshops full of motivational mnemonics. (It’s all about the six P’s of progress, he says: pleasure, peace of mind, profit, prestige, pain avoidance and power.)

Less experienced consultants advertise youth as an advantage, saying they can get through to millennials and Gen Z.

Still others offer to set up employee-driven charitable campaigns, using company dollars, to make people feel better about where they work.

Rising Team, a Palo Alto, Calif., startup that sells camaraderie-building software designed to reduce quitting (quiet or otherwise), just closed a second venture-capital round, bringing total investments to $6 million.

For human-resources leaders, the pitches can seem endless.

Priti Patel, chief people officer at G2, a technology marketplace, says she gets daily emails about solving burnout and quiet quitting.

“I don’t even count anymore,” she says.

While some solicitations strike her as gimmicky, Ms. Patel says she doesn’t roll her eyes at all of them. She landed her current position last year after first working with the company as an independent “conscious leadership” coach, which she describes as helping managers deepen their emotional intelligence.

Her take on quiet quitting is that it’s simply the notion of having boundaries at work— hardly new. Nevertheless, establishing the boundaries is a real challenge for managers and direct reports alike, she says, and sometimes an outsider can help set expectations that work for everyone.

Karyn Twaronite, Ernst & Young’s global diversity, equity and inclusion officer, adds that HR consultants can lend valuable perspectives if they represent the views of young people or others who are missing or rare in the executive ranks. EY uses a mix of internal and external advisers, she says, and conducts quarterly “pulse” surveys, asking whether employees feel that they belong at the firm—which last month started splitting its consulting and auditing businesses—and are free to be themselves.

“These feel like softer things, but we know that they’re critical because if people don’t feel this way, then they could, in theory, quit,” she says. “If a consultant can help leaders listen to their employees or decipher the data, that’s really important.”

Data is a main selling point for Rising Team, the venture-funded startup that Facebook, Google and Yahoo veteran Jennifer Dulski launched in 2020. (She says her business idea predates the pandemic, but “the timing turned out to be perfect.”) Her young company starts by polling a client’s staff to measure the likelihood they’ll stay, and says in a few months it can deliver a meaningful increase in the share who plan to stick around.

Ms. Dulski, who teaches management at Stanford Graduate School of Business, aims to get co-workers to know and like each other—and without resorting to hackneyed exercises like trust falls. Rising Team’s “kits,” as she calls the software, lead groups of employees through virtual or in-person discussions every six weeks or so. A kit for a 10-person team costs $99 a month, and companies with many teams can get discounts for buying in bulk.

The idea is that workers who are invested in their colleagues are less likely to slack off or leave.

Money helps, too, though raises and bonuses aren’t the only ways to promote loyalty and engagement, says Tess Murphy, director of strategic partnerships at Kiva, a microfinance nonprofit. Her pitch to companies is that they can pump up employee enthusiasm by letting every worker direct a small sum—as little as $50—to a favourite cause.

Kiva has managed these corporate programs for eight years, but the tumult of the past two has prompted more workers to consider whether they and their employers are making a difference in the world, Ms. Murphy says. Businesses, in turn, are grasping for initiatives that can give their people a sense of purpose.

Ms. Murphy says companies wonder, “ ‘How do we get them connected and excited about the work that we’re doing?’ ”

Much of their consternation centres on young workers who fixate on what is, or isn’t, in their job descriptions and put in too few hours for some of their older colleagues’ tastes, she says.

Appealing to executives who are confounded by their greenest employees, Adam Owens left a steady human-resources job and started his own consulting operation this year. He bills himself as an unconventional alternative to competitors with Ivy League M.B.A.s and decades of experience. If you’re a Boomer or Gen Xer trying to figure out Gen Zers, he says, hire someone like him, a former philosophy major who dropped out of college in the aughts and built a career without the typical credentials.

Many young workers aren’t unmotivated, he adds, but they don’t necessarily measure success like their predecessors or do what they’re supposed to do in the eyes of others. He aims to help bosses understand what these employees really care about.

“Millennials are uniquely positioned to deal with this challenge,” Mr. Owens says. “We function as a bridge between the other generations.”


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China’s EV Juggernaut Is a Warning for the West

Competitive pressure and creativity have made Chinese-designed and -built electric cars formidable competitors

Thu, Jun 8, 2023 4 min

China rocked the auto world twice this year. First, its electric vehicles stunned Western rivals at the Shanghai auto show with their quality, features and price. Then came reports that in the first quarter of 2023 it dethroned Japan as the world’s largest auto exporter.

How is China in contention to lead the world’s most lucrative and prestigious consumer goods market, one long dominated by American, European, Japanese and South Korean nameplates? The answer is a unique combination of industrial policy, protectionism and homegrown competitive dynamism. Western policy makers and business leaders are better prepared for the first two than the third.

Start with industrial policy—the use of government resources to help favoured sectors. China has practiced industrial policy for decades. While it’s finding increased favour even in the U.S., the concept remains controversial. Governments have a poor record of identifying winning technologies and often end up subsidising inferior and wasteful capacity, including in China.

But in the case of EVs, Chinese industrial policy had a couple of things going for it. First, governments around the world saw climate change as an enduring threat that would require decade-long interventions to transition away from fossil fuels. China bet correctly that in transportation, the transition would favour electric vehicles.

In 2009, China started handing out generous subsidies to buyers of EVs. Public procurement of taxis and buses was targeted to electric vehicles, rechargers were subsidised, and provincial governments stumped up capital for lithium mining and refining for EV batteries. In 2020 NIO, at the time an aspiring challenger to Tesla, avoided bankruptcy thanks to a government-led bailout.

While industrial policy guaranteed a demand for EVs, protectionism ensured those EVs would be made in China, by Chinese companies. To qualify for subsidies, cars had to be domestically made, although foreign brands did qualify. They also had to have batteries made by Chinese companies, giving Chinese national champions like Contemporary Amperex Technology and BYD an advantage over then-market leaders from Japan and South Korea.

To sell in China, foreign automakers had to abide by conditions intended to upgrade the local industry’s skills. State-owned Guangzhou Automobile Group developed the manufacturing know-how necessary to become a player in EVs thanks to joint ventures with Toyota and Honda, said Gregor Sebastian, an analyst at Germany’s Mercator Institute for China Studies.

Despite all that government support, sales of EVs remained weak until 2019, when China let Tesla open a wholly owned factory in Shanghai. “It took this catalyst…to boost interest and increase the level of competitiveness of the local Chinese makers,” said Tu Le, managing director of Sino Auto Insights, a research service specialising in the Chinese auto industry.

Back in 2011 Pony Ma, the founder of Tencent, explained what set Chinese capitalism apart from its American counterpart. “In America, when you bring an idea to market you usually have several months before competition pops up, allowing you to capture significant market share,” he said, according to Fast Company, a technology magazine. “In China, you can have hundreds of competitors within the first hours of going live. Ideas are not important in China—execution is.”

Thanks to that competition and focus on execution, the EV industry went from a niche industrial-policy project to a sprawling ecosystem of predominantly private companies. Much of this happened below the Western radar while China was cut off from the world because of Covid-19 restrictions.

When Western auto executives flew in for April’s Shanghai auto show, “they saw a sea of green plates, a sea of Chinese brands,” said Le, referring to the green license plates assigned to clean-energy vehicles in China. “They hear the sounds of the door closing, sit inside and look at the quality of the materials, the fabric or the plastic on the console, that’s the other holy s— moment—they’ve caught up to us.”

Manufacturers of gasoline cars are product-oriented, whereas EV manufacturers, like tech companies, are user-oriented, Le said. Chinese EVs feature at least two, often three, display screens, one suitable for watching movies from the back seat, multiple lidars (laser-based sensors) for driver assistance, and even a microphone for karaoke (quickly copied by Tesla). Meanwhile, Chinese suppliers such as CATL have gone from laggard to leader.

Chinese dominance of EVs isn’t preordained. The low barriers to entry exploited by Chinese brands also open the door to future non-Chinese competitors. Nor does China’s success in EVs necessarily translate to other sectors where industrial policy matters less and creativity, privacy and deeply woven technological capability—such as software, cloud computing and semiconductors—matter more.

Still, the threat to Western auto market share posed by Chinese EVs is one for which Western policy makers have no obvious answer. “You can shut off your own market and to a certain extent that will shield production for your domestic needs,” said Sebastian. “The question really is, what are you going to do for the global south, countries that are still very happily trading with China?”

Western companies themselves are likely to respond by deepening their presence in China—not to sell cars, but for proximity to the most sophisticated customers and suppliers. Jörg Wuttke, the past president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, calls China a “fitness centre.” Even as conditions there become steadily more difficult, Western multinationals “have to be there. It keeps you fit.”


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Americans now think they need at least $1.25 million for retirement, a 20% increase from a year ago, according to a survey by Northwestern Mutual

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