What Is the ‘Act Your Wage’ Trend in the Workplace?

“Acting your wage” means only working as hard as your salary level seems to dictate, rather than doing what it takes to get the job done.

This strategy comes with upsides and downsides, so should you do it? Here’s what to know about “acting your wage.”

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What Is the ‘Act Your Wage’ Workplace Trend?

The “act your wage” trend is one way that workers push back on stress and burnout by putting up better boundaries between their professional and personal lives. While Bare Minimum Mondays refer to starting the workweek off at a calm pace rather than a frenzy, “act your wage” incorporates salary into the theme.

“In the wake of layoffs or hiring freezes, employees are increasingly reluctant to take on additional roles beyond their designated scope,” said Aaron Rubens, co-founder and CEO of the workplace recognition online platform Kudoboard, in an email. “Some top performers recognize that assuming extra responsibilities often leads to further expectations without commensurate rewards, prompting them to align their efforts with their titles and compensation.”

What Are Signs That You’re ‘Acting Your Wage’ at Work?

If you find yourself doing less than what needs to be done at work or completing only what you absolutely must do, you might be “acting your wage” at work.

According to Rubens, signs that you’re “acting your wage” include strictly sticking to your job description, avoiding extra assignments and prioritizing work-life balance over your position’s responsibilities. “You feel reluctant to go above and beyond, especially if you perceive that doing so won’t be adequately recognized or rewarded,” Rubens said.

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Why Do Employees Decide to ‘Act Their Wage?’

The decision to “act your wage” reflects a shift in employees’ understanding of work dynamics, catalyzed by the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact and amplified by social media, Rubens said.

“With heightened awareness of holistic well-being and work-life balance, employees recognize the need to establish boundaries and safeguard their resources,” Rubens said. “This realization stems from a growing sentiment that employers prioritize productivity over employee welfare, prompting individuals to set limits to protect their health and happiness.” He added that social media platforms have played a pivotal role, providing a platform for employees to voice their discontent and find solidarity among peers, fostering a sense of empowerment to advocate for their well-being in the workplace.

“Employees’ decision to ‘act their wage’ often reflects the erosion of an organization’s culture and feelings of belonging,” Rubens said. “Although boundaries come from a need for balance, they’re also the result of a disconnect caused by faltering core values and appreciation cultures from the top down. When leadership doesn’t prioritize true authentic recognition and provide adequate compensation for work, employees naturally disengage from the business.”

Should You ‘Act Your Wage?’

Taking the concept of “acting your” wage too far could flag to your manager that you’re checked out of your job, putting your employment in jeopardy. But Rubens believes there’s merit in discussing the concept of “acting your wage,” and that positive results can come out of it — if you handle it properly by making sure your boss understands why you’re feeling disconnected from your job.

“Ideally, this trend sparks a reassessment among leadership teams, encouraging them to prioritize employee appreciation and foster healthier workplace cultures,” Rubens said. “If leadership is looking to bring employees back into the fold, they’ll need to take active steps to engage them with company culture and encourage feelings of belonging. That being said, employees need to make this undercurrent of ‘acting your wage’ felt, as disengaging without communicating concerns to management will unlikely yield positive outcomes.”

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What Are the Pros and Cons of ‘Acting Your Wage?’

To help you consider whether or not you want to “act your wage” at work by matching your salary level to your effort on the job, Rubens suggests considering these pros and cons:

Pros to “acting your wage:”

— Better work-life balance.

— More time for personal projects.

— Stronger boundaries between work and non-work activities.

— Employers may be encouraged to appreciate employee contributions adequately.

— Employees may feel empowered to prioritize well-being and advocate for themselves.

Cons to “acting your wage:”

— Might hurt your promotability and limit your career growth opportunities.

— Could jeopardize your employment at the company.

— May strain your relationships with teammates, leadership and your boss.

— Could lead to feelings of stagnation or dissatisfaction if you feel unfulfilled by strictly adhering to your job description.

In the end, you need to weigh whether “acting your wage” is the best way to get what you want. If you feel like you don’t make a high enough salary for the work you’re expected to do, consider talking to your manager and being transparent about your experience.

You may receive the company’s support for setting limits around your work activities without needing to burn any bridges.

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What Is the ‘Act Your Wage’ Trend in the Workplace? originally appeared on usnews.com

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