“Boomerang Employee” Was New York’s Defining Work Trend of 2023
Now that Thanksgiving is over, it's officially time to start those endless end-of-year recaps... and this one may be the strangest of them all.
What's a Work Trend?
I found myself asking the very same thing when I came across this new study from USDictionary.com. A work trend is essentially a new phrase employees use to describe a particular action, habit or mentality that seems relatively new or a reaction to current times.
You heard of some buzzwords throughout the year, such as "quiet quitting" and "rage applying," but there were some phrases that cropped up throughout the year that didn't make it onto the headlines.
One eye-catching phrase was "Chaotic Working," which was coined in January but failed to gain notoriety like the other unique phrases that came into existence in 2023. Essentially, the term means going above and beyond to use your work duties to assist customers, even if it comes at a detriment to the employer. So, like giving out employee discounts to non-workers, waiving overdraft fees, or handing out free upgrades to customers for no reason.
Despite it not making a huge impact in the media, U.S. Dictionary did find it was New York's third-biggest descriptor of the 2023 workforce.
So if you were serviced by a super-helpful employee and walked away going, "Wow, that person was phenomenal. They were so nice," chances are they were "Chaotic Working" and trying to stick it to their employer.
New York's Biggest Work Trends of 2023
U.S. Dictionary polled 1,000 residents of the Empire State to gauge which work trend reflected their work atmosphere the best.
In sixth place, since all good lists use even numbers, was "Quiet Cutting," which is a simpler way to say "the corporate version of musical chairs." Basically, employees finding themselves assigned new responsibilities whether they like it or not. The old job is gone in favor of a new one - with absolutely no pay raise or shift in duties.
In fifth place was the term "Career Cushioning," which is defined as the strategic hoarding of skills, contacts, and side gigs, just in case your job becomes vulnerable, or you want to consider other opportunities. Essentially, it's doing everything you can to ensure you become too valuable to replace when layoffs loom.
Fourth place goes to the word "Shift Shock," which is like a bait and switch. You interviewed for one job but found yourself working another that was never brought up during the interview process. People liken it to a blind date gone wrong, where the job's charming profile picture doesn't align with reality.
"Chaotic Working," as I discussed above, was New York's third biggest trend while "Bare Minimum Mondays" secured a spot in the penultimate position.
It is one of the newest trends sweeping the workplace, a cheeky nod to the all-too-familiar case of the Mondays. Imagine a day where the collective agreement is to do just enough to keep the gears turning, but not a cog more. Emails? They'll get the succinct reply of "Noted." Reports? Bullet points become the new paragraphs. As for meetings? The art of nodding thoughtfully while sipping coffee is perfected, providing just the right amount of participation to be considered "engaged." It’s the day when the office buzzes with the low-energy hum of computers and the occasional yawn, as everyone mutually agrees to coast through the day on autopilot.
But which trend was #1 in the state? Was it "Quiet Quitting," "Quiet Hiring," or "Rage Applying?"
Actually, none of those mainstream terms earned a spot in this year's roundup and instead first place went to a relatively new terminology for an age-old practice in the workforce.
Imagine you get a swanky new job that has the best benefits, hours and opportunity for growth. You turn in your 2-weeks notice at your old job and prepare for an exciting new chapter in life... only to find this job isn't as fulfilling as initially thought. Maybe it was a new direction that fails to kindle that spark of yours, or maybe you were the victim of "Shift Shock" - either way, you want out and you come crawling back to your former employer.
Yes, that is the #1 work trend of 2023: "Boomerang Employee."
It's a term that conjures up images of workers zipping back to their old jobs with the grace of a well-thrown Australian tool. These are the prodigal professionals who venture out into the wild job market, only to return to their former employers with new tricks and tales of the 'other side.' It's the workplace reunion tour – and everyone loves a comeback story. Boomerang employees embody the hope that sometimes, you can go home again—especially if there's a raise involved.
As wacky as this list may seem, it should be seen as eye opening to the current conditions employees are forced to work.
Shaun Connell, who helped compile the survey, said this proves employers are starting to regain the upper hand in negotiations while employees are losing their collective bargaining power.
After seeing wages rise to compete with inflation amid a worker shortage, it seems workers are once again getting the shaft. "After a year of unprecedented trends in the workforce, it's clear that 2023 has been a defining moment for American employees. Each new workplace term uniquely reflects the evolving attitudes and strategies of workers navigating this era," he said.
What do you think? Do you resonate with any key words on this list or are you a lucky retiree who #cantrelate?
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