How to 'act your wage,' according to 2 millennials who did it: 'If a company is paying you, let's say minimum wage, you're gonna put in minimum effort'

 A boss tries to give her employee, Veronica, a stack of papers to work on overnight.

"Respectfully, Susan, I'd rather spend time with my family," Veronica replies. Then, she declines a 6:30 pm Zoom meeting; it's outside of her working hours.

Veronica and Susan aren't real. They're characters played by 30-year-old content creator Sarai Soto, whose TikToks on quiet quitting, acting your wage, and asserting boundaries at work have racked up millions of likes and views.

"People just really feel seen, they feel heard, they feel like someone's standing up for them," Soto told Insider. "I can't tell you how many messages I receive of people being like, okay, I know your content is funny and provides this comedic relief, but I'm telling you, although it's exaggerated, I've been through those exact same scenarios."

Soto herself is no stranger to quiet quitting, the act of doing your job and nothing above and beyond. She's done it before to preserve her mental health in a "terrible job" she was miserable at, which she ultimately left.

It's also become a fundamental part of her success on TikTok. When Soto tipped her toes into content creating, workplace videos were the ones that went viral. She discovered there was an audience of people who feel stuck at work, can't quit, and crave the scenarios she's acting out. 

Here's how Soto's characters and other workers are quiet quitting, or, as some workers have rebranded it, "acting your wage."

Put in the amount of effort that matches your salary

The trends of quiet quitting and acting your wage have set the internet ablaze, with managers threatening that quiet quitters could be the first to go when layoffs come around. 

But the pushback to quiet quitting reveals more about managers than workers — showing they have always expected overwork. Employees are no longer onboard with that, especially as prices rise, wages don't keep up, and going above and beyond just results in more work. That's where acting your wage comes in.

"If a company is paying you, let's say minimum wage, you're gonna put in minimum effort," Soto said. "If you're acting your wage, that means that the amount of labor that you're putting in reflects the amount that you're getting paid. So you're not going to go above and beyond and do the job of two to three people and do all this extra work if you're really not even making a livable wage."

Soto said that quiet quitting doesn't necessarily mean you do a bad job, or you're no longer invested in your work.

"It just simply means make sure that you go to work and you set those boundaries when you feel burnt out," she said. 

Make changes to your environment that you can control

For Billy, a warehouse worker in Ireland in his mid 30s, it's all about making work work for you. As he performed his night shifts, Billy didn't want to let his mind stay idle — and substituted ambient radio listening for listening to audiobooks. He powered through Karl Marx's "Das Kapital" in just four weeks.

"The only thing I did is I changed what was playing on the radio. That's the only thing I did," Billy, whose last name is known to Insider but withheld for privacy, said. "There was no material change. I wasn't doing any more or any less work otherwise."

That type of little thing — exerting control over something you're able to influence at work — is key, Billy said. It doesn't have to be audiobooks; maybe you're just simply changing the TV channel at the bar where you work.

"When you're put into a workplace, you're put into a box. It's somebody else's box," Billy said. 

But, even so, "there are ways that we can control our workplaces," he said, even if they're small. And those victories of making work work for you — and acting your wage — can push towards something even greater.

"Employees have a lot of power right now to negotiate. They have choices with the Great Resignation," Soto said. "So I'm hoping that people will just continue to rise up and continue to raise awareness about this."

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