Quiet Quitting: What Is It, And How Did It Become So Popular?

September 22, 2022

Quiet quitting is a term that has gained a lot of attention recently. Despite its name, the term actually has nothing to do with leaving your job quietly or otherwise. Instead, the term quiet quitting is about not buying into the notion that work has to take over your life or going above and beyond your job description.

Quiet quitting can mean different things to different people. It could be not answering emails outside of office hours, never staying late or turning down projects that don’t fall within a person’s job role. In this article, we will look at what quiet quitting means, why it has become so popular and whether it’s a good or bad thing for workers.

What exactly is quiet quitting?

As we mentioned above, quiet quitting has nothing to do with quietly quitting your job and leaving, never to be seen again. Quiet quitting means coming into work, doing your job every day without going above and beyond, never taking on extra tasks or projects, clocking off at exactly 5 pm, and never responding to work messages outside the office. Some workers admit quitting quietly because they are simply less invested in their careers. It is about setting boundaries and maintaining a favourable work-life balance for others.

The trend, which took off on TikTok, popular with generation Z workers, has now gone viral and is thought to have been caused by two years of a global pandemic, during which time many of us have become distanced both mentally and physically from our employers and teams. A 2022 survey found that 43% of employees say the pandemic has reduced the importance they put on their careers.

As a result, people are no longer living to work. Instead, they work to live, and for quiet quitters, that means fulfilling their job role without going above and beyond and not letting it seep into other areas of their lives.

Why are people doing it?

We are all taught that if we want to get ahead, we need to take on extra responsibility, network and do things that make us stand out from the crowd. But, unfortunately, it’s too easy to get caught up in work and sometimes so much so that it affects the rest of our lives and reduces the time we have to do the things we enjoy. In addition, we live in a time when some employees might not be seeing the wage increases they need to keep up with the cost of living, and this can feel discouraging and cause us to lose motivation to do a good job.

There are many reasons why employees choose to quit quietly, whether its about taking back control of their work/life balance or avoiding burnout and protecting themselves from being overworked. Employees don’t go into a job with the intention of adopting a quiet quitting mindset.

Yet over time, for one or more reasons, they decide enough is enough and overworking themselves to get ahead is not worth the sacrifice. So they instead decide to reign things in and simply do the bare minimum to earn their money and fulfil their obligations to their employer.

How to address quiet quitting

Employers need to address why their employees are choosing to quit quietly. Are members of your team who were previously overstretched now refusing to take on tasks outside their typical responsibilities? Instead of seeing it as hindering the workplace, employers should see quiet quitting as an opportunity to improve the workplace culture. Employees who quietly quit tend to be dissatisfied and do so as a result of poor management.

If you are managing a team member who has decided to quit quietly, it’s worth considering that they are doing so because of their poor relationship with management. The key here is to improve the working relationship by meeting with them regularly to discuss their interests, values, job satisfaction and career goals. Many quiet quitters are employees that simply are not supported, so improving the relationship is the first step in addressing the situation.

It would be straightforward to say quiet quitting is about lazy and unmotivated employees out to cause trouble. However, in most cases, that isn’t true, and most simply, employees who feel undervalued and overworked want to avoid burnout whilst improving other areas of their lives. By taking a moment to understand the reasons why someone has chosen to quit quietly you can look to move forward and find ways of working that suits both the employee and the company.


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