What is quiet quitting? Should managers be worried about this global trend?

Updated: Aug 23

After the Great Resignation, a new phenomenon known as "quiet quitting" has gained widespread attention among working people. When we hear the phrase, we may instantly picture someone planning to quit their jobs covertly and disappear without a trace. Is this the real premise of this trending terminology?

 

1. What quiet quitting exactly means


In a nutshell, “quiet quitting” is not quitting your job but “quitting the idea of going above and beyond at work”, according to Tiktoker zkchillin whose video about this topic hitted 3M views so far. Quiet quitters set a clear boundary between work and personal lives, they say no to hustle culture and only provide adequate effort that is enough to keep their spot. According to Metro, “quiet quitting” may take various forms, such as turning down projects based on interest, refusing to answer work messages outside of working hours, not participating in company bonding activities or simply feeling less invested in the role.



2. When and where was this term created?


Quiet quitting has been discussed on social media about 3 months ago but not only when the 17-second-video talking about this term of Tiktoker zkchillin went viral did people start a huge discussion about it. According to The Guardian, quiet quitting may have been inspired by Chinese social media: #TangPing, or lying flat, is a now-censored hashtag apparently prompted by China’s shrinking workforce and long-hours culture.


3. Why does quiet quitting spark so many debates?


Easily misunderstood

People may assume right away from the phrase that it is used to describe people who are so frustrated and unsatisfied with their jobs that they wish to quit without warning or a letter of resignation. This interpretation is entirely at odds with its true significance, which is to give up the notion that someone should work excessively beyond the obligations outlined in their JD. Therefore, it is not surprising that individuals argue passionately over this subject to state their own opinions.


Negative spin on positive action

For some people, doing just enough in the office to keep up is simply the concept of work-life balance culture. Therefore, they felt annoyed to be labeled as quiet quitters - a negative term for doing such a right thing to protect themselves from the toxic hustle culture.


They claim that practicing work-life balance is not an excuse for disengagement at work but to set appropriate boundaries between their personal lives and profession: “It’s all about work life balance. During the working hours I am 100% dedicated to my job. But when I'm outside of my working hours I would like to switch off with my family and friends and enjoy the short periods of time we have away from work. Certainly does not mean I'm not invested in my job or career. No company should expect you to work all hours and sacrifice your home life”, said Sebastian Court, a Commercial Analyst at Metro Bank (UK) on LinkedIn.




Sebastian Court shared his thought on LinkedIn



Iris Smyth, a Career Coach, had the same thought that “quiet quitting” is given a negative connotation: “I think the way Quiet Quitting is described in this article is slightly off. What they're describing is setting healthy boundaries and subscribing to the idea of having a life outside of work - i.e. of not letting work be your be-all and end-all.”


Different positions have different perspectives

Another reason why quiet quitting sparks so many debates is that employees and managers may have different points of view on this topic. Not taking part in company activities, not returning messages after hours, or declining to take on extra tasks may be viewed by some managers as signs of disengagement or negligence at work. However, employees view those doings as a means of striking a balance between work and personal life that companies should encourage and support them to practice. Some managers believe that employees should show their commitment and devotion by voluntarily taking on more tasks, but employees believe that they do not need to sacrifice for their jobs if they are not given recognition that is equivalent to their effort.


In other words, some employees may be viewed as quiet quitters because they refuse to go above and beyond in work but under employees’ point of view, they have already fulfilled their duty by completing assigned tasks, as paid as agreed so it is wrong to view them not investing their whole life into work as “quite quitting”.


3. Should managers be worried about this global trend?


It is a tough question that managers are wondering themselves since it may affect the productivity and working culture of their organizations. In fact, it is not an emerging problem as people have been talking about this topic ever since the COVID-19 pandemic under the name of “work-life balance”.


Many people were forced to switch from on-site working to hybrid or entirely remote work as the COVID-19 swept around the globe. This behavior developed during the pandemic has blurred the boundaries between personal and professional lives, which continues to affect how people work now and leads to massive burnout.



Result of conducted survey on “America's Mental Health Survey” by Health America (MHA)


Additionally, the pandemic gave people the chance to stay close to their family and loved ones, which they were barely able to because of the hustle and bustle of working life. They soon realized that above work and money, what matters most is family and their own wishes. They shouldn't have sacrificed their lives for a career that could cost them precious time with their loved ones.


Since the pandemic began, mental health related issues had been highly problematic for employees. While 47% of those who are unemployed report high stress levels, 42% of employed workers say their stress levels are high or very high right now.



Result of conducted survey on “America's Mental Health Survey” by Health America (MHA)


Therefore, it’s inevitable that people are striving for a work-life balance culture. Research from Health America (MHA) pointed out that while just 51% of workers feel they have the emotional support they need at work to assist managing stress, they do believe businesses can help employees navigate workplace stress and improve mental health. Flexibility in their workday was heavily mentioned as the best way their workplace might support them by 56% of respondents. At 43%, encouraging time off and providing mental health days matched for second and third place. Increased PTO and improved health insurance, according to 28%, were the next best methods to provide help.



Source: Result of conducted survey on “America's Mental Health Survey” by Health America (MHA)


Conclusion


Overall, “Quiet Quitting” is not a new problem, it is just a new workplace phenomenon. It may sound like the act of someone silently resigning, but it actually refers to the rejection of “hustle culture” — the expectation to go above and beyond in your job, rather than simply doing the requirements of the job. However, in order to decrease employee’s “quiet quitting” attitude the company should also focus on making employees feel valued and recognized for who they are so that they have a more emotional connection to the organization. Enabling managers to focus on building more personal relationships and empathy with their teams should help to avoid widespread issues of employee disengagement.



 

References


FlexJobs. n.d. “Mental Health America Survey: Mental Health in the Workplace.” Accessed August 10, 2022. https://www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/flexjobs-mha-mental-health-workplace-pandemic/.

Tapper, James. 2022. “Quiet quitting: why doing the bare minimum at work has gone global.” The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/money/2022/aug/06/quiet-quitting-why-doing-the-bare-minimum-at-work-has-gone-global.


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