Tired of going above and beyond at work for little-to-no recognition or reward, it appears people are beginning to embrace the trend of “quiet quitting” in the workplace.
But, unlike the name suggests, these people are not actively trying to remove themselves from the company payroll – they’re simply establishing better work-life boundaries by doing what’s necessary to stay employed but not breaking their backs to surpass expectations.
The trend, like so many these days, is picking up steam on social media, particularly TikTok, where the #QuietQuitting hashtag has amassed almost five million views.
Proponents of the new trend largely reject the idea of “hustle mentality” and “leaning in,” and instead are doing exactly what’s in their job description, leaving on time, and not checking their email outside of office hours.
“Our ‘work’ and our ‘life’ aren’t easily disentangled,” Dr. Maria Kordowicz, an associate professor in organizational behaviour at the University of Nottingham, told GQ magazine. “The quality of one directly impacts our experience of the other. Quiet quitting is about a conscious effort to uphold our well-being in the way we work, rather than risk burnout through working long hours or defining ourselves simply through our work.”
TikTok creator Zaid Khan summed it up in a video posted to the platform:
“You’re not quitting your job, but you’re quitting the idea of going above and beyond,” he explained in the video, which has amassed millions of views.
“You’re no longer subscribing to the hustle-culture mentality that work has to be your life.”
In an interview with ABC News, digital creator Paige West said she began to embrace quiet quitting when she found herself working from home during the COVID pandemic.
“I was really struggling with just the idea of a 9-to-5, especially when COVID hit and we were all working from home,” said West. “I was just stuck at my desk all day from (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.), at a minimum, working on my computer, staring at a screen. For me, that just wasn’t the ideal situation.”
“I didn’t want to constantly feel that stress of working that job and feeling like I needed to put my 1,000 per cent in. So I decided to scale that back and really just do the work that was required of me.”
People Management, a U.K.-based magazine for those working in Human Resources, argues that people have been quietly quitting for years, whether to look for a new job, feeling frustrated with their career path or dealing with an unmanageable workload.
However, Jill Cotton, a career trends expert with Glassdoor, told the publication that the pandemic fanned the flames of burnout for many.
“The difference now is that when the pandemic flipped the world of work upside down, it prompted more and more people to question their career and work-life balance choices,” said Cotton.
Kordowicz agrees, telling The Guardian that “since the pandemic, people’s relationship with work has been studied in many ways, and the literature typically, across the professions, would argue that, yes, people’s way of relating to their work has changed.”
Kordowicz added: “The search for meaning has become far more apparent. There was a sense of our own mortality during the pandemic, something quite existential around people thinking ‘What should work mean for me? How can I do a role that’s more aligned to my values?’”
Recent survey data from Gallup found that generation Z and millennial workers want to work for, above everything else, organizations that care about their employees’ well-being. However, young workers said physical wellness isn’t enough and that they want career, social, financial and community wellness, too.
“Employees are saying, ‘I’m not going to define myself by traditional markers of career progression and success,’” Mark Royal, senior client partner for Korn Ferry, a recruiting and HR consulting firm, told USA Today. “I’m going to put a box around work.”
Videos tagged #QuietQuitting have a host of suggestions on how to quiet quit. Many suggest closing your computer as soon as your shift’s over, taking your full lunch break, using up all of your allowed vacation and personal days and rejecting extra assignments.
Some people are coming to realize they’ve been participating in their own quiet quitting for years – they just didn’t know about the trendy new name.
“I just realized that is what I have been doing against my will,” posted Clayton Farris, an actor and self-proclaimed quiet quitter.
“I still get just as much accomplished,” Farris said. “I just don’t stress and internally rip myself to shreds. And it’s beautiful!”
Without a doubt, the notion of a quiet quitting movement is likely sparking plenty of conversations among worried HR staff, managers and executives.
However, experts have advice for nervous leaders who genuinely want to quell the need for quiet quitting.
“Managers are really important, and that does start at the top,” Jim Harter, chief scientist of workplace and well-being at Gallup, told Today. “It is important to have the right kind of conversations at the right time so that people do know what’s expected of them and their role, and how their work connects to something bigger.”
Royal also suggests that companies and managers address and actively work to prevent employee burnout by prioritizing tasks, creating clear social media and email expectations and policies and clearly communicating with their employees.