"Quiet quitting" is a workplace trend that promotes doing as much work as is spelled out in your job description – and nothing more. Opinions on quiet quitting very widely; some shame it as disengagement while others consider it to be healthy boundary setting. Is quiet quitting a way to achieve work-life balance or a way to harm your career advancement?
Quiet Quitting Is Not Quitting
Much of the chatter around quiet quitting concerns the term itself. Some dislike that it sounds like employees are ending their jobs, others oppose that it sounds like workers are doing something wrong. Yet others think it sounds so negative because workers are doing something wrong.
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With quiet quitting, the only thing workers are "quitting" is going above and beyond their job descriptions to take on extra work. Advocates see this as a positive move against hustle culture and burnout and towards mental health and healthy boundaries. As one popular TikTok user, @zkchillin, put it, "Work is NOT your life. Your worth is not defined by your productive output."
Critics say quiet quitters are slacking off, checking out and doing the bare minimum while employee engagement and company culture plummet.
There are many supporters on both sides and a lot of social media coverage. The top 10 TikTok video search results for the hashtag #quietquitting tally to over 25 million views. National Public Radio (NPR) wants to know what quiet quitting means to their listeners and readers, collecting the information through a survey posted on the NPR website.
Where Did It Come From?
Most everyone agrees that millennials and Gen Zers did not invent quiet quitting. While the term itself may be new, and the social media commentary is characteristic of Gen Z, the idea of not doing extra work without additional compensation is as old as the establishment of the first labor union more than 150 years ago.
But the surfacing of this old idea with a new name is no coincidence. Since the pandemic, the workplace has been through the wringer, from workplace closures and a rapid shift to remote work to the reshuffling of workplace responsibilities and the blurring of the boundary between work and personal life.
A 2022 study by Pew Research found that 61 percent of remote workers were working from home by choice. As workplaces recover from the aftermath of the pandemic, though, an increasing number of bosses want employees back in the office. Perhaps most notable of those against remote work is Elon Musk, who accused his remote staffers of "phoning it in."
Workplace turmoil continued through "The Great Resignation" and "The Great Reshuffle". Since the pandemic, the workplace and the employer-employee relationship has been anything but traditional. Even the five-day workweek has been under fire.
Outside the office environment, service workers in all sectors faced layoffs, overwork and burnout as they showed up to work in unprecedented times, often performing work far outside of their standard duties. Understaffing and overworking went hand-in-hand in the food service, hospitality and healthcare industries as 47 million people quit their jobs in 2021, as noted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Enter quiet quitting. This is why many consider it a return to balance by revisiting job descriptions and realigning duties and expectations accordingly.
"Quiet quitting" is a workplace trend that promotes doing as much work as is spelled out in your job description – and nothing more.
Can Quiet Quitting Harm Career Advancement?
A recent LinkedIn article used the turning down of work projects as an example of quiet quitting. Some employers and coworkers may see the rejection of work as not being a team player. If that's the case, it certainly could impact your next promotion.
But other examples of quiet quitting, such as shutting your laptop as the clock strikes quitting time and not answering work emails outside of business hours, may be more widely recognized as setting boundaries between work time and home time.
How your organization views quiet quitting and just how you perform your quiet quit will determine whether your job and career path are impacted.
- NPR: What Is 'Quiet Quitting," and Why It May Be a Misnomer for Setting Boundaries at Work
- The National Law Review: Employers Address Quiet Quitting
- LinkedIn News: Quiet Quitting
- Library of Congress: Founding of the National Labor Union and the 1st National Call for a 8-Hour Work Day
- U.S. Chamber of Congress: Understanding America’s Labor Shortage: The Most Impacted Industries
- Bloomberg:Elon Musk's Demand Staffers Stop 'Phoning It in' May Cost Him Talent
- U.S. Bureau of Statistics: The “Great Resignation” in perspective
- Public Affairs Council: The Great “Reshuffle” – How Leaders Retain Talent