What is 'quiet quitting' and why is everybody talking about it?
Have you been 'quiet quitting' your job?
I only came across this term rather recently, but I have to admit, having spent most of my adult life in the era of hustle culture and #girlboss vibes, it fascinated me to no end.
Apparently, the whole trend all started with a 17-second clip by an American TikTok-er.
And no, 'quiet quitting' does not mean ghosting your employer or just not showing up to work, or suddenly quitting without saying goodbye to colleagues.
Instead, the trend embraces the notion of not going above and beyond at work – just doing the bare minimum, really – and the notion – and TikTok hashtags – have caused an awful lot of noise.
@zaidleppelin On quiet quitting #workreform ♬ original sound - ruby
To be clear, there’s no single definition of the term quiet quitting. For some, it seems to simply mean setting boundaries and not taking on additional work; for others, it just means not going above and beyond.
Interestingly, most, however, agree it does not mean you’re leaving the job.
Is 'quiet quitting' just work-life balance?
I have always had pretty strict boundaries when it comes to work-life balance. I think maybe that comes from being Scandinavian, where, in general, most people have a much better work-life balance than in Ireland, and people tend to leave work at work.
In Norway, for instance, the working week is 37 hours, and office hours are 8 AM to 4 PM – and you can rest assured that come 4.15 PM, there is no one left in the office. Instead, people have left to collect their children, go to the gym, relax and watch TV, get dinner started, spend time in nature or hang out with family or friends – in other words, just live their lives outside of work.
Personally, I have always refused to have my work e-mail connected to my phone – work e-mail belongs on my laptop, where I can check it when I am actually working. However, I know so well this is not the case for so many, and ever since technology made it possible for us to be contactable 24/7, the reality is that many are feeling like they have to then be available 24/7 – that such is life now.
@saraisthreads #greenscreen I’d rather spend time with my family. ?? #actyourwage #fyp #work #working #corporate #corporatelife #corporatetiktok #corporateamerica #corporatehumor #office #officelife #manager #managersbelike #career #quietquitting #quietquittingmyjob ♬ original sound - Sarai Marie
However, while it's getting a lot of exposure now, people setting boundaries for work-life balance isn't anything groundbreaking.
"It may be a TikTok phenomenon, but it is definitely not new,"explains Cynthia Pong, founder and CEO of career coaching firm Embrace Change to Real Simple.
"If anything, this has to do with generational values—what this generation wants and their values that are less of an 'all about the money' kind of thing."
And Pong think the past couple of years and all the upheaval they brought is one of the main reason people are starting to reevaluate their work-life balance.
"The pandemic has been the catalyst for a lot of people to recognize what's most important in their lives," she says. "And employees have been reeling back, looking to preserve their lives, and their family life."
Normalising your work not being your life
Pong thinks returning to the office may have been the final straw for many workers as surveys show many people wanted to keep working from home.
"Bosses do not trust their workers to do their jobs, and can't seem to realise how much that damages morale," says Ed Zitron, CEO of public relations firm EZPR, who has written extensively on the topic of quiet quitting.
"If I had a boss that was forcing me back to the office for no reason—which is the case in most situations where someone is being forced back—I would definitely not be going above and beyond, because they were doing the opposite for me."
Quiet quitting can also be considered a bit of a correction from the 'lean-in' and 'hustle culture' vibes that have dominated career conversations over the past few years.
"There's been a flat-out rejection of that," Pong says. "People are not going to jump through hoops anymore."
However, by calling it quiet quitting, employers have pushed the narrative that "above and beyond" performance is what's expected.
"Quiet quitting is commonly being referred to as doing the bare minimum at work, which makes it sound like people are being lazy or entitled," Zitron explains.
"The bare minimum actually means working the hours you're meant to, doing the tasks you're assigned, which is otherwise known as going to and doing your job."