Post-Covid and throngs of professionals have mass exited the labor market, driving a Great Resignation movement across the globe. People are abandoning their jobs and switching professions, and remote work is on the rise. There is a great reset in how we think about work as we re-assess our careers and re-evaluate our life priorities.
Then, amongst those who are taking action to leave their burnt-out lifestyles behind, a group of workers remains - unmotivated and unwilling to do more than what they are required to in their current jobs. They are indifferent to what is happening around them in their companies, believing that doing just their jobs is enough.
They are the ‘Quiet Quitters’.
The Great Resignation delivered a strong global message that employees are not willing to settle for being unhappy at work and will leave their jobs in search of greener pastures. While the Great Resignation is deafeningly clear in its intention, Quiet Quitting and its silent participants choose to protest in a rather passive manner. TikTok user zaidleppelin, whose post has helped the phrase ‘quiet quitting’ go viral, described quiet quitting as “not outright quitting your job, but quitting the idea of going above and beyond.”
Quiet quitting isn’t new. It may be hyped up in its newfound popularity, but quiet quitting has been happening for decades. Quite simply, it represents employee disengagement in the form of a silent protest. Quiet quitters exist amongst us in our offices: their poker faces reveal little about what’s going through their minds. They are unenthusiastic about company plans or upcoming projects, disengaged from work, and put in only the bare minimum in effort and hours. They don’t necessarily fall into the category of ‘slackers’ since they are still performing their duties; they just don’t go the extra mile. Effectively, they are pulling back boundaries to only cover what is required of their job descriptions. Anything more and their apathetic attitudes let out what they think about additional work.
The term ‘quiet quitters’ is a misnomer since quiet quitters don’t actually leave their jobs. They may have made a mental note to do so, but if their quiet-quitting strategy works, they are staying put in their roles, earning their keep, and getting on with their lives. They will not put in more effort than their salary is worth, and are certainly not going to answer work emails or Slack messages after work hours.
In Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace Report 2022, global employee engagement and well-being are currently stagnating, having been on the rise for almost a decade. 60% of the world’s workers are emotionally detached at work and 19% are miserable (actively disengaged). That’s rather telling of the state of mental and emotional connection that employees feel towards their work and organizations. On another dismaying note, low engagement alone is costing the global economy US$7.8 trillion. Now, that’s immediate cause for alarm.
Quiet quitting is a fresh can of worms that cannot be ignored. Its disengaged parties and their perceived silence are causing a ruckus at an extremely high cost.
The idea of rejecting “hustle culture” is resonating with most Gen Z workers who are looking to invest their time and energy outside of work. In Deloitte’s Global 2022 Gen Z & Millennial Survey, the study revealed a clear preference for better work/life balance and more flexible working amongst Gen Zs and millennials. 75% of them indicate that they would like to have the option to work remotely to spend more time with family and to do other things they care about.
Last year, the concept of ‘quiet quitting’ also swept through China as a new wave of younger workers rebel against the traditional mindset that a successful life depends on hard work. With many feeling underpaid and overworked amid the rising costs of living, this younger generation is choosing to lie flat and defy societal pressures to overwork. Tang ping or ‘lying flat’ involves doing as little as possible, living minimally without chasing material comforts, and deliberately choosing a slower lifestyle. This, of course, does not bode well with the Chinese government, which sees this phenomenon as a threat to the country’s social stability.
Elsewhere in the world, quiet quitting is also fast garnering supporters. The act of performing the bare minimum at work makes total sense as it creates healthy boundaries and allows employees to pursue activities outside of work. After all, when one does only what one is paid to do during stipulated work hours, then the employee is deemed to have fulfilled his basic employment requirement. To find fault with that will be unreasonable.
Perhaps the Great Resignation trend has empowered many to claim back their lives from work. Or that workers are now reflecting on the true value of life. Having survived a pandemic and suffering major burnout from overworking the past two years, employees are now making a conscious effort to carve out time for self-care. But, is quiet quitting merely creating healthy boundaries for better work/ life balance?
Or is it something more?
As quiet quitters passively defend their choice to step back from work in pursuit of work/life balance, employers and organizations need to recognize it as a silent cry for growth opportunities, recognition incentives, flexibility at work, mental health help, etc. Quiet quitters in the workplace are like festering tumor cells, benign unless companies take the initiative to address deeper issues such as burnout, fatigue, disengagement, inflexibility, or lack of growth opportunities. With looming worries of an economic slowdown, productivity (or a lack of it) is of utmost importance to the world’s economy.
While this wave of silent protest is causing the world to take notice, employees who engage in quiet quitting are silencing their own voices to be heard. This can prove counterproductive and harm careers in the long run. Choosing to keep silent and doing the bare minimum at work, while staying in a ‘loveless’ job does nothing for the soul. A nonchalant approach to work can rob individuals of the opportunity to create change in organizations. More importantly, it prevents them from actively seeking out jobs that will bestow meaning in their lives.
The real question at hand here is not whether quiet quitting is worth it. Rather, making work-life work is the secret sauce to more enjoyable work and therefore, a more fulfilling life.
Silence may not be golden after all.
You might be interested to know: Time To Leave A Sh**ty Workplace.
It’s about rethinking traditional employment archetypes. Can we progress from an economy built on full time employment habitually enslaved by unemployment fears, to one where individuals have greater autonomy and are self motivated to do work that inspires them? And as a result, benefit the economy as a whole?
You can’t own full time employees. But you can build a winning team with talent management companies. As businesses demand more, external talents are emerging as the sure forerunners of an agile workforce. At Chance Upon, we partner businesses to get a head start over competition by creating collaborative work between companies and the right talents.