“Quiet quitting” is quite the term de rigueur as of late. Employees are posting about it via TikTok, using it as a battle cry that legitimizes feelings of being overworked and underpaid. Employers and managers are scoffing at the absurdity of quiet quitting, labeling it as the passive-aggressive avoidance of adult conversations that should be had in the workplace. Still others are confused about what it even means and why one term could be so polarizing. Lucky you, we’re here to explain.
Quiet quitting started as a trending video on TikTok. Before you dismiss it just for that (believe us, we get it!), this is nothing like the Tide Pod Challenge or Mannequin Challenge. In fact, some experts suggest that quiet quitting is a mindset shift that can prevent burnout and give employees their lives back.
On quiet quitting #workreform
Some of the confusion and distaste for the term “quiet quitting” stems from the fact that it is widely considered a misnomer. Quiet quitting isn’t about quitting at all; in fact, the employee keeps their job and continues to perform all of their required duties–a simple exchange of time for money, which has been the basis of our capitalist economy since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Where that exchange has become less simple in recent years is with the expectation that every employee needs to go “above and beyond” their duties, often by responding to emails after regular working hours, not using their vacation days, and accepting responsibility for tasks far outside their job description–all without a proportionate raise in pay.
American culture in particular has touted the “work hard, play hard” mentality when it comes to work-life balance. Indeed, we have started to define ourselves based on our job titles, industries, and income levels. In some other countries, when meeting someone for the first time, it is unthinkable to ask what they do for a living–instead people discuss hobbies, politics, family, and common interests.
The era of COVID-19 has redefined many aspects of our lives, and quiet quitting is just the most recent culmination of these realizations. The workforce en masse is deciding to reject burnout, set reasonable boundaries, and take back their power as individuals. In a recent interview in The Atlantic, burnout expert Amelia Nagoski summarizes, “Quiet quitting comes from the perspective of folks who have been selling not just their time, but their selves to their employer. So their experience feels like quitting. In that context, the term makes a lot of sense and is helpful.”