Envision a workplace environment where fulfilling your job responsibilities is deemed sufficient. No longer would there be a need to exceed expectations or strive to make a lasting impression on your superiors.
With the significant transformation of the work landscape during the pandemic, there has been a noticeable shift in workplace culture that has given rise to a prevailing concept gaining traction on social media: “quiet quitting.”
The Rise of “Quiet Quitting”: Understanding the Phenomenon
Contrary to its misleading name, “quiet quitting” does not involve leaving your job altogether. Instead, it entails adhering strictly to the responsibilities outlined in your job description and refraining from any additional efforts. Gone are the days of going the extra mile or extending help beyond your designated tasks. “Quiet quitting” means limiting your involvement to the confines of your work hours, eliminating any voluntary engagement such as assisting with extra assignments or responding to emails outside of your designated work time.
In the wake of the pandemic, a growing cohort of young professionals has grown weary of the lack of acknowledgment and fair compensation for their extended work hours. Rejecting burnout culture, they are prioritizing work-life balance and advocating for self-preservation. This movement revolves around the concept of “acting your wage,” emphasizing the importance of valuing one’s own well-being and setting boundaries in the workplace. Young workers are asserting their right to a fulfilling personal life alongside their professional endeavors, fostering a shift towards a more sustainable and balanced approach to work.
The concept of “quiet quitting” has gained significant traction in recent times, thanks in part to the viral TikTok video , in which emphasized the importance of work-life balance by stating, “work is not your life.” Interestingly, the roots of this movement can be traced back to China, where the hashtag #tangping, meaning “lie flat,” emerged as a form of protest against the prevalent culture of long working hours. Although the hashtag has since been censored, its influence has sparked conversations about challenging the notion of overwork and advocating for a more balanced approach to life and work.
Reclaiming Personal Empowerment: Taking Control of My Life
Georgia Gadsby March, a 24-year-old from Devon, found herself in a marketing position at a retail and homeware company where she consistently put in extra hours without receiving any recognition or compensation. As she transitioned into an administrative support role, her workload and responsibilities continued to grow, resulting in her working close to 60 hours per week.
Seeking fair compensation for the additional responsibilities she took on, Georgia approached her managers with her concerns. However, despite being promised a pay raise, it never materialized, leaving her feeling humiliated and let down. Given the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic, Georgia opted for the strategy of “quiet quitting” rather than searching for a new job, as it felt more secure during such a turbulent time.
Georgia made the decision to decline tasks that were beyond her job description, even though she faced criticism and accusations of slacking as a result. However, she remained unfazed by the judgment.
“It felt like I was reclaiming my power,” she reflects.
Eventually, Georgia reached a point where she decided to leave her job altogether.
Reaching a Breaking Point: Denied a Pay Rise
Emma O’Brien, 31, from London reached her breaking point and decided to quiet quit her job as a personal assistant in the retail sector. The final straw came when she was denied a pay rise despite shouldering increased workload and taking care of the entire team during the challenges of the pandemic.
Emma persisted in pursuing a pay rise from her boss for a couple of weeks, but when the conversation finally happened and he turned her down, it was the final blow.
“That was the breaking point for me,” says Emma.
From that moment on, she made a deliberate choice to focus solely on fulfilling her job responsibilities and nothing more.
“I felt a sense of empowerment and motivation because mentally I had already disengaged from that job a few weeks earlier.”
Emma made the decision to quietly quit her job and took a year-long break before recently deciding to move on to new opportunities.
Is “Quiet Quitting” a Beneficial Approach?
Not everyone embraces the concept of “quiet quitting”. Pattie Ehsaei, an expert in workplace etiquette, shared her disapproval of the trend, emphasizing that such a mindset is unlikely to lead to success in the workplace.
According to Pattie Ehsaei, who spoke to the BBC, “quiet quitting” is essentially settling for mediocrity by only doing the bare minimum required at work. She believes that individuals who put in minimal effort will not be considered for promotions or salary increases, as those rewards are typically reserved for those who demonstrate a higher level of dedication and performance.
Joanne Mallon, a career coach and podcast host, acknowledges that many of her clients have already adopted the “quiet quitting” approach by the time they seek her coaching services. While she doesn’t actively encourage “quiet quitting”, she believes it is important to understand the reasons behind their decision. Instead of dismissing their choice, Mallon engages in conversations with her clients to explore their motivations for choosing this path.
According to Joanne Mallon, it is not uncommon for individuals to experience moments of “quiet quitting” in their lives. However, she suggests that it can serve as a signal that it may be time to consider moving on and finding a new physical space, as Georgia and Emma eventually did.