"Quiet quitting" took the internet and workplaces by storm earlier this year, but what does it mean exactly? And was it as negative as it sounded?
In a country where capitalism has gone almost entirely rogue, many might struggle with the concept of not putting their best foot forward at work. Americans have been so conditioned to work without rest, low wages, and decent work benefits that the idea of not centering work in their lives may seem oddly foreign. Enter “quiet quitting,” the workplace trend many professionals are now embracing in lieu of letting work control their entire lives.
“Quiet quitting” is based on the concept of not necessarily actually quitting your job, but instead toning down the importance of it in your life by simply not working as hard while clocked in. Many people explain that they used to burn themselves out in favor of producing their very best results at work, and often went unpaid for their extra efforts. Now many of those same workers are shifting instead to a more relaxed approach of practicing the bare minimum required to get their jobs done.
They are bidding adieu to late nights, answering emails outside of work hours, and stressing about work. Their quiet quitting has allowed them to reclaim their lives outside of work, bringing them more balance overall.
The term itself is new, but as with every new workforce term (“The Great Resignation” is another popular one) comes the question of where it came from and what inspired it. “Quiet quitting” is making it acceptable for workers to essentially unclench the tight hold their jobs have on them, but it’s also just putting a cute name to the concept of enforcing boundaries with employers who take advantage of their workers.
\u201cThey tried so hard with putting a name to Quiet Quitting \ud83e\udd23. The very concept of people setting boundaries and not putting up with wage theft anymore is SO terrifying to the American employer that they had to put a marketing team behind it.\u201d— Jon Kung (@Jon Kung) 1661165577
While it’s important (and often within legal requirements) to set healthy work boundaries, it’s noteworthy that many of these workplace trends are coming as a result of abusive employer practices. Many workers have encountered bosses looking to continuously expand their duties without any kind of compensation or salary increase, and inflexibility and a lack of upward mobility that has inspired the “great resignation” that has now been rebranded as “the great re-shuffle.” As quiet quitting explains, instead of quitting their jobs, many are simply deprioritizing their jobs entirely.
The term is cute, but what “quiet quitting” signifies is that employers have always benefitted from exploiting their employees as much as they can, and this new approach is sure to hit them where it hurts. With star performers lowering their output, the cultural shift of placing less importance on your job and more on yourself is sure to be felt. So while “quiet quitting” defines that approach, what it really means without the negative connotation mass media is ascribing to it is that it’s possible to have a great career with fair compensation, and anything less doesn’t deserve your best.
Whatever the path that workers continue to take, one thing’s for sure - this generation of workers isn’t here to play.