For those of us not on TikTok or who’ve spotted the term ‘quiet quitting’ doing the rounds but don’t really know what it means, let me break it down. The term is defined by a generation of workers who complete what’s on the job spec, in their contracted hours, and no more. And it’s going viral.
Quick recap for anyone who missed it. New York musician Zaid posted a video on TikTok in the summer calling the strategy “quiet quitting.”
“You’re still performing your duties but no longer subscribing to the hustle mentality that work has to be your life. The reality is your worth as a person is not defined by your labour,” he explained over a seven-second clip which has now been viewed over 3.5 million times.
Personally, I come from an era where leaving the office at 6pm incurred comments like, “thanks for popping in”. There were expectations to always “be on”, and answering your Blackberry in the middle of the night said you were enthusiastic, not overworked.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a healthy mindset, and fortunately it’s one we’re moving away from. But I am beginning to wonder whether the pendulum is swinging too far in the opposite direction.
Of course, since then the working environment has expanded. We now have more generations under one office roof than ever before, and with that comes - at times - conflicting values and beliefs.
I live by a simple, but powerful motto: it isn’t about the end destination, it’s about the journey. To me, quiet quitting feels like a bad journey.
1. If you’re good at your job and go the extra mile, you’ll be indispensable
Colleagues will enjoy working with you, managers will value you, and the leadership team will see you as a key player in the business. Losing you and all you have to offer doesn’t look good, and could drive your colleagues to a competitor too. This means it’s much more likely that any thoughts or concerns you express will be listened to - and acted on.
2. You’ll be much more ‘referenceable’
Gaining an excellent reference is a significant consideration for anyone, but for younger professionals climbing the career ladder, it’s make or break. Presenting the very best version of yourself and your capabilities means that your manager and leadership team will have no hesitation in providing a great reference. Plus, it gives you more fodder for future interviews.
3. Quiet quitting plateaus your learning - and potentially your career
The first years of your career are abundant in learning new skills, perfecting monotony (so it takes far less time in the future), developing your understanding, expanding your network - need I go on? Quiet quitting puts this all at risk.
Instead, committing to the groundwork now will mean climbing the ranks faster, and more simply. Take every opportunity you can, learn from those around you, and invest more in yourself than just the paycheque you receive at the end of the month.
Ask yourself this: are you quiet quitting to prolong the inevitable?
So, when all is said and done, how do you fix the issues that are driving you to quiet quit in the first place?
Author and speaker, Annie Duke’s new book, Quit, draws stories from athletes, Everest mountain climbers and musicians about when to persist and when to move on - something we can all learn from.
Ask yourself this: are you quiet quitting to prolong the inevitable? Or is there something you hope can be rectified?
Speak up or walk out?
Think about quiet quitting like pulling away in a relationship. You want to end it with the person you’re with, but you can’t muster the courage to do it. So what do you do? Drag it out. Forget to return calls and texts, avoid making plans, be short and snappy in conversations - and secretly hope they’ll get there first.
Well, that’s what you’re doing to your employer right now.
There’s a difference between working overtime for a few weeks to get a project back on track, or when a team is short-staffed, and being overworked consistently, with no recognition or end in sight. One could lead to a bonus, promotion, or greater learnings, while the other could lead to burnout and bitterness.
Identifying the difference is at the core of this debate.
If you find yourself quiet quitting because you’re unhappy with your remuneration, your workload, or your hours, that tells you to initiate an honest conversation with your manager and ask that these issues be addressed and resolved. You can find tips on exactly how to ask for a pay rise here.
If you find yourself quiet quitting because no action has been taken after these conversations, or you’re reluctant to have them in the first place, that tells you it’s time to move on. The talent market is strong, and you have the freedom to find a business and a team which values your worth.
One final word
Employers will sense quiet quitting, however subtle you may think you’re being. It could result in an increased workload to compensate if they believe you don’t have enough on, or being micro-managed. It could even result in conflict that will see you lose your job with a bad reference.
This isn’t an argument in favour of these measures, but it is an argument in favour of realism. Quiet quitting could take a lot away from your career. So even if you feel it’s about boundaries, it could be time to think again.