Towards the middle of last year, the term ‘quiet quitting’ started floating around the internet, and quickly went viral on TikTok – sparking thousands of videos. It soon got picked up in the mainstream media, with coverage on the BBC and the Guardian discussing this ‘new’ trend, culminating in being nominated as one of Collins dictionary’s words of the year.
So, what is it?
Quiet quitting, despite its title, does not mean quitting or leaving a job at all. Instead, it means you continue to perform your job but only do the absolute minimum. You give just enough to meet the required standards, but do not do anything that is outside of your remit, take on extra duties, work extra hours or give any more effort or enthusiasm than is necessary.
It’s been described as an act of mutiny or rebellion and can be a result of a negative relationship with the employer, burnout or anticipated burnout or simply a desire to no longer subscribe to the notion that how successful you are at work is an indicator of being successful at life.
As this trending terms fades into the background, it begs the questions – was it ever a ‘new’ concept? And just because the internet isn’t talking about anymore, is it still happening?
Is it a new concept?
Quite simply, no.
For as long as the employer / employee relationship has existed, there’s been unhappy employees.
What is new (or, certainly newer) is having a social media platform to divulge these things in a public forum. It’s bringing together disgruntled workers with nothing else in common, other than a shared feeling of disengagement with work.
Is it still happening?
Of course, for businesses a happy, productive workforce with 100% employee engagement is the ultimate goal.
But for the vast majority, that’s simply unrealistic. Chances are, at any one time there’s always going to be disengaged employees amongst your workforce.
If they’re unhappy, then why don’t they just leave?
Employees who decide to take the quiet quitting approach can do so for many different reasons.
Those who are disengaged out of contempt for their job or employer are more likely to end up actually leaving eventually and may just be biding their time; waiting for the right time or opportunity to jump ship.
Then there are those employees who simply don’t want to be engaged. They perhaps don’t view work as a priority in their life, and to them, quiet quitting, is just the normal - you go to work, do a job and come home.
Whatever your take on this particular trend, what is interesting is the conversations it opens up towards people’s changing attitudes to work.