Quiet Quitting: A New Workplace Cultural Phenomenon

Quiet quitting is a trend that has been prevalent on social media. In July, Zaid Khan, an engineer from New York, posted about quitting quietly, and his video went viral. But why did it go viral? Did his actions resonate with the rest of the work culture? Why did his actions spread so rapidly among the workers?

Despite what it may sound like, quiet quitting is not a terminology that relates to quitting or even slacking. It simply means that a worker will perform no more than what their job requires from them. With this trend of quiet quitting, workers refuse to go the extra mile, work late hours, or answer emails after their shifts.

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The Way of Work is Changing

These new terminologies are emerging as a huge phenomenon shaping today's workplace culture. Many people describe quiet quitting as phase two of the great resignation. In hindsight, it is essentially the act of showing up to work and completing the bare minimum so you can get by and get paid at the end of the month.

There are two main reasons why people quit. The first would be to use quiet quitting as a form of protest. In many examples, people quietly quit because they felt their job treated them unfairly. For example, they put all their time and effort into a company and did not get the recognition they deserved.

They felt like the work had wronged them and had no positive outcomes. Suppose a company does not recognize the employees and their hard work and lacks monetary and cultural incentives. In that case, today's workers will no longer be invested in the company.

Another reason why workers are quitting is because of burnout. Workers who have a very ad work-life balance and are tired of working extra time are taking a stand in the form of quiet quitting. Therefore, many workers that have come close to a boiling point are using quiet quitting as a form of self-preservation so that they can recover.

Why are People Quietly Quitting?

Quiet quitting is not a new phenomenon, and it has always existed. However, it is fairly new for the media to highlight it, and there has never been a term that workers could associate with it. Due to some recent occurrences, quiet quitting is becoming more prevalent.

People have focused largely on hustle culture for a good chunk of the time. This culture pertains to working hard and achieving your dreams by giving your work all you have. People are starting to realize that while the hustle culture can help you achieve your goals, it also creates an unhealthy work environment at the same time.

It has become so predominant that people tend to look down upon people who are not over productive. This culture is reaching its extreme limit where people have worked more than their mental capacity requires them to. This quiet quitting culture has become an antidote to the hustle and productivity culture people have long suffered from.

Another reason why this culture became popular is due to the Pandemic. People realized that working from home is more favorable to them than commuting to work every day. Since people got the space and time during the Pandemic to reflect, they realized the importance of work-life balance. You do not get the time to reflect on your long-term goals and health when you are constantly working.

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Quiet Quitting – A Global View

Quiet quitting is not only limited to the west. People all around the world are rejecting the hustle culture. In China, the movement of quiet quitting began long before it was popularized. People's attitude toward their job is changing, and their strict lockdown policies have impacted their economy.

This has increased the pressure on young people to outperform their peers, leading to mass burnout. In China, the quiet quitting movement came forth as a "lying flat" movement. This work culture is an example of a mass counter-culture that rejects the traditional counter-culture. According to a report, burnout is at an all-time high in the US. About 44% of workers reported suffering from physical fatigue.

Fatigue is also a key contributing factor to the great resignation, an economic phenomenon that leads to mass quitting. The world's other major economies have also indulged in the growing discussions and dangers of working long hours. For instance, Japan's notorious culture of overworking has cost the country an increase in suicide rates.

Due to massive campaigns, the government introduced a reform bill that encouraged companies to change their work culture. Employees were obligated to take holidays, and the government introduced a hotline catered to stressed workers. The quiet quitting trend has been far less of an issue in Europe, where working cultures follow a different route, with shorter working hours.

Solutions to Countering the Quiet Quitting Culture

A company needs to take special measures to counter the quiet quitting culture. There are some moments at work when the workers feel happy and passionate, while there are other times when they feel low and not happy to work.

It is not easy to identify people who will turn to quiet quitting; each individual will have ebbs and flows. Companies should expect individuals to show this behavior and anticipate cultural shifts when hiring young employees.

To counter quitting problems, companies must improve their working conditions and provide workers with a likable work environment. They need to introduce a culture that prioritizes work-life balance and revolves around effective communication.

The legitimate tell-tale signs that an employee is quiet quitting will be evident in behaviors. For example, employees may not respond to office communication regarding work outside their responsibility. Workers may also refuse to indulge in additional projects and tasks to fulfill their primary responsibilities.

This quiet quitting culture becomes prevalent in a workplace if the environment undervalues them and does not recognize their efforts. For this reason, companies need to ensure that they allow workers to carry out their tasks flexibly. Businesses will also benefit from creating an office environment where the workers can unwind and relax between their busy work schedules.

Managers and decision-makers must also be careful when allotting responsibilities and tasks to each employee, ensuring that the workflow is equally distributed and not burdening certain workers. Employers need to show emotional investment in their employees' state of mind.

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Disengagement is a major cause of quiet quitting, and if companies can introduce policies that work towards eradicating disengagement, quiet quitting can significantly stop. One-to-one conversations with managers and employees can allow decision-makers to determine whether an employee is satisfied.

By obligating meetings and communications, employers provide more opportunities for workers to voice their concerns before they start quietly quitting. Suppose the workers are showing disengagement, and employers don't allow them to get involved. In that case, it will eventually lead to a quiet quitting culture where the employees will hardly do the bare minimum.

If one employee quietly starts to quit and shows a lack of motivation, it will begin to rub off on other employees and cause them to quit. However, the cultural shift control will be at the hands of the line managers, and they will have to show care and support.

It would be best if you implemented strategies around care and employee connection. The Pandemic caused deep psychological and sociological impacts on the work culture, which is why companies need to deploy professionals catering to workers' mental health and well-being.

There are differences in working models and cultures around the world. So companies can also look towards changing their current model and shifting to one that encourages flexible working hours. In their current work, workers need to build firm boundaries within their work-life balance, which may cause them to quit quietly.

Final Words

Overall, there are two sides to the quiet quitting phenomenon in the workforce. One perspective justifies this action and encourages it, while the other perceives it as a lack of motivation from the worker. Creating a work environment that keeps workers engaged and satisfied will lead to a more productive workforce. Simply put, managers must provide their workers with multiple reasons not to quit quietly.


By: Brandi Marcene

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