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The Origins of "Quiet Quitting":

In 2022, career coach Brian Creely coined the term "quiet quitting," which is a passive act of rebellion against one's working environment — it essentially describes an employee that completes their normal workload but never goes above and beyond in their role.

Creely also described the trend as a counteract to the idea of "hustle culture," which many young employees feel pressured to pursue. This term refers to workers who prioritize their job and career success over any personal development.

In addition, Creely mentioned that quiet quitting was inspired by The Great Resignation of 2021 when U.S. employees resigned from their jobs en masse in wake of the global pandemic.

During this time, many employees faced unfair working conditions and role redundancy, which sparked a wave of introspection and ultimately the decision to prioritize health and wellness over professional success.

During the height of quiet quitting's popularity, a similar term originated in China — akin to the idea of tang ping, or "lying flat," young employees across the country declined to take on any more responsibilities than outlined in their job description and rejected the notion of climbing the corporate ladder.

Internationally, the trend has been reported to affect over 59% of the workforce in 2023.

"Quiet Quitting" and the "#lazygirljob" Trend:

Quiet quitting shares similarities with the 2023 term "#lazygirljob," created by TikToker Gabrielle Judge. The idea describes an employee who performs an easy, nontechnical, white-collar job with minimal effort in a typically remote and safe working environment.

Both these terms are geared toward workers in search of a better work-life balance accompanied by fair compensation and strong boundaries.

It seems the only significant difference between the terms is that "#lazygirljob" primarily refers to Gen Z employees that are new to the workforce, while quiet quitting, on the other hand, is more popular among workers that have been employed for a longer period of time and are in need of a change from their established corporate careers.

Neither trend necessarily encourages laziness, but quiet quitting serves to act as a viable option for employees uninterested in resigning from their positions but wanting to slow down their pace of work and reach a more equitable work-life balance.

Why do Employees Partake in Quiet Quitting?

With the shifting mindset around mental health in the workplace, quiet quitting may be prevalent with employees who are dissatisfied with their working conditions, whether it be an unfair workload, inadequate compensation, or "toxic" coworkers. The feeling of demotivation, burnout, or stress may also contribute to workers embracing the trend.

Quiet quitting is more common among employees seeking to balance their personal and professional development more equitably. A businessperson who once climbed the corporate ladder can use the principles of quiet quitting to slow down and focus more on their home life and/or personal growth.

While the trend has been lauded as a revolutionary act among the local and international workforce, it has also garnered criticism from companies and business leaders opposed to the idea.

Some believe that employees who feel mistreated or unhappy in their jobs should approach leadership with their concerns rather than stay passive. Others have noted that quiet quitting is not the solution to experiencing poor working conditions — employees should rather put their time and effort into searching for a new position that meets their unique requirements.

Another criticism is that quiet quitting is a trend only available to the privileged. Employees from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds and minimum wage workers cannot put in minimal effort during their work hours, since their job is based more on survival and they are more easily replaced if they do not "pull their weight."

While quiet quitting may not benefit all employees, it is important to note that wanting to be part of a more equitable and well-compensated workforce is not a passing trend, as all workers are entitled to a livable wage and safe working environments.

Signs of Quiet Quitting:

An employee who takes part in quiet quitting may show the following signs:

  • They are continuously disengaged at work and perform their duties with little to no enthusiasm.
  • There is a chronic decline in the employee's work quality.
  • They show an indifference to progress tracking and are uninterested in professional development and/or goal setting.
  • There is an uptick in the employee's absenteeism with little to no explanation.
  • They stop interacting with coworkers socially and may choose not to attend team-building exercises or in-office gatherings.
  • They may be submitting more complaints to HR pertaining to poor working conditions and inadequate compensation.

How to Respond to Quiet Quitting in the Workplace:

It is easy for managers and senior leadership to not notice the patterns of quiet quitting until employees are mentally checked out and not performing their job duties adequately.

If you see an uptick in quiet quitting among team members, it may be time to reevaluate your company's work culture and get a better grasp of your employees' needs and expectations. Here are some suggestions to solve the disengagement of quiet quitting:

1. Speak honestly and openly with your employees.

Having an honest conversation with your workforce about quiet quitting may be an effective way of gauging their thoughts on the matter and letting them air any issues or problems they might be experiencing with their workload, compensation, or working conditions.

Rather than focus the discussion on punishment or repercussions, reassure employees that you want to better understand their needs to create a more equitable and comfortable work environment for all. Working together to find a solution will ensure your employees know their voices are being heard and there is room for both worker and management growth.

2. Come to a compromise.

If your employees are dissatisfied with something that is beyond the leadership team's control, such as ultra-flexi working hours or an above-average compensation package, it may be helpful to suggest alternatives or agree to at least some of your team member’s terms. This approach will engage your employees, rather than dishearten them with a phrase like "there is nothing we can do."

3. Keep to your promises.

One of the main reasons quiet quitting can persist after discussions is if the leadership team does not follow through on their promised terms or course corrections. It's important to realize that both management and employees must act in good faith while steps are being taken to rectify any concerns around workload, compensation, or work environments.

4. Create a people-first work culture.

Companies with a people-first work culture tend to attract employees who are more engaged and interested in growing with the business since most of their working needs can or will be met. By investing in the professional development of your employees, you'll create a more productive and efficient workforce built on trust, transparency, and authenticity.

Restoring your employees’ faith and work ethic will not happen overnight and it may take several more steps to come to a mutually-beneficial agreement. However, this solution may be more effective long-term than simply dismissing or even offboarding employees who show signs of quiet quitting.

1. Quiet firing.

"Quiet firing" is a 2022 trend that describes management who choose to push out their employees by treating them poorly or changing their work responsibilities, instead of directly firing them. Employees are given a more difficult workload and are overlooked for promotions, and they aren't given any opportunities for professional development.

2. Quiet hiring.

"Quiet hiring" refers to an organization that addresses certain company needs by assigning existing employees new roles, rather than hiring additional staff to pick up the workload. Businesses can leverage their current workforce's capabilities to acquire new skills without going through the entire recruitment process.

3. Quiet thriving.

A more recent trend that popped up on TikTok, "quiet thriving" describes an employee who tries to find joy in their work environment rather than complain or criticize their workload.

It has become popular among employees looking to take control of their work situation and build resilience against any work-related issues that may arise, such as high-pressure deadlines or unfriendly coworkers.

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What does the term quiet quitting mean?

The term "quiet quitting" refers to an employee who completes their normal workload but never goes above and beyond in their role. It also describes employees who choose not to pursue professional development opportunities and are generally dissatisfied with their working environment.

Why do employees do quiet quitting?

There are several reasons employees may choose to quiet quit their jobs — they may be unhappy in their role but unwilling to search for a new position, and they may feel they are being subjected to unfair working conditions or inadequate compensation.

What is the root cause of quiet quitting?

The root cause of quiet quitting differs from employee to employee, but it stems from a general dissatisfaction with their particular workload, compensation, or working conditions.

What are some quiet quitting examples?

Employees may quiet quit by performing the minimal requirements of their job and not taking on additional work. They may also stop taking initiative within their role and employers may see a downtick in their productivity. Employees who quiet quit can also distance themselves from their colleagues and choose not to interact on either a corporate or social level.

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