Quiet Quitting Is Good News for Employees

Quiet Quitting Is Good News for Employees

Become Wealth Editor

The complete guide to quiet quitting, including why it might be good news for those who remain motivated!

Quiet Quitting has taken the internet by a not-so-quiet storm. The phenomenon refers to doing the absolute bare minimum required of one’s job and putting in no extra effort or energy.

Harvard Business Review explains it as such, “quiet quitters continue to fulfil their primary responsibilities, but they’re less willing to engage in activities known as citizenship behaviours: no more staying late, showing up early, or attending non-mandatory meetings.” To be clear, there’s no single definition of the term quiet quitting. For some, it means setting boundaries and not taking on additional work; for others, it just means not going above and beyond. Most, however, agree it does not mean you’re leaving the job.

The term “quiet quitting” is just one of a recent number of terms which have entered the fray over recent years, as the “Great Resignation” took hold. Of course, “Boomerang employees” soon returned to companies they once quit when their new path didn’t work out.

Before we explore how you might quiet quit, the potential drawbacks, and the benefits in store for those that over-deliver instead of quiet quit, let’s take a closer look into quiet quitting.

Quiet Quitting: The Root Cause

Why people quiet quit is up for debate – but in reality, there is a myriad of reasons that one would become disenfranchised with their place of employment.

Burnout is the hottest contender – continued feelings of being overworked and undervalued will naturally result in a lack of motivation to go beyond the call of duty.

Quiet quitting as an act of radical anti-capitalism has been discussed, the Reddit thread called r/antiwork aligns quiet to quitting with simply doing the job you are paid to do and no more than that. A meme with 9.8k upvotes in the thread is captioned “I’ll just lower the quality of my work till my pay feels fair,” summed up the anti-work philosophy in a nutshell.

CEOs and business executives may see quiet quitting as a form of entitlement, failing to understand why people aren’t willing to work hard to further themselves for career advancement, personal and professional pride, increased remuneration, and so-on.

A Changing Employer-Employee Relationship

CEOs across the globe reportedly have a pit of anxiety in their stomach due to quiet quitting. For most companies, their competitive advantage lies in the willingness of their staff to go above and beyond. A workforce that over-performs creates great profit margins, satisfying clients who realistically receive less pay than the actual hours spent on their job, as well as board members and shareholders who see a greater return for their buck.

As workplace consultant Erica Dhawan has said “a lot of leaders and clients I work with, some for the first time in 30 years, they’re in a state of fear as an employer.”

The Great Resignation (an economic trend backed up by statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) saw 71.6 million people leave their jobs between April 2021 and April 2022 across the United States. New Zealand data is harder to identify, though on a size-adjusted basis the data is likely to be similar. The Great Resignation has been thought of as the catalyst for quiet quitting, yet whatever the correlation, global demand for talent and the reality of many workers embracing the quiet quitting phenomena has really shaken the C-Suite.

Could Quiet Quitting Be Right for You?

So, for those interested in the reality of quiet quitting– here is a how-to guide.

(For those who aren’t interested, keep reading below this section to see the counter-argument!)

How to Quiet Quit

Set and Practice Boundaries – Firm Ones

Draw the line as to where your capacity is. Prioritize what needs to be done and what can wait until tomorrow. Learn to be firm in adhering to your boundaries and don’t feel the need to apologise when you don’t have the time to take on extra work. Be firm.

Be Efficient – Ditch the Pointless Meetings

Being efficient is the key to time-saving. Figuring out what productivity hacks suit you will enable you to work with less stress. Cutting out pointless meetings is a great place to start. Bloomberg reports that 100 million dollars a year are wasted on “useless meetings” by companies each year, so don’t feel guilty for declining that meeting.

See Yourself as More Than Your Profession

Our work gives us all meaning and a sense of purpose to a large degree, yet there is a danger in letting our individual identity become too wrapped up in our work. Harvard Business Review identifies that many successful people find themselves unhappy with their careers, despite the blood sweat and tears they have put in to get there. As the author, Janna Koretz writes, “Hating your job is one thing — but what happens if you identify so closely with your work that hating your job means hating yourself?”

Becoming married to your work will never make you satisfied. In your quest to quiet quit, make a conscientious effort to spend quality time with your family and friends, and to do activities or hobbies that make you smile. Take that jewellery course you’ve been dreaming of or sign up to do that weekend trek.

See Yourself as More Than Your Profession

If you know that your job doesn’t fulfil you on a deep level and you see it more as a means to an end – treat it that way. Learn to switch your slack and email notifications off in the evenings and weekends, if it’s truly urgent, someone will call you (and unless you are a health professional or a defence lawyer), the chances are things can wait.

Reclaim your time – use it to figure out what your next step is, or for the activities that you actually care about and get deep fulfilment from.

But Hold On, Should You Really Quiet Quit?

Not so fast – before you implement the steps above and quiet quit, perhaps you should fully think this through. Here’s why…

1. Mediocrity Has Always Been Punished

A mediocre approach to anything is usually unwise. Mediocrity is nearly always punished in one form or another, in this case, consider: many companies, especially big corporates are already implementing several steps in response to rising minimum wages, a challenging economy, and what executives may perceive as an entitled workforce.

More jobs are being automated: either performed by sophisticated robots, or by software systems such as machine learning.

Other jobs are being outsourced: either to contractors who are commonly paid based on results, not time, or to employees in offshore jurisdictions such as India, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Mexico, Malaysia, and so-on. In many of these offshore localities, possible employees have great language skills, and are keen to work hard – they’re grateful for the opportunity to have solid employment.

With globalisation and technological advances, the world is becoming more competitive, not less. Keeping in mind the current economic climate, if redundancies are required at any workplace, it’s likely the “quiet quitters” or mediocre performers will be the first to be laid off! In this case, quiet quitting is likely to totally backfire. At minimum, quiet quitters will be unlikely to be considered for promotion or advancement.

Learn more: 10 jobs that robots will replace

2. Mediocrity Could Flow Through to Other Areas of Your Life

“How a person does one thing is how they do everything”

It’s hard to take a barely adequate attitude in one significant area of life and not have that translate to the same adequate approach being taken elsewhere.

Taking a lackadaisical approach to work may seem enticing, though being ‘just adequate’ at something for eight hours a day will surely flow through to being mediocre in other areas of life too: relationships, pastimes, sports, family, finances, and so forth.

Do you really want a mediocre life?

3. Your Name

Even if you’re considering leaving your current workplace, are trying to get a side-hustle off the ground, are focussed on studying in your own time, or have some other perceived-genuine reason for quiet quitting, your reputation is likely to suffer.

• Would anybody like an All Black who delivered the minimum? Who only did what he was paid to do and no more? How long would that All Black remain an All Black? Would that All Black attract sponsors? Even if the player was already wanting to move offshore to a new club team, potential new employers would take notice about the apathetic approach.

• What if your favourite restaurant or social venue suddenly started delivering the bare minimum every time you went? Would you still enjoy it? Would you still tell your friends about it?

• What about if you went to a concert to see an artist or a band you idolise, but they delivered a barely adequate performance?

• Would you appreciate it if your heart surgeon told you before surgery “I’m doing the bare minimum I’m paid for here, no more”? What about your lawyer or accountant? Your hairdresser or barber? Your GP? The pilot the next time you take a flight? The list goes on!

Especially in a small country like New Zealand, your name or reputation is a great asset, and the last thing you want is word getting around in your industry or circles that you take a bare-minimum approach to any task. Instead, we all surely want to be regarded as a good person who is making a positive contribution to society-at-large.

Furthermore, quiet quitting can lead to conflicts between employees, as some will feel the quiet quitters aren’t pulling their weight.

4. Missed Opportunities

Trying your best in any area is admirable. It’s impossible to know what opportunities may come your way when you persist and try your best, day in, day out.

It could even be from a totally unexpected angle: maybe you’re working for one company and really impress a client or customer of that business, who offers you a whole new career path or opportunity in an area you’d previously only dreamed of?

5. Help Put a Man on the Moon

Back in 1962, President John F. Kennedy visited NASA for the first time. During his tour of the facility, he passed a janitor in the hallway. The President casually asked the janitor what he did for NASA, and the man replied:

“I’m helping put a man on the moon.”

Work is a huge part of most people’s lives. Many (maybe most?) people actually enjoy contributing to their work culture outside of the basic deliverables. Its deeply ingrained in our mind as human beings to form groups to collectively achieve things – that’s how our ancient ancestors survived in a wild and inhospitable world. Nowadays, most of us want to be proud of the outcomes we deliver and the contributions we make, just like the janitor at NASA. We want to see our impact and feel good about it. Quiet quitting doesn’t allow for that.

The Bottom Line: Quiet Quitting

“People that go beyond to try to solve problems for the organisation, their teams, their managers, their bosses, those are the ones that succeed in life,” Kevin O’Leary

There’s a difference between seeking better work-life balance and being totally disengaged. If you’re feeling the need for more balance, most employers would entertain a reasonable and fair conversation on the topic. Likewise, there’s probably a host of ways to be more efficient with your current worktime (like reducing pointless meetings!) that will benefit everyone by maximising your productivity and won’t require you to make a lacklustre effort.

Ironically, if a segment of employees in any workplace do elect to quiet quit, that could be great news for everyone else in that same workplace who remains motivated to further themselves, their income, and their ability to support their loved ones! This is because the workplace opportunities and advancement will of course go to those who are delivering above and beyond, not those quiet quitters who deliver only the minimum.

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