Why Quiet Quitting Isn’t As Bad As It Sounds

Quiet quitting is really about putting yourself before your job.

By Charlene Badasie | Published

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Over the last several weeks, quiet quitting has taken the social media universe by storm. The phrase, which refers to people setting work-life balance boundaries by doing the bare minimum at work, gained popularity through TikTok. The video was uploaded by a 20-something engineer named Zaid Khan. With the sound of a piano playing a ragtime-style tune and summertime shots of New York City flashing across the screen, he narrates a 17-second clip that introduces millions to the idea.

“I recently learned about this term called quiet quitting, where you’re not outright quitting your job, but you’re quitting the idea of going above and beyond,” Khan tells viewers on the video sharing site. “You’re still performing your duties, but you’re no longer subscribing to the hustle culture mentality that work has to be your life. The reality is it’s not – and your worth as a person is not defined by your labor.” he continues. Since its upload date, the video has been watched over 3 million times.

But quiet quitting is not really about quitting. It’s more like a philosophy for putting yourself before your job. In Japan, there’s a concept known as “Shokunin.” It refers to an artisan who is deeply dedicated to their craft, always striving for perfection in what they make. The social media trend is essentially the opposite of that.

Quiet quitting is about separating your ego from what you do for a living and not striving for perfection. Setting boundaries and completing the tasks you’re supposed to complete within the time that you’re paid to do them – which isn’t a bad thing.

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According to NPR, most observers seem to agree that the recent enthusiasm for quiet quitting says something about our post-pandemic zeitgeist. With the labor market presenting people with multiple job options, and an ongoing battle being fought over the preservation and expansion of remote work, folks are simply reevaluating where and how they do their jobs. Speaking about the trend, Chief Economist at job-search website ZipRecruiter, Julia Pollak said with layoffs and firings at record lows people have unprecedented job security.

“The risk of termination is lower and that’s also why the incentive to work harder is reduced,” she told the publication. Additionally, the consequences of being found to shirk have become much smaller because companies can’t afford to fire people. There are so many alternatives out there if someone does lose their job. Speaking to BBC News, Associate Professor at the University of College London’s School of Management, Anthony Klotz, believes that quiet quitting is resonating because of the pandemic, and the increased conversations around mental health.

In many instances, people are quiet quitting to prevent burnout as the concept effectively redraws work boundaries to the job description. This means people aren’t thinking about work during their downtime. Instead, they’re dedicating that energy to more meaningful elements of their lives, leading to improved well-being. But employers can combat the trend by making employees feel valued, respected, and appreciated. Other effective tips include valuing staffers’ physical and mental health and encouraging these values throughout the workplace.