Quiet quitting is okay only if it is not prolonged
Quiet quitting has its benefits, but only for so long.
I was on my nightly TikTok scroll when I first chanced upon the term “quiet quitting”.
“Just another Gen Z trend” was my first thought. I was expecting it to disappear in two weeks, to be replaced by another viral trend.
But it continued to stay. Not just on my For You Page but also on my friends’ too. Soon I found myself jumping down the rabbithole – what began as a nightly scroll to learn about quiet quitting evolved into my daily read.
It genuinely surprised me how quiet quitting did not involve, well, quitting. It was about choosing not to “hustle” – a term used synonymously with putting in hard work – but still showing up (whether physically or virtually) and clocking in the hours.
This term first gained traction by the user @zaidleppelin on TikTok. He described quiet quitting as “quitting the idea of going above and beyond” and no longer subscribing to the “hustle culture mentality that work has to be your life”.
Discourse surrounding the topic often falls into two camps: There is nothing wrong with just doing what is required of you, and it is a poor excuse to slack off or not do anything productive at work.
It also brings into question the topic of workplace boundaries. While these boundaries may vary depending on the workplace, it retains a few common grounds such as having weekends or after-work hours untouched, pay that matches the workload and having one’s mental health accounted for.
Why do people quiet quit?
A quick look at the comments point towards feeling burnt out from work or not being paid enough for the current workload.
These are not new sentiments. A youth I spoke to also shared similar concerns.
A 26-year-old who works in the aviation industry, Zach shared that he chose to quiet quit because he fears his efforts might not be well received or that he would land in trouble because of his mistakes.
“I don’t want to go the extra mile and then they (his superiors) come back to me, saying ‘Eh, how come you do this? This is not part of the SOP’ or ‘This is wrong’.
“My pay grade is not worth the extra mile,” said Zach, who previously worked in the customer service and food sciences industries.
He also recalled how he got scolded in his previous food science job and has quiet quit because of that. Though if you find yourself doing the same, it may not necessarily be due to the quiet quitting trend.
While the term quiet quitting may have only gone viral recently, the act of doing so is not new. Some might refer to this act as “coasting” or “going through the motions”.
Who can afford to ‘quiet quit’?
While there is nothing wrong with just doing your job, quiet quitting can be a setback at a young age.
Zach acknowledges that the act of quiet quitting will not allow one to be exposed to “the full potential of the job you are doing”. He believes it is about finding balance.
“Do not limit yourself from learning as much as you can, because every job is a learning opportunity for you. But at the same time, do not overwork yourself. You need a work-life balance.”
Those who quiet quit may have their reasons, bound by their circumstances and the burden of external commitments. Say the working parent who only has so much energy to devote between work and children, or someone who is forced to juggle multiple jobs to feed their family. I don’t think they should be shamed for not “going above and beyond”.
Compared to the older generations, youths have far more energy, drive and arguably less demanding commitments than the average adult.
Some older generation workers can afford to ‘quiet quit’ because they have already established themselves through their long service. Think Stanley from The Office or Hitchock and Scully from Brooklyn Nine Nine. These characters are known for not doing much, but they have contributed a lot in their respective story worlds.
A luxury that youths don’t have is precisely that – experience.
It is all the more reason that one should use their energy to hustle and their time to gain experience, all within healthy work boundaries.
Validating quiet quitting
Another youth I spoke to, who wanted to be known only as Adlynna, thinks that youths shouldn’t be collectively categorised into the “having more energy and time” category.
The 23-year-old who works in the finance sector says: “We should validate that feeling (of wanting to quiet quit).”
She relates this to how she strived to be financially independent from a young age. Whenever she told her peers that she felt tired or burnt out, she would be faced with doubt and scrutiny.
“They would be like, ‘What life? You just started life!’,” she shares.
Her quiet quitting experience takes her back to her previous part-time retail jobs, as she was just “doing it for the sake of it” and wanted to earn money on the side.
When it comes to advice for quiet quitters or those considering it, Adlynna said: “Don’t feel guilty, don’t feel anxious that you are not catching up with the world.
“We all have different stories in our lives. There might be a reason why they decided to do the bare minimum.”
It’s worth noting that if one is already on the track of quiet quitting, they should consider re-evaluating their workplace boundaries or the job altogether.
Although quiet quitting may carry some negative connotations, it is not necessarily something bad – if done reasonably.
It can be seen as an avenue to heal, reassess oneself and formulate a plan before going back into work.
Recognise when you feel burnt out; do what you can to explain your situation to your superiors and get that time off – this can be days or months for some, as everyone heals differently. Give yourself time to properly rest and destress and only return to work once you feel ready.
The real harm comes when it turns into a permanent decision, robbing one of future opportunities and challenges. It affects those within the quiet-quitter’s professional circles.
In a team, colleagues might be burdened by additional yet unnecessary workload which can hurt their career progression. It may not even stop there.
Prolonged quiet quitting, especially in large numbers, could eventually harm a company’s overall performance and even growth.
Quiet quitting is a two-way street and requires effort by both the employee and the employer.
The employee needs to let their superiors know their reasons for not giving their best at work, be it the lack of a work-life balance or the lack of pay.
Employers, in turn, must be open in allowing their workers to voice their grievances and be willing to accommodate the necessary changes. With this symbiotic relationship, perhaps we can put an end to quiet quitting in the workplace.
Take that break, but don’t let it break you.