Quiet Quitting

10 January 2023

We have all seen the movies, and probably known the people, where the workaholic focuses totally on their employment to the exclusion of a personal life, health, and recreational pursuits.  The other side of the coin is what is currently termed quiet quitting.  This is when a person completes all the requirements of their job but doesn’t exert any more effort or enthusiasm than is necessary to keep their paycheck coming on a regular basis.

Supervisors and managers have mixed reactions.  Part of it depends on the industry or business.  The immediate past few years have shown a struggle with availability in the work force, so this attitude is frequently endured until the economic situations change.  Some companies make the job so undesireable that the person terminates their employment of their own accord.  Others will simply fire staff that are underperforming.

Quiet quitting is not a new phenomenon.  It has always been with us only now it has been given an official name.  You may also have heard the term “lying flat”.

No one loves their job 100% of the time, but most will put forth the effort to give a fair day’s work for the wages…or do they?  People who take such surveys report that at least half of the work force in the United States is 50% quiet quitters.  This is attributed to those who have become disenchanted with their original career choice, are burned out, can’t find someone to hire them in their chosen field, or who simply don’t know what they want, i.e. trying to “find themselves”.

Examples include not working (answering the phone or replying to a question) outside of the designated work hours of the company or their position, or delaying tasks to the next day that could have been completed with a minor amount of effort.  Businesses should be asking themselves if the problem is with expecting too much out of their staff to cause them to withdraw from going the extra mile.

Quiet quitting can cause conflicts within departments or the company since other employees will resent having to shoulder additional work and feeling that the “quitters” are not carrying their full load.

Some of this is a reality check and putting family time or personal satisfaction ahead of work priorities that came as a result of the Covid-19 sheltering.  It made many people realize the importance of balance in life activities.  It also helped to define an individual’s worth outside of productivity.  Taking a step back also can show that it is not physically, mentally or emotionally beneficial to work beyond capacity long term.  Think of law firms that push for billable hours.

Most people want to be proud of their work and work ethic, and quiet quitting removes that investment in their work lives.  It is certainly possible to create reasonable boundaries and still be proud of the contributions in the work place.  It is important to avoid becoming disengaged.  Employees and employers should both be looking outside the box for answers.  Advancing in your career should not depend on devoting so much time to projects and work that it stresses the limits of endurance.

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