A newcomer to the workplace discourse, quiet quitting is an internet sensation that sheds much-needed light on how employees and managers show up at work and for one another.
Quiet quitting isn't "outright quitting your job,” but rather “quitting the idea of going above and beyond” at work, according to the video that originally sparked the quiet quitting conversation. Quiet quitting means you’re performing your job duties, just not “subscribing to the hustle culture mentality that work has to be your life.”
Depending on who you ask, quiet quitting is either a sign of laziness or healthy boundaries. But is it that simple?
In this article, we’ll outline the quiet quitting phenomenon, what quiet quitting means, what managers should know about quiet quitting, and how to support employees quiet quitting at work. Let’s get started.
What is quiet quitting?
The term quiet quitting first surfaced on TikTok, where it spread like wildfire, capturing hundreds of millions of viewers across multiple accounts talking about the idea. Soon enough, mainstream media outlets began covering it as the concept seeped into online and offline conversations about work and how people show up for it.
Professor Michal Strahilevitz, Director of the Elfenworks Center for Responsible Business at Saint Mary’s College of California, said in an interview that she sees similar driving factors between the quiet quitting phenomenon and the Great Resignation, for instance, work-life balance.
“Just to clarify for people what silent quitting is, it’s just setting those boundaries and saying I want more life in that work-life equation,” Strahilevitz said.
Quiet quitting and occupational burnout
Quiet quitting is often characterized as a reaction against hustle culture, the “rise and grind” mentality that prioritizes work or success at any cost. But reacting against toxic work cultures is one thing. And then there’s occupational burnout.
Although the two concepts are related, they are fundamentally different. Quiet quitting can be seen as more of an approach to work, whereas occupational burnout is a byproduct of work-related stress, according to Mayo Clinic.
Per the World Health Organization, burn-out is described as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” The three dimensions of occupational burnout include: feelings of low energy or exhaustion, cynicism or “increased mental distance from one’s job,” and diminished work productivity.
If you believe you’re experiencing feelings of occupational burnout, experts recommend speaking with a doctor or mental health provider to ensure you get the care you need. Occupational burnout symptoms can be linked to other health conditions, including depression.
What managers should know about quiet quitting
Writing for The National Law Review, employment attorney Corbin Carter acknowledges that some employers may feel “distressed” when it comes to quiet quitting.
The ”’quiet quitting’” concept is reportedly taking hold in large part because workers are trying to redraw work-life boundaries following the pandemic, the Great Resignation, return-to-office pushes, inflation woes, and other recent phenomena,” Carter wrote. “Many teams are stretched thin given labor market constraints, and remaining workers are taking on wider responsibilities. Employers should evaluate what is working, what is not, and how they can offer support to help combat worker fatigue.”
The way quiet quitting seemed to resonate with so many workers, and so quickly too, signals to employers, managers, and business leaders they “need to do more…to make the time at work healthy” physically, emotionally, and mentally, according to Strahilevitz with The Elfenworks Center for Responsible Business.
“If you’re giving people too much stress and not enough appreciation, not enough reward, and not enough downtime, then they’re going to take things into their own hands and say ‘You know, I’m just going to do the bare minimum,’” she explained.
Focus on employee engagement
For more than 50 years, Gallup has undertaken employee engagement research, revealing strong links between engaged employees, job satisfaction, and better business outcomes.
“People want purpose and meaning from their work,” according to Gallup. “They want to be known for what makes them unique. This is what drives employee engagement.”
According to the firm, purpose, development, a caring manager, ongoing conversations, and a focus on strength all contribute to employee engagement. These factors show just how crucial healthy workplace cultures are. It's more than having a polished mission statement or adding "fun" work events to the calendar; it's about creating a culture that supports employees holistically.
Foster sustainable, inclusive workplaces alongside AboveBoard
For some folks, building a balanced approach to work might include quiet quitting to some degree. But that’s not everyone’s story. In a series of TikTok videos laying out her perspective on quiet quitting, Amanda Henry said that, as a Black woman in corporate America, “it’s a little bit harder to navigate setting those boundaries because we always have to kind of prove ourselves and go above and beyond just to be seen.”
At AboveBoard, we’re working toward a future where workers of all backgrounds, including entry-level employees and executive leaders, can show up at work authentically and purposefully. We believe that everyone has something valuable to bring to the table, but the unfortunate reality is that not everyone gets to.
That’s why AboveBoard’s innovative executive hiring platform exists. We’re here to unlock doors and opportunities previously obscured to underrepresented candidates because of traditional forms of executive recruitment, like leveraging personal networks or retaining traditional search firms. On AboveBoard, underrepresented candidates, including Black, Latinx/Hispanic, and female executives, have direct access to boardroom and C-suite opportunities at today’s leading companies. Together, we can build sustainable, inclusive workplaces one diverse hire at a time.