by Naomi Bang ‘23
The media’s latest buzzword is a concept called “quiet quitting” which has taken the Internet by storm within the past few months. Though not an original concept, the term went viral on TikTok when user Zaid Khan shared his experience of finding a healthy work-life balance. Quiet quitting is the principle of sticking strictly to one’s job description, working no more and no less than required.
According to a Gallup Poll from last month, quiet quitters make up at least 50 percent of the U.S. workforce. Gallup’s definition of quiet quitters describes employees who complete the minimum work required and are mentally detached from their job. On the extreme end, the proportion of actively disengaged employees who are more vocal about their dissatisfaction increased to 18 percent, an all time high.
The coronavirus pandemic completely upended people’s work lives starting in 2020. Many companies went remote and employees were forced to change their approach to their jobs. Workers felt the burden of dealing with Covid-19 procedures on top of normal stressors. After unprecedented numbers in 2020, where employee engagement dropped for the first time in a decade, engagement has continued to see a downward trend.
The majority of support for quiet quitting stems from the under-35 workforce including millennials and Gen-Z. Young workers are turning to social media as an outlet to vent about their experiences and advocate for mental health. In addition to comical skits, users share real-life experiences that motivated them to quiet quit. The overall consensus is lack of manager support and opportunities to learn and develop in their job. Grievances from these young workers point to a growing disconnect between employers and their employees.
Many workers currently experience high levels of burnout. The cost of living has increased and worker rights have declined while wages have remained the same over the past few decades. In response, the rising generation began rejecting this mentality of constant overworking. While the Internet has polarized over the topic of quiet quitting, its original intent aimed to elevate the mental and physical health of workers over pursuing high achievement in the workplace—also known as hustle culture.
While quiet quitting may benefit an individual’s personal life, the mentality of not reaching beyond their current position could harm the employee’s chances of progression up the company. Most jobs require workers to step outside their specified duties to better collaborate with coworkers and serve customers. A few TikTok users now warn against quiet quitting, especially for racial minorities and women who must often meet higher standards to be seen as achieving.
Some call it a trendy term for laziness, others see it as a fight against capitalism. Either way, employees that stick to quiet quitting aim to set healthy boundaries between personal and work life to find balance in a time of severe burnout.