If you’ve been following the trends in work culture lately, you are bound to have heard the term “quiet quitting.” This term seemed to explode out of nowhere, popularized by TikToker @zaidleppelin in his viral video explaining a term he recently learned about called quiet quitting.
Even with countless articles written about it, the term can be a little vague. What do people really mean when they are talking about quiet quitting? For some people, they may be talking about doing the absolute bare minimum at their job. Others argue that it is about setting better boundaries or not taking on work that is outside of your job description.
Regardless of what context people are bringing to the conversation about quiet quitting, the way that it so quickly captured our culture consciousness is an indicator that there is something going on here. The global upheaval due to the coronavirus has given (sometimes forced) many people the space and perspective to rethink the way we work. This can be seen with other labor trends as well, such as the Great Resignation and the dramatic rising popularity of labor unions. People’s view of work has changed, and they don’t want to let it consume every moment of their lives.
Naturally, with so much change, sometimes there can be an overcorrection. Are boundaries at work good? Absolutely! Is doing the work you are being compensated for fair? Of course. But the quiet quitting discussion can point to a potential lack of engagement in employees – which is not good for anyone. While employees might think that disengagement is a healthy choice, the most ideal option is to work in an environment where you are supported, encouraged to be creative, and able to develop your strengths. This isn’t inherently at odds with having healthy boundaries in your work life. After all, we spend a huge chunk of our lives at work. We want it to be fulfilling, and boundaries play an important role in that.
If a large portion of a company’s workforce is quiet quitting, it might be an indicator of poor leadership and unhealthy work culture instead of just individual employees’ motivations. If an employee feels like they are just a number or a way to increase the company’s bottom line, it’s no surprise that they would do the bare minimum. If an employee doesn’t feel appreciated or valued, why would they devote any extra energy to the same company that they feel takes advantage of them?
On the other hand, companies that prioritize employee wellbeing can reduce even the need for quiet quitting. Employee wellbeing should be a priority not an afterthought. A study done by the Harvard Business Review found a relationship between the quality of a manager and the number of quiet quitters on their team. The less the employees trusted their manager, the more likely they were to engage in quiet quitting.
It is important for leaders to build a culture that makes employees feel valued and appreciated. Here are a few ways leaders can cultivate trust:
- Connect with your team members on a personal level – don’t make all of your interactions solely about work.
- Be a person of your word and become someone your team can rely on.
- Advocate for your employees and encourage healthy boundaries so they know they aren’t just a number to you.
While quiet quitting is just one way to talk about work culture issues, it is helpful to remember that the culture of work is changing, and successful companies need to be willing to change with it.