There’s been a lot in the media over the last year about the concept of “quiet quitting”. Have you heard of it? And, if you have… is it something you’ve been considering?
Quiet quitting refers to shunning the hustle culture, saying no to long (unpaid) unsocial working hours, letting go of the extra slog and maintaining the bare minimum to fulfil the requirements of your role.
The term went viral when TikTokker @zkchillin posted this short video. He suggests, “You’re not outright quitting your job, but you’re quitting the idea of going above and beyond.”
In Australia, at least, this movement spread quickly through workplaces where employees were trying to deal with increased business expectations in a time of economic instability. For burnt out individuals in organisations struggling to supplement their workforces, quiet quitting offers the solution to regaining some level of work/life balance.
But, listen up… quiet quitting is a really bad idea.
If you’re thinking about quiet quitting, think again
Yes, I know this view might be controversial, but hear me out. I’m not suggesting you should be working 70 hr weeks or overworking yourself to the point of burnout. I’m saying quiet quitting is absolutely NOT the solution if you are, or have been, working this way.
Why? Well, the issue lies in the term itself. Being “quiet” indicates secrecy and passivity (possibly even passive-aggression?). And “quitting” is an action related to leaving or walking away… not exactly what you want to be known for at work. Is it?
Quiet quitting is a bad for an individual because it suggests you have no agency over your time and behaviour.
Quiet quitting is troubling if you’re a leader because it means you and your team are not on the same page. Somewhere there is a breakdown in communication.
And quiet quitting as a general trend in an organisation should be seen as an indicator of something sinister lurking in your workplace. Unrealistic expectations, poor messaging, toxic work practices to name a few.
Options to consider instead of quiet quitting
If you feel stretched beyond your capacity at work, try these steps instead –
1. IDENTIFY YOUR LIMITS
Here’s a newsflash… you’re a grown-ass adult and it’s up to you to take control. It’s likely you’re the one choosing to work the extra hours and make yourself available outside of work time. No-one is forcing you to work to that extent. But when you do, you’ve automatically set the expectation you’re available and will work in that way.
2. COMMUNICATE & MANAGE YOUR BOUNDARIES
If you need to take back your “out of hours” time, then do so strategically and transparently. Set your boundaries by stating the hours outside of regular work time you will or will not be available. Let your manager, your team and your clients know. And most importantly, however difficult it is, hold these solid. Making exceptions creates a slippery downward slope to overwhelm.
3. HAVE A PRIORITISATION CONVERSATION
You might be thinking, “but if I don’t do these extra hours, things won’t get done”. And that might be absolute fact. Possibly everyone around you is working in the same way. If this is the case, it’s not a time to be “quiet”. If the way you’re working right now is not working for you, it’s time to bring it into the open, be proactive about asking for what you want and making constructive changes.
[PS If you’re being forced to work beyond your capacity and your concerns are being ignored, then quiet quitting is still NOT the answer. Opportunities for skilled talent are at an all time high. It’s time to take your contribution elsewhere.]
If you’re a leader who’s noticing quiet quitting trending in your team, think about investigating things further –
1. DON’T IGNORE THINGS
If members of your team have suddenly reduced their output and availability, don’t pretend it’s not happening. If your top employees are suddenly less willing to “go the extra mile”, investigate what’s happening. Speak with them, be empathetic and ask questions. Find out what’s happening. Open the door to co-creating solutions rather than turning a blind eye.
2. HUSTLE AND GRIND IS NOT MANDATORY
If you, or your company, subscribe to the idea that high performing, successful outcomes only happen in an atmosphere of “busyness”, it’s time to think again. A study from Stanford discovered productivity declines once you’ve worked more than 50 hours in a week. Success is predicated on strategy, clear targets, good communication, employee support and care… not on working longer and harder.
3. LEAD BY EXAMPLE
Your team will mirror your behaviour. So make sure you’re setting the example you want them to follow. If you’re doing “all the hours”, sending emails at weekends and working on your holidays, you’ve created an expectation about the “right” way to work. Create the boundaries that work for you and then let others know about them.
Forget quiet quitting, take control of your work-life boundaries and create a working life that works for you. If you need support to set and maintain your work boundaries so you can reduce the overwhelm and get your life back? I’d love to help you work it out.