What is Quiet Quitting?
“Quitting the idea of going above and beyond at work”
The phenomenon of “quiet quitting” has gained momentum on TikTok since last Summer, with users sharing humorous videos of how they’ve opted to do the ‘minimum required from them’ within their workplace. These videos typically involve users creating a montage of various tasks within their role, followed by the refusal of additional tasks, declining overtime and out-of-hours working and questioning requests that lay outside of their perceived job requirements.
On TikTok alone, as of April 2023,
#QuietQuitting has 693.1 million views, 35 million in the UK (12 Month period)
#Quitting has 663.5 million views, 75 million in the UK (3 Year period)
Quiet quitting goes hand-in-hand with the other TikTok concept: “acting your wage”. This involves employees opting to only conduct the tasks they believe they are ‘paid to do’. Essentially, it relates to coasting – fulfilling only contractual duties and meeting the very minimum of expectations, without actively seeking to grow ones skillset or stretch themselves, avoiding participation additional activities. This is not a new concept - it's essentially the age-old topic of employee engagement with a shiny new buzz word attached.
One user describes ‘acting your wage’ as “not overextending yourself for a job that doesn’t care about you or pay you enough” and that “the amount of money you are getting paid should reflect the amount of work that you put in.”
It's worth noting that social media trends are of course not an accurate perception of real life, and it's important to approach them critically and with a pinch of salt. However, it's important to acknowledge this shift in mindset, particularly amongst Gen Z workers and social media users who could potentially be influenced by such trends.
How to identify Quiet Quitting in the workplace:
Typically, there are a few types of ‘Quiet Quitters’ within a workplace.
Quiet quitting is often about balance. This can present itself as employees’ perceived balance between;
Work life balance
Long term and short-term goals
Effort and reward
Boundaries & Burn Out:
As humans, we naturally have external factors impacting our jobs and careers. This can sometimes lead to feeling burnt out and leave people seeking better work-life boundaries. Some examples of this would be a number of personal experiences or transitional moments such as the birth of a child, moving house or other significant life events – all of which are particularly emotional situations.
In these cases, it’s likely their career and progress is not the priority in their life at that moment in time, and they are showing employers that due to other external factors, “this is what works for me right now”, leading to quiet quitting. They are here to do what is required of them within their contractual role while they refocus of other factors of their lives.
Often, this is not a long-term mindset. As situations change, their mindset adapts too. It’s common that in a few weeks or months, their career is once again pushed to the forefront and their ‘mojo’ returns.
Example: “My life is in a place right now where my career is not my priority, my heart is elsewhere”
Long Term Goals: ‘The Side Hustle”
These individuals view their employment solely as a requirement to build and develop alternative plans and strategies. For example, they could be prioritising a passion or ‘side hustle’ – another income in which their long-term strategy is truly invested.
These individuals often view their job as just one-part of their ‘portfolio’. They respect, appreciate and are willing to work for it, but its not their long term plan. They are likely to have another income stream in which they are potentially financially and emotionally invested and therefore intentionally proportion their time to ensure they are able to focus on their passions, leading to ‘quiet quitting’.
Example: “I realise my job is not my passion, but I need the security of a steady income until my side-business has grown enough to support me independently.”
Some organisations have policies in place to deter this, meaning employees are not able to work a second job while they are employed by them to avoid the risks of exhaustion and limit distractions. This can be particularly helpful when roles require high attention to detail, creativity or are predominantly physical.
Similarly, an Employee may opt to 'quiet quit' before retirement, doing just what is required of them int heir day-to-day role, whilst they look forward to pursing other passions.
Trauma and Dissatisfaction
This type of ‘Quiet Quitter’ is usually reactive. Something may have happened that’s lead them to really disengage, loose heart and loose their ambition to thrive and grow within the organisation.
‘Psychological safety’, the concept of ones ability to express themselves without fear of negative consequences such as retaliation, punishment, or ostracism, is a key component of a healthy and productive work environment.
Disengagement occurs when ones ‘psychological safety’ is breached. Breaches could be identified as events occurring that one deems traumatic, causing strong negative emotions. Of course, everyone is unique and therefore perceptions of said trauma will differ from person to person, however, that does not make one persons experience more or less valid than another’s.
Some examples of this could be being made fun of at work, any level of confrontation or the perception that they are not being treated fairly and being valued by their colleagues and leaders.
This can often lead to employees emotionally ‘clocking out’. While still completing contractual tasks within their role, their hearts are not in it, resulting in them quiet quitting. When people feel unseen, unheard and undervalued, but bills still need to get paid, they'll often adopt this position - doing their jobs, but no more.
Example: “I will give my employer my ‘hands’, some of my ‘head’ but none of my ‘heart’”
In order to foster psychological safety, it's important to create a culture of respect and trust, where individuals are encouraged to express their opinions and perspectives. This can involve practices such as active listening, open communication, and inclusive decision-making. Leaders and managers can also play a key role in promoting psychological safety by modelling appropriate behaviours and creating an environment where feedback is valued and acted upon.
How can I prevent ‘quiet quitting’ within my organisation?
Employers can take several steps to prevent employees opting to ‘quiet quit’, including:
Review salaries: Put simply, the trend identifies disparities between Employers expectations and Employees pay. Reviewing job descriptions and contracts to ensure you are offering a fair and accurate salary will ensure this is avoided. If you are looking for support regarding benchmarking, take a look at our Salary and Benefits report.
Review policies: If there are particular circumstances you wish to avoid, or alternatively, expectations you want employees to meet, ensure you have the appropriate policies and contracts in place to support this. This will ensure everyone knows where they stand regarding expected performance and commitment levels.
Communication: Trust, mutual respect and communication is key to prevent both burn-out and ‘quite quitting’. Regular check-ins, catch ups and reviews can be helpful to determine an individuals current situation. At Hewett Recruitment, we conduct regular ‘motivational check-ins’ with the team to help identify what is important to them, allowing a personalised and bespoke development plan based around their needs and desires, on both a short and long-term basis. If you’d like to learn more about this, get in touch.
Encourage work-life balance: Employers can encourage their employees to take breaks, set boundaries between work and personal life, and prioritise self-care. This can be done by offering flexible work arrangements, promoting regular breaks, and encouraging employees to take time off when needed.
Foster a positive work environment: Employers can foster a positive work environment by promoting a culture of respect and open communication. This can involve recognising employee achievements, celebrating successes, encouraging collaboration, and providing regular feedback. You can find out more about building a positive company culture here.
Manage workload: Employers can prevent feelings of resentment that may lead to quiet quitting by managing workload and ensuring that employees are not overburdened with excessive tasks. This can involve setting realistic goals, providing resources and support, and prioritising tasks based on their importance.
Provide professional development opportunities: Employers can prevent quiet quitting or employees ‘checking out’ by regularly sharing updates of overarching growth plans, objectives and long-term goals with the team, identifying opportunities for professional development. This can involve offering training programs, mentorship, and career advancement opportunities.
Address stressors: Employers can address stressors that contribute to negative connotations with the workplace, such as peer conflict, job insecurity, and poor working conditions. This can involve implementing policies and practices that support employee well-being, investing in tech to ease workloads and addressing issues that contribute to workplace stress.
Overall, the theory of quiet quitting is more than a trending TikTok or entertaining meme, it’s a real threat facing employee engagement. Employers can help prevent quiet quitting by prioritising employee well-being and creating a positive work environment that supports employee growth and development. By doing so, employers can promote a healthy and productive workforce and reduce turnover and absenteeism.
If you would like further support or advice on your recruitment and retention strategies, get in touch with our team who would be happy to help.