What is “quiet quitting” and should you do it?

“Quiet quitting,” or “soft quitting” has been big on social media over the past while. Many people, mostly Generation Z workers, have been posting videos to TikTok about this supposedly new trend, which is essentially about focusing more on work-life balance.

A video by a TikTok user named Zaid Khan that has gone viral explains:

“I recently learned about this term called quiet quitting where you’re not outright quitting your job but you’re quitting the idea of going above and beyond. You’re still performing your duties but you’re no longer subscribing to the hustle culture mentality that work has to be your life. The reality is, it’s not and your worth as a person is not defined by your labour.”

Quiet quitting is “doing what’s required and then getting on with your life”

And an article on World Economic Forum states, “Quiet quitting doesn’t mean actually quitting your job. It just means doing what’s required and then getting on with your life – having more work-life balance” and that it is “the art of not taking work too seriously.”

Why is the notion of quiet quitting gaining such traction? A BBC article states succinctly that “employees feel overworked and underpaid in the wake of the pandemic and amid the rising cost of living.” Furthermore, for decades, workers have been fed the idea that going above and beyond is what will help them get ahead, while reality is often different; giving more than expected goes completely unnoticed, salaries stagnate, and promotions pass you by. People are fed up and they want their lives back.

Quiet quitting is not a new idea

The idea, however, is not new. As many, including the BBC have been quick to point out, this old notion, now wrapped in new packaging for the younger generation, has been studied under different names for decades, including disengagement, neglect, and withdrawal.

I’m not sure that refusing to go above and beyond is the best route for everyone, or even most people. It might sound like a good idea but going the extra mile can and usually will help you get ahead and succeed in your career. People don’t move up the corporate ladder or thrive in their own businesses by doing the bare minimum. While one does take the risk of this not being the result, many people still get more satisfaction out of doing more than out of doing less.

So, it depends on what you want out of life, but it’s key to know the difference between putting in extra effort and pushing yourself to the point of burnout.

Aren’t we just talking about setting boundaies, after all?

Perhaps when we talk about “quiet quitting” what we are really talking about is good old fashioned boundary setting. Setting boundaries in the workplace is important and can be difficult.

Some examples of strategies for setting workplace boundaries include the following:

Identify your priorities – Identify what is important on your to-do list and what is less important. There may even be items that don’t actually need to be done at all. Ask yourself if everything on your list is important and then whether each item is even necessary.

Say no – We often take on extra responsibility because we feel we have to, but what ends up happening is that we become overwhelmed and instead of doing a few things well, we find ourselves doing many things haphazardly, or not at all, and resenting both those to whom we have said yes and ourselves for not being able to keep up. Try saying no instead.

Use your vacation days – Vacation time is good for you, improving heart health, mindfulness, and brain power. It’s good for your mental health and improves sleep. If you get paid time off, you should use it.

Stick to reasonable hours – You get to decide if you want to clock out at 5 or 6 pm, provided that is when your shift is supposed to end, and actually do so. Once you’re done with work, focus on other things.

Communicate your boundaries – If you’ve been working extra hours and burning the workplace midnight oil, you’ll have to let people know you won’t be doing that anymore. Tell your manager you need to set clearer boundaries and will give it your all during work hours, then set your Slack notifications to silent, which users will see when messaging you after hours. Eventually people will get the message.

Ask the right questions when job searching

When interviewing for jobs in industries that historically expect paid (or unpaid ) overtime, make it part of your process to ask what that actually entails at this particular company. If you get the impression you’ll have to kill yourself to get ahead, hopefully you’re in a position to decide if the job is right for you and if you want to turn it down.

Not everyone has this luxury, but if you do, exercise it.

Everyone may have different ideas of what reasonable boundaries mean to them. Find what works for you.

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