Quiet Quitting Isn’t Bad
(it’s what’s underneath that’s cause for concern)
The recent cultural focus on ‘Quiet Quitting’ is a fascinating study in social psychology and influence. Like other 21st-century social megatrends (for example, shaming), quiet quitting isn’t a new phenomenon. Rather, it is a set of behaviors and attitudes that have existed for millennia but have recently been renamed and given attention.
Wikipedia (the ultimate authority of defining all things modern) states:
“Quiet quitting is an application of work-to-rule, in which employees work within defined work
hours and engage solely in activities within those hours. Despite the name, the philosophy of
quiet quitting is not connected to quitting a job outright, but rather doing precisely what the
job requires. Proponents of quiet quitting also refer to it as acting your wage.”
Even though I am a Baby Boomer business owner, it may surprise you that I’m not going to rail against quiet quitting and expound on how bad it is for all involved. That has already been done, and isn’t really needed or helpful.
In fact, I would argue that quiet quitting, in and of itself, isn’t really that bad. Rather, I believe, that the dynamics and beliefs which underpin the quiet quitting movement are the issues which cause concern.
Let me enumerate:
- Indirect communication. A common trait I’ve seen demonstrated among Millennials, Gen X and Gen Z individuals is the unwillingness to communicate directly to others when the conversation is uncomfortable or involves some degree of disagreement (for example, preferring to text so they can avoid a confrontation by not responding). The problem is, our research has found that a core characteristic of toxic workplaces is frequently using indirect communication (sending a message through someone else; going around a superior to get permission from someone else).
- Inauthenticity. With all of the focus on authenticity in recent years, it seems ironic to me that a key component of quiet quitting is to not be open and honest with one’s employer regarding how you feel about your responsibilities and associated compensation. If you feel your employer demands too much and is taking advantage of you, you need to actually discuss this with them.
- Lack of focus on serving customers or clientele. Work is ultimately the process of providing a good or service a client needs or wants, and getting paid for doing so. What I find interesting is the lack of consideration on the impact to customers that quiet quitting creates. Eventually, if a company does not meet the need for its customers, they go elsewhere (and the company goes out of business).
- Lack of empathy. When a person is doing “just enough” as defined by their job description, the effort often does not truly fulfill the requirement. Frequently situations in life are more complicated and require a little more effort or problem-solving to truly meet the need. When you quietly quit, you are saying, “Sorry. That’s all I’m going to do. You will have to figure it out,” which doesn’t show any concern for other people’s situations. This approach doesn’t communicate any concern for the extra work potentially created for one’s colleagues.
- A passive approach to life and life’s challenges. You are not proactively taking responsibility for your life. Quiet quitting is a passive approach to dealing with dissatisfaction. Yes, you may need to set boundaries with your employer regarding expectations for availability, number of hours worked, or being asked to do tasks not in your job description. But does responding by “just doing my job” really help you attain your any of your goals or change your work situation?
- An overemphasis on fairness. The quiet quitting movement reminds me of two children arguing — shouting “That’s not fair!” at each other and then going on a ‘strike’ of some nature in an attempt to get their way and to show their displeasure. Fairness is always an issue of perception and is in the eye of the beholder. I agree that some employers and managers do take advantage of employees and abuse the work-life balance boundary. But I would ask: Is it fair that you were born during this time period in one of the richest countries in history? Would someone born into poverty in Sudan, Sao Paulo, Bangladesh, or Haiti view your life circumstances as fair to them? Ultimately, it is important to spend some time being introspective about what aspects of your job and employer’s expectations are and are not realistic and fair.
When considering the call to engage in quiet quitting, I think it would be wise to stop and reflect on a few questions:
- What is driving your desire to quit quietly – to avoid conflict? Fear of negative response? Sense of a lack of empowerment? A desire for revenge for being treated unfairly?
- Do you have an overall sense that the system/ people owe you things?
- Is quiet quitting an easy way for you to get something for little effort?
- Do you care how your actions impact others? Or are you primarily concerned with getting your own needs and desires met?
- Are there other areas in your life where you aren’t honest with people and don’t tell them what you really think or give them honest feedback?
- Are there other areas of your life where you respond to situations with passive noncompliance (sometimes labeled as being passive aggressive)?
- What is your personal track record for persevering through difficult circumstances?
- What are your career and personal growth goals? How does quiet quitting help you achieve those?
Ultimately, one’s position on quiet quitting is not an issue of what you believe (or what I believe) but what matches reality? I would strongly argue that people who are successful (not financially or career-wise, but in terms of reaching their goals in life) rarely create the life they desire for themselves by utilizing a quiet quitting approach.Tags: Quiet Quitting, Work Your Wage
Categories 5 Languages of Appreciation, Authenticity, Toxic workplaces, Workplace Culture