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What Is Quiet Quitting – and Is It a Real Trend?

What Is Quiet Quitting – and Is It a Real Trend?

We’re witnessing an unprecedented shift in how people perceive labor nowadays. It’s hard to say what exactly played into the changes in the psyche of the current workforce. The pandemic could sow a seed of doubt on workaholism and the hustle culture mentality. With Gen Zs entering the scene, the conventional order of things is also highly questionable. According to PwC’s study, work-life balance is the top priority for millennials and Gen Z workers, and they are likely to leave their jobs if the flexibility they desire can’t be provided.

However, it’s not the end of the story. New generation representatives invented another approach to pursue justice and reasonable work conditions. Its best side is that one could fulfill their urge to reach a work-life balance without resorting to such extreme measures as resigning and losing the source of income. This is how quiet quitting was born into our world.

Overview of Quiet Quitting

The term “quiet quitting” has nothing to do with quitting but is more about engagement and dedication. Let’s dive deeper into the history and discover why it’s become such a buzz phrase nowadays.

Some interesting stats

A quick look at statistics might shed some light on the reasons contributing to the quiet quitting trend escalation. According to Statista, the engagement level employees in the United States demonstrate has decreased over the last two years. With its peak at 36 percent in 2020, it has lost 2 points by 2022 and continues to drop.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics May report, nonfarm labor productivity has decreased by 2.7 percent only in the first quarter of 2023. The underlying factors of this downward trend are highly likely to be a 0.2 percent output increase and a 3 percent working hours increase. With the productivity pace growing, the federal minimum wage in the USA has been chilling at the same level since 2009. In a fair (say – perfect) world, the minimum wage would be three times higher if it grew at the same pace as productivity.

Based on the stats, employees have to deal with working environments where they are expected to go the extra mile, be fine with staying late, put up with poor management and low salaries, and somehow avoid burnout. If we compare what young workers expect from employers and what employers offer, no more questions will be left regarding why the quiet quitting trend generally appeared.

History and evolution of the phenomenon

The Los Angeles Times claims that the first reference to the “quiet quitting” term belongs to Bryan Creely, a former recruiter and currently a career coach. He used the term ‘Quiet Quitting in his video posted on his personal social media accounts in 2022.

Another widespread opinion refers to the Chinese concept of “lying flat,” which appeared right after the pandemic and lockdown broke out in 2021. Being known for unhealthy workaholism and enormous societal pressures connected with productivity, Chinese people finally looked at the situation with their eyes wide open. Over-achieving and rate races are getting less and less prioritized. Psychological well-being is overtaking economic materialism. This idea might have inspired Americans to create their own concept, now known as “quiet quitting.”

The quiet quitting trend among individuals and organizations

Of course, managers crave hiring engaged employees who don’t mind going the extra mile now and then for the sake of the company’s prosperity and the common good. Going above and beyond is a part of citizenship behaviors. Those include working non-office hours, attending non-mandatory meetings, or doing extra work not assigned in their job description. If all this is counterbalanced by a decent salary, responsive and caring management, or achievable career advancements, there is nothing terrible in going beyond the call of duty. However, if employees start feeling a lack of balance between their effort and returns, and management turns a blind eye to it, no wonder they will look for their own ways to address the imbalance.

This is what quiet quitting refers to – doing what you’re expected to but neither more nor less than is assigned in your job contract. In other words, quiet quitters continue fulfilling their primary responsibilities so that corporate processes are unaffected. However, they mentally check out and stop pouring their whole heart into their work. Somebody may accuse younger workers of being picky, but, for example, Gallup finds quiet quitting a symptom of poor management. Where is the truth? Let’s find out below.

Causes of Quiet Quitting

Gallup says that “quiet quitters” make up at least half of the US workforce nowadays. But why are passionate and motivated workers increasingly choosing the path of indifference and emotional detachment at work?

We believe the reasons for the phenomenon can be divided into internal and external. The latter implies the overall economic outlook deterioration in the US and worldwide. This fact makes outright quitting a less feasible and applicable option for many workers, as they cannot afford to lose their income. They’d rather go for “quiet quitting” instead of “loud job search.”

And if companies and businesses are powerless to initiate change from the outside and stabilize the economy around the country and the world, they are capable of making a difference and starting the shift from the inside. As they say, from small beginnings come great things. Here, we have collected the most widespread examples of poor management not addressing, which will inevitably turn your new-generation workers into quiet quitters.

Employee dissatisfaction in the workplace environment

This information will be helpful for employers and their self-reflection. Can you describe the atmosphere in your company or department as supportive, cooperative, and inspiring? Are your employees free to take sick time or personal days whenever needed? Do they feel compelled to put in extra effort, or it’s their personal choice to? Do they get something in return besides vague promises about a brighter future? Any negative answers to these questions may mean that the environment in your workplace is unhealthy and is likely to make workers resort to the quiet quitting strategy.

Company culture not conducive to personal growth

An opportunity to boost or learn new skills automatically means taking on new challenges and developing as a specialist. If an organization doesn’t provide its workers with such an option, employees may feel stagnant and unfulfilled in their roles. This results in boredom, dissatisfaction, and motivation loss.

Additionally, a poor work-life balance and a toxic environment make people constantly work in survival mode. The outcomes of the survival mode are burnout, disengagement, and even depression. Do these conditions contribute to a person’s willingness to develop themselves professionally? We doubt it very much.

Unclear expectations of the role and responsibilities in a job

Employers are often prone to job creep – gradually increasing a worker’s core job responsibilities list. New activities often pop up depending on the circumstances at work but aren’t included in a job contract. Dealing with such unclear job requirements, employees may eventually get frustrated and opt out of being high performers. In other words, they go for quiet quitting, thus concentrating on the bare minimum and not bothering themselves with living up to their boss’ expectations.

If managers are willing to prevent the metamorphosis, they’d better reconsider the lists of core responsibilities and extra ones. By doing so, their employees will get a more accurate reflection of what they are obliged to do and what will be qualified as extra. Moreover, they should be free to choose if they want to focus on performing only their essential tasks at a high level or go beyond them.

The Consequences of Quiet Quitting

Even though the concept seems to be innocent, it’s only at first sight. According to PwC research, 38% of executives cited talent acquisition and retention as a severe risk in 2022. However, even facing a talent shortage, employers would prefer to avoid dealing with quiet quitters in their organizations. Let’s figure out why.

Short-term impact on productivity and morale within companies

  1. Decreased productivity. It’s not only about lower quality of work and lack of effectiveness but also about being reluctant to collaborate, generate ideas, and contribute to problem-solving.
  2. Poor morale. Quiet quitters can easily compel their colleagues to question the system. As a result, people create a hostile atmosphere of mistrust at work, affecting the overall morale.
  3. Reduced engagement. Individuals who have checked out from the hustle culture mentality are less likely to build strong, cohesive teams. This factor can hardly invest in the company’s success and competitiveness.

Long-term financial implications for businesses

The short-term implications of keeping quiet quitters in a workplace severely blow the company’s pocket in the long run.

  • First and foremost, lower productivity and efficiency are bound to cause a revenue decrease.
  • Secondly, the company’s reputation is likely to be harmed. Low morale leads to leaving employees. Leaving employees and a lack of growth opportunities lead to increased turnover rates. As a result, the company needs help attracting new talents and, therefore, can’t withstand the competition in the market.
  • Finally, it’s turnover costs. Experienced hiring managers and bosses are well aware of the fact that hiring new workers is pretty costly. Frequent turnover can leave an indelible mark on the company’s budget and even lead to bankruptcy.

Closing Thoughts

So, even though quiet quitting might be an option for employees to survive in unhealthy working environments, it poses a real threat to businesses. If employers want to avoid this issue in their organizations, they have to refine their employees’ work conditions and perceive them as individuals, not a faceless workforce.

Date: 10 May 2023
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