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Blog>Guides>Are You a Quiet Quitter? Or Are You Just Doing Your Job?

Are You a Quiet Quitter? Or Are You Just Doing Your Job?

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Whether or not you’re a regular on LinkedIn, Twitter, TikTok, or any other social media platform that regularly posts content about work-life balance, you may have heard of a term that’s been trending recently: quiet quitting. What does this phrase mean, how did it start trending, and why has it worked its way into being a whole movement?

Even though the phrase has the word “quit” in it, quiet quitting doesn’t really have anything to do with quitting a job — literally speaking. Let us explain. What “quiet quitting” really means is that you’ve decided to only do what fits your particular job criteria or description — nothing less and nothing more. In other words: to prevent added stress, and burnout, and have healthy work-life boundaries that include more personal time for family and self-care, you don’t feel the need to go above and beyond at work.

The term “quiet quitting” might be new, but the concept has been around for quite some time, and it especially applies to the hamster-wheel of hustle culture. In this article, we’ll delve deeper into the ins and outs of quiet quitting at work and how to better manage your work-life balance.

What Is Quiet Quitting?

While we’ve given a general one-size-fits-all description of what quiet quitting means, the reality is that the term can actually be interpreted differently, depending on the individual. Some may see it as a way to encourage workers to fulfill their work duties to the best of their ability (within regular working hours) and not be a slave to burnout at work. Alternatively, others may see it as a term coined to encourage slacking off.

So why is quiet quitting a trend that’s gaining traction in recent times? The movement is considered a response to employee burnout, workplace stress, anxiety, and worry over potential physical and emotional breakdown — on top of the never-ending grind of hustle culture. It also encourages people to set better boundaries so that they aren’t getting roped into doing tasks they aren’t being paid for.

There are some drawbacks to the concept of quiet quitting, though. Some people may argue that dedication is an important factor when you’re trying to advance your career, and that going above and beyond shows that commitment. Ultimately, ambition isn’t a bad thing — if anything, it should be commended.

There are two sides to every coin, and the concept of "quiet quitting" is no exception. As we examine this trend further, it’s important to note that we are not encouraging workers to do simply the bare minimum — our goal is to help employees examine how to achieve a better work-life balance in a positive workplace environment.

Where Did “Quiet Quitting” Come From?

The term “quiet quitting” — paired with the idea of solely working within your job description only when on the clock — spread like wildfire via TikTok. A couple of years spent working through the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in people quitting jobs amidst the Great Resignation. Many people realized that they either didn’t want to be stuck in the same ungratifying job, or that they wanted to work for companies on terms that were as equally beneficial and emotionally supportive for them.

It didn’t take long for the idea to go viral. TikTok users started to encourage each other to have better boundaries at work and stick to their job descriptions so that they didn't succumb to burnout. This trend suggests that quietly disregarding any extra tasks you’ve been accepting as part of your job can prevent work from taking over your life. As one TikTok user Allison Peck says in a video that garnered over one million views: "People are not going above and beyond anymore. They’re not chasing hustle culture at work.”

How Hustle Culture Plays into Quiet Quitting

We’ve mentioned hustle culture a couple of times, but what is hustle culture, really? Also known as grind culture, hustle culture has gained traction in our times as a never-ending race to take on more work in hopes of expediting professional growth. But problems quickly arise once you get caught in this negative feedback loop, since there’s always more money to make, a bigger and better job title or promotion to go for, more clients to add to your roster, and more things to add to your plate. More, more, more.

You can see how this common denominator for always wanting and needing more can play right into the hands of being overworked and overstressed — all at the expense of our emotional and physical well-being.

Spotting Unrealistic Expectations at Work

If you’re reaching a point of burnout at work, or simply want to achieve a better work-life balance, it’s important to assess your current situation before simply classifying yourself as a “quiet quitter.” This starts with determining the difference between what clear and unrealistic work expectations are, as well as any signs that you may be getting overworked. Let’s take a look at what would qualify as some unrealistic work expectations from your boss or manager.

  • Are you juggling two job descriptions? This means doing your own job and then being given tasks that really should come under a whole other job description. If you find yourself in this situation, we recommend speaking to your manager about any concerns you have and how they can affect your work performance. This may even open up a conversation about a promotion or adding another person to your team.

  • Have you been unceremoniously given the task of playing personal assistant to your boss in addition to being expected to carry out your regular job duties? Again, respectfully bring up your concerns with your manager or ask Human Resources (HR) for advice. Be sure to kindly express your concerns about how you don’t want your own job to suffer or start falling behind as a result of the extra duties.

  • Does your boss take the credit and recognition for something you did? Does this happen frequently? If the answer to these questions is “yes,” then we suggest opening up a conversation with your boss about how you feel. Your boss may be doing it without realizing it. Another possible solution is to speak up about all of the things you did for a particular project in a tactful manner during your team meetings so that your other colleagues are all in the know. When it comes down to it, it’s better to overcommunicate, as long as you do so respectfully.

  • Are you constantly being asked — or worse, expected — to work overtime? In this case, it’s important to remind your manager that you may be able to work overtime once in a while, but that you have other commitments outside of work. It may also help to keep track of how often you’ve had to work overtime over the course of a month or two so you can tactfully bring this up on your next one-on-one.

  • Is there a lack of or low team morale at your company? Does everyone feel like they’re being overworked or underappreciated? If this sounds most like your situation, we suggest speaking to your other coworkers, then taking the matter to your manager during a team meeting so that everyone can have their say. Don’t blindside your manager: one idea could be to send them an email before the meeting outlining concerns. This way, your manager can come prepared with solutions and ensure there is time allotted in the meeting to discuss everyone’s concerns.

  • Is it getting increasingly difficult for you to put out quality work because the pace your boss expects is unrealistic? Talk to your manager — they may be more receptive to giving more realistic deadlines than you might think. If you need to, also mention how multiple deadlines can make you feel stressed, and that you’d prefer to give your full energy to one project at a time. We encourage writing down what you’re going to say about a week before you bring up your concerns. It also helps to compile a list of all your current tasks and how long each task takes to realistically complete. This way, you’ll have ample time to add or refine everything you need to discuss.

If you feel like any — or all — of the above list applies to you, then it may be a good time to have a conversation with colleagues and management about how to deal with unrealistic expectations at work. Only then can you begin to move towards a better work-life balance.

So the Question Is, Are You Quiet Quitting?

If you know or suspect that you’re handling more than what should be required of you — such as consistently working overtime without adequate compensation — then this is something that we highly suggest exploring within yourself. Have you been stuck in a toxic work environment that you need to move on from? Or is there a way to work with your boss to set boundaries for your mental health? If you’re taking steps to set healthy boundaries, then you're headed in the right direction.

Here’s another thing to consider: if there are healthy boundaries at your workplace, but you feel like your heart isn’t in it anymore, then your lack of work motivation might be worth investigating inside yourself. Is it time to look for a new job? Should you pursue a career change in an entirely different field? Is it time to consider pursuing that side passion that you’ve been dreaming about?

If your answer to any of those questions was anything but a sure “no,” we highly encourage reflecting on your current situation further. Contrary to popular belief, it’s never too late to consider a career change or start your own business! If either of those options sounds like your ideal next step, it’s important to have a healthy savings account to support you during the transition — which just might be the motivation you need to continue going at your current place of work.

Should You Participate in Quiet Quitting?

The answer to this question all depends on what drives you in life and your career. Experts say that the downside to quiet quitting — even when you’re perfectly content to do so — is that employees who are the least invested in their job and not considered a “go-getter” by their colleagues may be one of the first employees to get laid off or demoted in a down economy. So if you want to climb that corporate ladder or break that glass ceiling — or at the very least be considered for regular raises and promotions — then your best bet for all of the above is to be a reliable contributor. But if your heart just isn’t in it, then we suggest looking for a more fulfilling job without burning bridges.

Are There Risks to Quiet Quitting?

We’ve already touched on some of the risks, such as being on your boss’ radar for getting demoted or worse, laid off. While these may be a stretch depending on your particular job, if you only do the minimum requirements, then you won’t stand out amongst other employees.

Even if you think you’ll just find another job, you may not get the shining reference you need for being what your company might consider a “mediocre” employee. We want to stress that you should never burn bridges in the workplace.

Since you know the ins and outs of your job, you’ll have direct insight into what you can offer, where you need support, and when you should set clear boundaries. Communicating any unrealistic job expectations with your team and manager is the wise thing to do in order to come up with solutions that work for all parties involved.

Should You Just Quit and Find Another Job?

If you dread the idea of going to work every day, and you feel like you have no motivation to work in your current role, then we strongly recommend that you start looking for another job or even put in your notice (if you can’t stomach staying there any longer) as long as you have a healthy emergency fund. If this is unfeasible, then we advise giving yourself some time to save at least three months of expenses while you get a new job search going. Once you start saving up, be sure to give yourself a deadline to check in with yourself — such as six months out, or by the end of the year — so that your current situation is emotionally survivable. The most ideal scenario would be to have a new job lined up before you quit your current one.

Once you’re ready to make your next career move, check out our guide on resignation etiquette so that putting in your notice is as seamless — and hopefully as painless — as possible. If you’re ready to get on a new job track, you can find many exciting new jobs on Joblist to get you headed towards new horizons!

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