Quiet Quitting: What Employers and Individuals Need to Know

Posted 10/31/2022 in Trends by Jen Lyons

If you’re in the professional world and haven’t heard the phrase “quiet quitting” in the last few months, you may not have been paying attention. While the exact origin of the concept can’t be credited to just one person, TikToks from Zaiad Khan and Clayton Farris over the summer went viral with simple explanations of quiet quitting. So what is quiet quitting? Said Khan, “You’re still performing your duties, but you are no longer subscribing to the hustle culture mentally that work has to be our life.” Others define it as simply putting in the bare minimum effort at work.

The phrase “work-life balance” has been batted around for years, and the COVID-19 pandemic made many employees reevaluate their career goals and how they spend their days at work. Some workplace culture experts even argue that certain groups have been quiet quitting for decades–namely, working moms.

In the fast-paced tech world, burnout is real, and even if quiet quitting is actual quitting’s lower-key cousin, it’s a real concern for both employees and employers. Here’s what both groups can do to prevent quiet quitting.

For employers

As an employer or manager, heading off quiet quitting is all about being proactive.

  • Be transparent about job duties from the start: Building a culture that respects employees’ boundaries begins with the hiring process. Ensure job descriptions for every role are clear and comprehensive. Be upfront with potential employees about the growth opportunities and take the time to answer all questions about how this role will help them reach their career goals, including the timeline. 
  • Create open lines of communication: Quiet quitting doesn’t happen overnight, yet many employees don’t feel comfortable expressing their concerns to their managers. Take the time to train managers on how to create a safe environment where employees feel comfortable speaking up.
  • Properly compensate your employees: Often, quiet quitting stems from employees feeling like they’re doing too much work and putting in too much effort for how much they’re being paid. This can be especially true when employees have taken on what’s supposed to be a short-term project that morphs into a permanent increase in job duties.
  • Respect and foster healthy employee boundaries: While much of the onus for setting boundaries falls on the individual employee, managers can help enforce healthy work-life boundaries. Examples include reminding employees that answering calls and emails after business hours is not required or giving employees extra paid personal days after they’ve been putting in extra hours.
  • Fill open positions as quickly as possible: Employees can become disillusioned when they feel like they’re doing more than one person’s job–for only a single salary. Of course, there are times when everyone has to pitch in to cover the day-to-day tasks when a role is open, but do your best to fill these openings quickly, and make it clear to employees the steps you’re taking.

For employees

  • Set (and stick to) boundaries: When you work in a fast-paced and demanding environment, it can be hard to stick to your own work-life balance boundaries, but it’s worth it. Maintain a healthy balance between work and your personal life by avoiding the temptation to answer work calls and emails after hours, and when you’re taking out-of-office time, don’t bring your laptop with you. Instead, leave behind a coverage plan for your team and then depart on your vacation worry-free. 
  • Learn how to say ‘No’ to colleagues and managers: In competitive workplaces, it can be hard to turn down opportunities that come your way. This is especially true in environments where leadership regularly asks for volunteers to take on ad hoc projects. Take the time to set your own internal criteria for evaluating each opportunity: Will this add too much to my already full workload? Does this opportunity advance my career goals? Is it within my skill set? Am I interested in the work? If not, be up front about saying no, and be clear about why it’s not a good fit for you. 
  • Be honest about your own career goals: Not every person’s goal is to climb the corporate ladder and do so at a breakneck speed. Communicate regularly with your manager about your interests, areas of your industry you’d like to explore, and where you’d like to be in a year, or five, or 10. When your manager knows what matters to you, they can better advocate for you.
  • Ask for more money when your job responsibilities change: When it becomes clear that you’re regularly doing more than your job description originally entailed, it’s time to ask for better compensation. Approach the conversation calmly and with proof of the extra work you’ve been taking on. Also, remember that compensation isn’t just about your paycheck. It may also be the perfect time to discuss other forms of recognition, like benefits, shares, perks, and schedule or remote work flexibility.

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