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‘Quiet Quitting’: Setting Boundaries vs Checking Out

Recently, a trend coined by social media as ‘quiet quitting’ swept the internet…

In a nutshell, the concept refers to the idea of rejecting the so-called ‘hustle’ culture by reducing your input in the workplace to the minimum required, refusing to take on additional work, and simply fulfilling the specifications of your job description. The thought process behind this trend is that the act of ‘quiet quitting’ can help to reduce burnout, set healthy professional boundaries, and help employees regain a healthy sense of work-life balance.

But, with all of this being said, the rising prevalence and discourse surrounding this trend is highly contentious, with many in the social media sphere and beyond hotly debating the issue and contesting its plausibility. Perhaps because of the negative connotations of the term itself, many are outraged by the concept of those who are choosing to simply do the bare minimum needed and coast along in order to retain their position and pay packet.

So, on one side of the debate, there are those arguing that feeling the desire to ‘quiet quit’ actually signifies that you should simply quit altogether rather than mentally check out of your role. On the other, though, are the voices who suggest that, by opting for the option to ‘quiet quit’, they are reclaiming their personal lives and protecting themselves from long-term burnout.


Blurred Lines

The positive impact of the pandemic was the rising popularity of flexibility, hybrid, and fully remote working. This opened the door for countless professionals by allowing them to return to the workplace, or to be able to enjoy a better quality of work-life balance as a result of these changes. Equally, for many companies these changes offered the opportunity to build a positive working culture with increased mutual trust and benefits.

However, with all of that being said, the flipside to the positive impacts were the negative, in that many workers worldwide found the lines between their professional and personal lives had become blurred, resulting in an increase in professional fatigue, burnout, and a lack of distinction between their home life and their work. When your living space becomes your office overnight, it’s easy to see why many found the enforced thrust of homeworking upon them an unwelcome challenge. As well as this, a third of employees claim that their job has become harder after the pandemic, which perhaps contributes to the desire to disengage entirely from a role that is overburdening them.

In fact, the very concept of ‘quiet quitting’ is thought to have stemmed from the mass reassessment of priorities that the majority of the global workforce underwent as a result of the pandemic, which forced people to take a step back and look at their professional and personal life and judge whether they were truly balanced.


Setting boundaries, or checking out?

Undoubtedly, there is a big difference between setting healthy, professional boundaries in the workplace and disengaging from your role altogether, and herein lies the crux of the debate on the ‘quiet quitting’ concept.

Being asked to go ‘above and beyond’ in your role can reasonably be expected every now and again. But, when this becomes a common theme and a regular expectation in your workplace, it may be time to consider whether conversations need to be had around the demands of your role and whether or not they are reasonable or tenable. If you are always expected to go above and beyond, it simply becomes the norm, and it can no longer be classed as going ‘above and beyond’. This only serves to standardise burnout in the workplace and could be indicative of an issue with communication and workload allocation. It could be that, by highlighting the issue and engaging in open and honest discussions around it, your workplace could make changes to accommodate your needs better: for example, offering enhanced benefits, a pay rise, or clearer progression opportunities. However, it could also be true that the culture of the company simply no longer aligns with your own way of working, and this could be the underlying cause of the desire to ‘quiet quit’ and ultimately check out mentally.


To Quiet Quit, or Quit?

The emergence of the ‘quiet quitting’ trend is, in itself, an indicator that job dissatisfaction levels of professionals in the current market are high. In fact, a recent study found that more than a third of UK professionals are unhappy in their current roles.

Ultimately, ‘quiet quitting’ will never result in a level of job satisfaction that will lead to a happy and high quality of life. When you consider that professionals spend around a third of their lifetime at work, many would agree that it’s vital to be employed in a role that you feel invested and engaged in. And, although in the current market, it might feel like salary is the key and deciding factor, recent polling has found that, in reality, 64% of British workers would rather have a low-paid job they loved, than a high-paid job which they did not enjoy.

Ultimately, the decision to ‘stick or twist’ will always come down to the individual. But it’s important for individuals to understand the options open to them: for employees who resonate with the ‘quiet quitting’ concept, it might be time to consider what alternative routes are available. In the current market, with an abundance of opportunities available, there is no real reason not to reach out and discover a role that both reignites your professional passion and equally offers a more suitable culture fit that allows you a healthy balance between your priorities. For businesses, it’s time to reassess whether your current working practices and models are working for both you and your employees: the prevalence of the ‘quiet quitting’ concept isn’t something you should ignore, and overloaded or unsatisfied individuals are unlikely to remain in situ for much longer.

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