It may be an exaggeration to say how tectonic changes are taking place in the labor market and in the relationship to work, but even those who are not overly interested in this topic have probably come across the term “Quiet Quitting” in the last month or two. The whole thing originated on TikTok, where #quietquitting currently has over 238.6 million views.
The TikTok video that started the discussion about the “Quiet Quitting” trend
On quiet quitting #workreform
“Quiet Quitting” embodies the idea that employees do only what is in their job description and within their working hours. In addition to leaving the workplace at the time when working hours officially end, this also means not checking e-mail and answering phone calls after work. It also means not engaging in any business-related activities outside of those frameworks. One of the explanations for this trend is the abandonment of the so-called “hustle” culture that implies very hard work, high ambition, orientation towards achieving goals and a lot of sacrifices.
While some characterize this behavior as passive aggressive, others see nothing wrong with wanting a better balance between work and private life. By itself, setting healthy boundaries and insisting on clarity shouldn’t be a problem. The fact is that there are a number of organizations, even entire industries (for example creative and communication), in which overtime work and availability 24 hours a day, seven days a week are something that is quite normal. However, the problem is even more complex because everyone has subjective expectations from work and the employer, and a vision of how well they perform tasks at their workplace and create the foundations for progress, both personal and organizational.
While it could be argued that this phenomenon is nothing new, but just a new name for something that has existed since working for an employer, it is better to focus attention on the causes of this behavior. Without over analyzing, “Quiet Quitting” can be understood as a signal that something is not right somewhere. Assuming that each employee at a given moment chose a job that they knew and wanted to do and an employer that they perceived as desirable, the attitude towards work probably did not deteriorate by itself over time. It is a legitimate question whether the relationship of respect and investment is mutual. Also, whether the employer’s needs are much more represented than the employee’s.
One of the causes can be the burnout syndrome at work. Also, there is more and more talk about the phenomenon called “Quiet Firing” as the main culprit for “Quiet Quitting”. In short, it is about the employer giving up on the employee in different ways. How? By not providing feedback on work, not giving an opportunity for professional advancement, not adequately rewarding employee engagement, even excluding him from communication and projects. Consequently, a toxic work environment results in demotivation, frustration and disengagement. However, here too, the objective question is the chicken or the egg, i.e. whether the first behavior always leads to the second or vice versa.
Quiet quitting that results with the employee mentally detaching from the collective and insisting on strict boundaries is not good for either side. Especially in small organizations where teams and job descriptions are very often flexible or with projects where it is difficult to predict all possible scenarios. Behavior that goes to extremes is disastrous for organizational culture, teamwork, the feeling that work is valued and recognized and that the same rules apply to everyone.
From the employee’s perspective, quietly quitting may also mean giving up on the good sides of work. Such examples are socializing with colleagues, solving problems together, and growing through certain situations and challenges that would most likely not be encountered in strictly defined task frameworks. In the long term, this means that their space for professional and personal development will most likely be narrowed. Also, their competencies will be limited. Organizations that build their competitive advantage on the creative and intellectual output of their employees need to deal with this in particular.
The challenges of working with people don’t get any easier, but the recipe for success never gets old. The beginning of everything is the will on both sides, continuous open communication and a clear recognition of what each party invests in the relationship and how much they get back from that relationship. As the environment in which we live and work becomes more and more complex, the expectations from employers are increasing, but the responsibility also lies with the employees.
For organizations that want to remain quality environments, the most important message is that problems need to be tackled on time. Introducing new practices, investing in quality management of developing and engaging people, and the changes that this brings do not have to be insurmountable obstacles. Those can be challenges that can be successfully solved with timely, considerate and clear communication.
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