Yep, Another Article About “Quiet Quitting” You Don’t Want to Read But Should!


Just in case you have only just now emerged from your pandemic shelter under your home unaware — we are in the midst of what could be another revolution at work. What is this revolution? It’s “quiet quitting”! Quiet quitting has generated intense media attention, with mass coverage exploring the workplace trend. The buzz surrounding the newly coined concept of ‘quiet quitting’ seems to have struck a resonant chord with many.

Quiet quitting is a term and a trend that emerged in mid-2022 from a viral TikTok video. The movement comes in the wake of the COVID-19 global pandemic that caused employees to reimagine what work could look like if transformed.

There are several definitions and interpretations of ‘quiet quitting’. Part of the challenge lies in the fact that these varying definitions or schools of thought lead to unnecessary confusion and controversy. For the sake of simplicity, I have attempted to distill these varied definitions into two simple schools of thought:

  1. ‘Quiet quitting’ is setting boundaries and doing exactly what the job requires, no more no less, without quitting.
  2. ‘Quiet quitting’ is silently ‘quitting in the job’ without actually quitting and doing just enough work to avoid being fired. (They aren’t outright quitting the job, but quitting the idea of going above and beyond.)

Of note, there is also some sentiment that the ‘quiet quitting’ movement is a rehash of an old, yet persistent, movement of employees that are coasting, clocking in and out while getting the bare minimum done to collect their checks. I do not see the movement being a reflection of this although I am sure many espouse this school of thought who are in the movement nonetheless.

For the first definition, “‘Quiet quitting’ is setting boundaries and doing exactly what the job requires, no more no less, without quitting.”, the school of thought supporting this definition is based on employee sentiment similar to the following:

  • “If I didn’t ‘quiet quit’ my job, I would burn out.”
  • “I could work 24/7 and never get all of my work done.”
  • “No matter how much I hustle in my job, there isn’t a growth system or recognition incentive in place to reward me.”
  • “We’ve had a few people quit or fired in our department and I now have to do their work in addition to my own.”
  • “I am a salaried employee but I am working 60 plus hours a week and burning out along the way.”
  • “I’ve had to set boundaries at work so I don’t burn out or have to work 6–7 days a week to get everything done.”

For the second definition, “‘Quiet quitting’ is silently ‘quitting in the job’ without actually quitting and doing just enough work to avoid being fired.”, employers, management, and critics have adopted the following school of thought:

  • “The employees who ‘quiet quit’ are hurting the company and other employees who are working hard by slacking or giving up.”
  • “‘Quiet quitting’ isn’t just about quitting in a job, it’s a step toward quitting on life.”
  • “Those who are ‘quiet quitting’ are salaried employees being paid to get the work done. How can then say they are not being paid for the work they are doing or feel overworked for doing what they are paid to do?”
  • “The employees who are ‘quiet quitting’ are cheating the company and getting paid to do so.”
  • “We’re all working hard and long hours. That’s just how it is. What would happen if we all ‘quiet quit’?”

No matter which definition you use or the school of thought you support, there is a stigma to them. First off, the use of “quit”, “quitter”, or “quitting” words immediately infers ‘giving up’ or ‘not finishing something. This is a bad first impression to make with the term. It immediately has a negative connotation and perceived value. So, my immediate feedback would be, that the movement faces two primary challenges upfront:

  1. While it is a catchy phrase, ‘quiet quitting’ should be rebranded or renamed to avoid the negative baggage that comes with it. (What business is going to come out and say, “We support our employees in ‘quiet quitting’?” or “We are thankful to our employees who ‘quietly quit’ to send us, their employer, a message about setting proper work boundaries?”
  2. Anytime you ‘quietly quit’ you risk silencing your voice in a company or organization and deprive yourself of the opportunity to change that company.

The challenge remains, as “quiet quitters” defend their choice to take a step back from work, company executives and workplace experts argue that while doing less might feel good in the short term, it could harm careers — and companies — in the long run. Only time will tell if “quiet quitters” will be heard.

About the Author

Bray Brockbank is CMO and VP of Strategy for Brandegy, a specialized brand and digital marketing agency for technology companies. Bray has led marketing efforts for a variety of B2B and B2C SaaS startups and tech enterprises. He has also served as a fractional CMO for several SaaS technology companies.

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