It’s not quiet quitting if you don’t shut up about it

·3-min read
 (iStock)
(iStock)

“Quiet quitting” – the idea of slowly winding down from overworking – has generated intense media attention of late. But is it about time we “shut up” about this misnomer?

The phrase was first popualrised on TikTok in a video made by the aptly named @zkchillin in July 2022.

The somewhat whimsical clip, which has amassed an impressive 486,000 views on the social media platform, tells users: “You’re not outright quitting your job, but you’re quitting the idea of going above and beyond.

“You’re still performing your duties, but you’re no longer subscribing to the hustle-culture mentality that work has to be your life; the reality is it’s not, and your worth as a person is not defined by your labour.”

As is TikTok’s wont, the craze was initially subject to glowing praise among online communities – “I’m feeling like this movement should have a flag,” one commenter posed – before people began to tire.

“Is it still quiet quitting if no one will shut up about it[?]” as one Twitter user asked.

Taking the call to muzzle the “bulls**t term” one step further, another user told the story of “Andrew”: “I knew a guy that didn’t come to work for two months and then came to a pizza party. He got pizza and left before his boss could talk to him.

“So shut up about quiet quitting unless you are as cool as Andrew.”

But the distaste for the word runs deeper than irritation, with many arguing that it negatively miscasts stepping back from overworking in order to prioritise your wellbeing.

“‘Quiet Quitting’ is one of the more toxic forms of business double speak I’ve heard in a while,” one Twitter user said.

“Essentially it is a renaming of the concept of ‘Work-Life Balance’ in order to give it a negative connotation. A linguistic gymnastic to discourage personal lives and favor productivity

“Someone thought ‘the people doing the minimum seem to be the ones quitting, they are a problem.’ They are doing the minimum because the office work culture is terrible. If it’s happening so much that you feel the need to create a term for it, then the problem is the environment.”

On a similar tack, a second user wrote: “The way quiet quitting, which is a misnomer for maintaining firm boundaries at work for a healthier personal life, is presented as a radical concept is so bleak to me.”

The concept behind “quiet quitting” is nothing new, however.

“Although this has come from a younger generation and in new packaging, this trend has been studied under different names for decades: disengagement, neglect, withdrawal,” Anthony Klotz, associate professor at University of College London’s School of Management, told the BBC.

Whether you like the term or not, the idea not always going above and beyond is an attractive one to many, particularly when there is “little reward for doing”.

“Quiet quitting doesn’t just speak to younger generations – it’s anyone who has ever felt stuck in a job but has little reason to resign,” Klotz adds.