A new workplace phenomenon called “quiet quitting” is gaining traction, with a report by global analytics and advisory firm Gallup indicating that the majority of the world’s workforce (nearly six in ten employees) are falling into this category.

But what exactly is quiet quitting, and why are so many employees embracing it?

What is ‘quiet quitting’?

Quiet quitting doesn’t mean quitting your job. It’s about employees doing the bare minimum that their job requires. These workers are rejecting the culture of overwork and burnout by fulfilling their job descriptions but not taking on any additional tasks or responsibilities without extra compensation.

In Gallup’s 2023 report — which identifies quiet quitting as a major trend — it’s described as “what happens when someone psychologically disengages from work”. Employees may be physically present or logged on, but they don’t know why it matters, and “they don’t have any supportive bonds with their coworkers, boss or organisation.”

Why is it happening?

Several factors are contributing to this trend. First, the pandemic significantly altered our perspectives on work-life balance. Employees are increasingly valuing personal time and wellbeing over climbing the corporate ladder. The rise of remote work has also blurred the lines between professional and personal life, prompting workers to reassess their priorities.

Secondly, there’s a growing disillusionment with the hustle culture. Many employees feel overworked and underappreciated, leading them to push back against expectations that extend beyond their official duties. Quiet quitting is their way of saying, “I’m here to do my job, but I’m not sacrificing my health or personal life for it.”

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A 2021 survey by LinkedIn found that 74% of professionals believe work-life balance is the most important factor when considering job opportunities, while ‘The Great Resignation’ — a phenomenon where millions of employees worldwide quit their jobs post-pandemic — highlighted a significant shift in priorities.

Is it more prevalent among certain age groups?

Younger generations are leading the charge against hustle culture. Studies show that Millennials and Gen Z value experiences, personal time, and mental health more than previous generations. They are less likely to sacrifice their wellbeing for their careers and more likely to seek employers that offer supportive and flexible work environments.

What’s the impact on businesses?

For employers, quiet quitting presents both challenges and opportunities. On the one hand, it can signal disengagement and reduced productivity, impacting overall business performance. On the other hand, it’s a wake-up call for companies to reevaluate their work cultures. By fostering an environment that respects boundaries and promotes work-life balance, businesses can enhance employee satisfaction and retention.

How can businesses address the trend?

So, how can businesses respond to this trend effectively?

  1. Promote a healthy work culture: Encourage employees to take breaks, use their annual leave, and disconnect after work hours.
  2. Recognise and reward effort: Ensure that extra efforts are acknowledged and compensated appropriately.
  3. Open communication channels: Regularly check in with employees to understand their concerns and aspirations.

In summary, quiet quitting is more than a passing trend; it’s a signal that the workforce is seeking sustainable and healthy work environments.

By recognising and addressing the root causes, businesses can turn this challenge into an opportunity for growth and improvement, ultimately fostering a more engaged and satisfied workforce.

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