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Let’s quit saying “quiet quitting”


The term “quiet quitting” has taken the internet by storm in the last couple of years. As workers reevaluate going above and beyond in their roles or exceeding expectations, they’re being labeled as quiet quitters who are doing the minimum job requirements but nothing more. 

While naming workforce trends can be helpful to identify needs and challenges for the labor market, it’s also important to recognize that our choice of words matter when it comes to our people. 

So is the phenomenon of quiet quitting helpful or harmful? Here’s why we think it’s time to leave this phrase in the past:

What is quiet quitting?

Quiet quitting is the term used to describe the perception of employees ​​putting in the minimum requirements of their role and no more effort or enthusiasm than necessary — essentially assumed to be “quitting” without actually resigning. 

Coined by TikTok career coach Bryan Creely in spring 2022, the term quickly spread online and then into everyday language. The conversations happening online around setting boundaries at work and knowing your worth have further fueled a wave of workers pushing back against the idea that you should give your all at work — leading to a noticeable shift in employee engagement.

Along with the term quiet quitting comes “loud quitting,” which is used to describe the perception of workers being actively disengaged and outspoken about their dissatisfaction.

Both quiet and loud quitting aren’t a sign of laziness or resentment that many people assume — they’re signs of a deeper issue. 

Why should we stop saying it?

When we start to label burnout as anything other than what it is — a lack of boundaries or needs being met — then it shifts responsibility to the employees to have their needs met in the workplace. The idea of quiet and loud quitting implies a disgruntled employee rather than a human being asking for the bare minimum at their job. Whether it’s an issue of not being paid enough, having too many responsibilities for one role, or a lack of work-life balance, workers are rightfully done going above and beyond without getting adequate support from employers. 

Even Creely, the creator of the phrase, has disagreed with the negative connotation now associated with it, saying quiet quitters are “misunderstood.”

“It’s not being lazy or doing poor work,” Creely says in Insider. “Quiet quitting is about restoring a healthy balance in your career and work. In other words, you’re doing exactly what you’re paid to do and establishing firm boundaries.”

Instead of pointing the finger to workers and labeling someone who is still performing their core responsibilities as a “quiet quitter,” let’s take a different approach: One in which employers see themselves on the same team as their employees and want to cultivate a company culture where everyone can thrive. 

Take a different approach

If you’re noticing a trend of employee disengagement, signs of burnout, or simply sticking to core responsibilities, it’s time to get curious, not judgmental. Bottom line is, employees who are still performing required job duties should not be called quitters. 

Here are a few suggestions to help disengaged employees feel seen and valued:

  • Get clear about job roles. When responsibilities and expectations are clearly defined, everyone is better off. If the job posting they were hired with is the only time their responsibilities have been written out, it could be time for a refresher during your next one-on-one.
  • Stop expecting extra. When employees are already spending the majority of their days either at the office or working remotely, the last thing they want is a forced after-hours hangout. While it can be tempting to initiate “team bonding” in the form of happy hour outings, break room parties, or retreats, reconsider what you’re asking of your people and respect their time and desire for space. Plenty of connection opportunities can happen within the agreed upon working hours.
  • Listen with action. Asking for regular feedback from your team only works if you’re also implementing that feedback. Ensure you’re not only creating an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their experiences, but that you’re also taking their concerns and needs seriously. 
  • Push back against “hustle” culture. The idea that employees need to be going above and beyond, staying late at the office, or performing duties that are not in their job description is not only outdated, but also actively harmful. A recent study shows 38 hours per week is the ideal amount of hours for productivity — anything more could be hurting productivity. Hustle is what drives burnout. 
    • P.S. To read more about the shift in workplace culture to a more flexible, employee-focused approach, check out our blog from last month.

Let’s stop seeing burnout and disengagement as an issue with employees and more as motivation to do better by them. People deserve to work in an environment that cares about them, period.