I have to admit that when the concept of “Quiet Quitting” hit the mainstream, I considered it a way that younger generations (I’m firmly Gen X) were naming their entitlement. If you’ve not heard this term, first get someone to lift the rock you are living under, and then watch this little clip from TikTok. Simply put…it is the idea that employees are not quitting their job, but instead quitting the idea of going above and beyond.
So a couple thoughts on Quiet Quitting…
- First and foremost, the discussion of quiet quitting is one that is mostly being had by white collar and office workers. There is a strong element of privilege playing out in this conversation. Said another way, some jobs require such diligence that only doing the bare minimum won’t keep people safe. Entire groups of people in the world work to put food on the table for TODAY…they are not working to find fulfillment or until they figure out what they are passionate about. They are working so that they and the people they are responsible for can eat. So this knowledge should underpin the rest of my comments and the discussion as a whole.
- Every human has the right to boundaries. You get to set the fence-line for your work, family, and friends and then be the keeper of the gate that gives access to you and to your time. If you were raised in a home where boundaries were either not set or not honored, it can be hard to learn this. But that doesn’t change that it is your responsibility to teach others how to treat you. Also it doesn’t change that others may not respond well to your boundaries. Boundaries have consequences, and yet we should still set them and enforce them. This includes doing this in our places of work.
- If you don’t like what you do for work, stop doing it. Before you say something…yes, I know that you may not be financially able to just quit your job today. Got it. However, what step can you take today that will start leading you to do something you are passionate about? Research? Talk to a coach? Look into some certification programs? Talk to people who have jobs you find fascinating? I’m not going to say that this is easy…but YOU are the only one who can start down the road towards your own happiness. The fact that you haven’t done that yet, is not your employers fault. So go ahead and “quiet quit”, but get a damn plan for what you want.
- Another comment about privilege…this time white privilege specifically. Most under-represented groups do not have the luxury of quiet quitting. Many women, people of color, and those in the LGBTQIA+ community have heard at some point that they will need to work “twice as hard to get half as much” as others. Therefore, quiet quitting is not an option if they want to grow a career at all or even keep up with the promotions or raise of mediocre performing counterparts. Don’t believe me? Read this fascinating article.
- On a personal note, over the past few years younger tech professionals have asked me how I got to this place in my career. My answer is always pretty much the same…a helluva lot of hustle, a couple great mentors/champions, and saying “yes” to opportunities that came my way. I worked HARD to get to this place. I sure as hell didn’t get here by doing only what was in my job description. And yes, that has meant sacrifice and walking right to the edge of burnout on a few occasions (which is when boundaries become even more important). But it has also meant being extended new challenges because those who give out challenges saw my willingness and desire for more responsibility.
Boundaries, choices, tradeoffs, consequences, outcomes.
Quiet Quitting is fine…but you do not get to complain when you are not rewarded the same as those who choose above and beyond. Hustling is also fine…but you will be exhausted sometimes and wonder if it’s all worth it…and maybe it’s not. Only you can decide.
Note for Leaders – Build a culture that enables people to be passionate about what they do without asking them to break themselves down physically and mentally to serve you or your OKRs. Help team members build healthy boundaries. Set a good example and mirror healthy behaviors. Afterall, you are running a marathon not a sprint and you need good runners.