TikTok Trend: Quiet Quitting

November 8, 2022

Right now, quiet quitting is going viral on social media. On TikTok, as well as many other platforms, numerous users are breaking away from the hustle culture and turning themselves into pioneers of the quiet quitting movement.  

Quiet quitting: mentally checked out, but still at your desk?

Quiet quitting isn’t about sneaking quietly out of your job by resigning without fanfare. According to TikTok, where the concept first gained publicity, it’s about abandoning the idea that you have to go “above and beyond for your job”, giving your all and having work come first in your life. Quiet quitting can therefore be seen an expression of disapproval for the hustle culture perpetuated in our society, a culture which glorifies career success and nearly working yourself to death to achieve it. “Work is not your life” is the message quiet quitting wants to spread. Perhaps in itself not truly groundbreaking, because most likely, there have always been some employees in the workforce who have been practicing quiet quitting for some time without defining it as such. They’re at the workplace alongside those who have been indoctrinated in the “work hard, play hard” mentality, like the millennials. Now a new trend has arrived, championed by Gen Z, which is currently sparking some lively debates. 

Work-life balance or the start up world’s nightmare?

So what does quiet quitting actually entail? It’s not, of course, about going to work but not doing your work anymore. Rather, the message is that there’s more to life than work, and personal priorities have to be set accordingly. This includes ensuring that the working day finishes at the proper time and that there’s enough time left over outside of work for family, friends and hobbies. It means that deliberate boundaries should be set between professional and private life. For instance, the laptop is left at the office, emails are only checked during working hours and not read or responded to per mobile phone on the way to work – and any additional tasks not included in the job description are ignored. Although the exact origins of this working philosophy are not easily traceable, it seems to reveal a generational difference in working attitudes. The hustle culture – practically the antithesis of quiet quitting – is very prevalent among the New Work millennials. Lots of overtime, always being on call for work-related issues, engagement at the workplace outside of their particular work duties – that’s all very familiar for this generation.  

Yet hustling hasn’t helped many of them move forward in their careers, and trying to keep up the hustle for an extended period of time proves too stressful. As a result, their personal lives come more to the forefront. Simultaneously, a new generation has entered the job market, one already armed with the awareness that life isn’t just about a great career and earning loads of money. This is a generation that appreciates work with a socially responsible component and a good work-life balance. This generation is genuinely seeking a balance, instead of pursuing the goal of work-life integration, with its promise of an optimal work-life blend with flexible working hours – so flexible that they might even occur after 10 pm or on the weekends. While some are celebrating the quiet quitting philosophy as a revolution in the rally for a true work-life balance, others simply look upon it as evidence that Gen Z has no real desire to work. Okay boomers, here’s another take on that subject! 

New Work solutions: how can companies react?

Quiet quitting is not only an opportunity for employees to ponder their situation, but for their employers as well. Companies should note the emergence of this philosophy and consider rethinking their structures. Just a few years ago, the New Work movement became the impetus for more work-life blend, more individuality and flexibility. Businesses responded by adapting their employee-related procedures and structures accordingly. Will all this still be relevant if the quiet quitting trend becomes a serious contender? If employees are no longer willing to put in overtime voluntarily, or to put together a pitch deck at midnight or over the weekend to show how dedicated they are to their jobs, will startups just begin to crumble? Sometimes there’s no better time than the present – and right now might be a great time for companies to reposition themselves and create future-oriented structures, focusing on:

  • Fair pay instead of benefits overload: Many companies are still wooing employees with lots of benefits instead of a fair salary. However, employees which are not being properly paid have an understandably lower level of motivation. And let’s be honest: how much free fruit and mate would an employee have to consume for the sum to match up to a fair salary?
  • More appreciation: Being valued as an employee not only means receiving fair pay. The corporate culture of the company itself is significant. It should not only appreciate employees who take on responsibilities beyond their job duties, but also respect the individuality and unique talents of each member of its workforce. 
  • More employee wellbeing: Make life-work balance options available without disadvantages – there should be no trade-off here. An employee engaging in mobile working isn’t a colleague that’s always on call. Flexible working hours don’t mean that emails have to be answered at 10 pm!

Quiet quitting is making a statement for setting boundaries in the workplace. However, if open discussions between employers and employees become the norm, fewer workers would feel the need to silently resign from their jobs.