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Quiet quitting: Is it just a trend?

Işınsu Unaran

As we have seen with the infamous article by Times titled “Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation”, those who stick to older traditions have an inclination to depreciate the contemporary mode of thinking. Calling quiet quitting “a trend” is no different. Quiet quitting, or rather what it stands for, is nothing new. Throughout history, the circumstances of workers and what is expected of them as opposed to their wages has been a topic of discussion. In this instance, we are just seeing a new generation vocalize their worries about how they work.

What is quiet quitting?

First named by Bryan Creely, a Gen X’er, on YouTube and TikTok, “quiet quitting” can be defined as simply meeting the minimum expectations of one’s job, and refusing to go beyond or do any extra work. To clarify: this is an attitude towards work, not actually quitting a job.This attitude is very much reflective of the effect the pandemic had on the working world. People around the world were pushed to evaluate their lives by this sudden change, and this evaluation extended to include their work lives. This is also the reason why we are having discussions about work-life balance today. The financial strain put on the workers around the world led people to analyze if they are being compensated enough for the work they do, and many found that they were not. So, they decided to stop exhausting themselves unnecessarily at work and instead chose to focus on their lives outside of work and their loved ones.

Is it fair to call this “quitting”?

Maybe not. NPR found some interesting alternatives for naming this phenomenon when they interviewed workers around the world. These include:

  • Acting your wage
  • Reverse hustle
  • Doing your job
  • Morale-adjusted productivity

These alternatives give us a fairer view into what is actually going on. “Quiet quitters” aren’t lazy, they aren’t committing time theft or getting paid to do nothing. This is more of a reaction against the harmful effects of hustle culture, in which working non-stop to the point of burnout is promoted, glamorized and seen as necessary to thrive in life.

Different points of view

Browsing the many articles published on the subject, we can see how quiet quitting means different things for different people. The most glaring difference in opinion is unsurprisingly between workers and companies. While employees regard this movement as a healthier, and more just approach to work, some companies and high-ranking employers consider it as a threat to the productivity of their business.


In their survey among the US workforce, Gallup found 50% of the workers in the United States to be “quiet quitters”. However, to avoid misunderstanding, we must highlight that this statistic does not mean a percentage of employees suddenly gave up on their career because of a social media trend. This actually reflects a decline of engagement in the workforce, which accelerated in the latter half of 2021. This has many causes, however, the effects of the pandemic are at the core.The inadequate response to the circumstances of the pandemic was one of the earlier reasons why workers became disappointed with their companies. The move to remote work proved that many jobs, in fact, were able to be conducted out-of-office, independent of location. The pandemic also highlighted the lack of benefits offered by companies; such as inadequate health insurance coverage or lack of resources for mental health support. Workers faced with the fact that they are uncared for in their companies and weren’t compensated enough for their efforts. This is why the popularity of this attitude coincides with the Great Resignation.Among the reasons why workers embraced “quiet quitting” were the refusal for a pay raise despite the increasing workload during the heights of the pandemic. Another reason was simply questioning the boundaries regarding work life; workers claiming their off-hours back and refusing to be monitored by their companies in the virtual realm.


Ariana Huffington, CEO and founder at Thrive, made a LinkedIn post urging workers to reject the idea of quiet quitting, and expressed the attitude to be harmful to their own lives. She wrote, “Quiet quitting isn’t just about quitting on a job, it’s a step toward quitting on life.” She later goes on to say that instead of doing the bare minimum (let us be honest, the actual requirements of a job) people should quit a job they’re not satisfied with, and find another that brings them joy. Unfortunately, this narrative does not take into account the big percentage of the workforce that cannot afford to do so.Somewhat disregarding the reality of workers moving away from the idea of finding the meaning of their lives in their work, some companies are worried that their employees won’t be enthusiastic about their jobs and give up on chasing productivity.

Women, people of color and the working class

It is very clear, upon reading articles other than those featuring provocative titles, that not everyone can afford to “quit quietly". One part of the population that is included in this group is the working class. NPR’s article features James Holverstott, a laborer, who gives his opinion by saying;

“The idea that 'quiet quitting' fits any jobs besides ones laden with keyboard strokes, spreadsheets, and meetings is patently foolish. It feels like more of a realization by people who have been more than happy to work 24/7/365 to chase the almighty dollar that their lives are being wasted in the pursuit of more stuff, and now they are presenting some laughable notion of 'I just realized I work too much, but luckily I can afford to do less because no one will notice anyway!' as somehow a paradigm shift in worker's rights.”

Another class that cannot afford to embrace this attitude is women, and people of color. Women in offices are more likely to be tasked with things that won’t elevate their skills, and people of color are more likely to be branded as “troublesome” if they raise any concerns about their work. These communities don’t have the financial stability to take any attitude towards work other than doing their best and hoping their employers compensate them for their efforts.

What can companies do to retain and motivate their employees?

Conversations around “quiet quitting” usually end up with the same conclusion; that this is the result of poor management. Companies that are not built around the idea that all their employees must go above and beyond their position and wages are scrambling to find out what they can do to properly address this. We have some suggestions:

  1. Meaningful engagement with employees: In order to avoid an unexpected decline in motivation at work, keep in touch with your employees. Ask them what they think of their work, their expectations and their needs. Most importantly, take action upon their answers. Show them that you value their work and their contributions to your company by celebrating their efforts in a solid, tangible way.
  2. Protect their voices: Don’t forget that “quiet” is half of the “quiet quitting”. If your employees don’t feel like they won’t be heard, or be reprimanded if they speak up, they simply won’t. Create an environment at work where they are allowed to voice their concerns and demand what they need. Discouraging employees to talk amongst themselves about their concerns won’t keep them from disengaging; it will only make it quieter.
  3. Accept the “new normal”: Remote work entered our lives once, and no matter what you do, you won’t be able to make your employees return to office if they’ve seen they can do their jobs perfectly in a remote location. Suddenly asking for them to come back to the office without a good reason is not a good idea. Offer flexibility in your working culture. Accept that the modern culture values work-life balance much more than before, and transform your company values accordingly.

The future of work will be defined by autonomy

Every recent movement in the modern work culture highlights the importance of autonomy: The freedom to choose, govern and rule all aspects of our lives according to our needs and wishes. Quiet quitting is no different. It’s simply an attitude towards work where workers realize that they don’t have to wear themselves out if they don’t find meaning in their work. We at Ruul fully support everyone’s choice to claim their autonomy, be it freelancers or organizations adjusting themselves to the modern understanding of work. Register now and check out our features with which you can safely and easily work with anyone across the world.


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