Unless you live under a social media rock, you would have heard of the phenomenon “quiet quitting” becoming the newest workplace trend with young people leading the movement of stopping the expectation that your job should take priority over your own wellbeing. While you don’t actually quit your job at all it promotes “quitting the idea of going above and beyond” while still carrying out your duties that are expected from you. It also represents a wider shift since the pandemic of careers being a shrinking priority in people’s lives, instead they are making room for things like family, friends and hobbies which contribute more to an employee’s wellbeing and happiness.
Quiet quitting isn’t new, having been around for decades taking on different aliases across the years such as “coasting”, “disengagement and “withdrawal” but the question remains as to why it has struck such a nerve with young workers recently, causing “quiet quitting” to become a global phenomenon? Is it actually accomplishing what we think it is or is it doing the opposite failing to encourage employees to discuss their struggles openly with management? Is this movement actually contributing to the conversation surrounding the connection between poor working environments and an employee’s mental wellbeing?
Quiet quitting took off in June 22 following a viral TikTok after increased conversations surrounding mental health tied to the Covid-19 pandemic. It promotes a number of important things including drawing firm work boundaries, saying no to unpaid overtime work and ensuring the job description you signed up for is staying relevant and true.
However, the name itself, all be it catchy, alludes to a problem in workplaces that isn’t being solved through trends like “quiet quitting”. It is critical for employees to feel comfortable enough to speak to their bosses about issues like burnout and mental health and openly share any struggles relating to work that they are experiencing. Why should we be encouraging employees to stay “quiet” instead of normalising these discussions with the leaders of our own workplaces? A young person (or anyone!) who demonstrates open dialogue with their boss about their concerns, will be more likely to contribute to transforming their workplace into a more positive environment for everyone. Setting boundaries is important, but communicating them properly to management is just as meaningful and a part of a normal healthy working relationship which must be founded on two way dialogue and respect.
We talked to our HR expert, Katriina Tahka into her perspective on “quiet quitting” and what Aussie employers and employees should be taking away from this trending topic and the universal reach it has, resonating with millions of workers across the globe. “There is an abundance of research confirming that one of the biggest impacts of Covid on people’s work and career progression has been disconnection from the workplace and ‘invisibility’. Sliding off the radar is not good for your career nor your health and wellbeing. The opposite of ‘quiet quitting’ is actually very healthy for workplace culture and your own wellbeing. Engaging in a constructive conversation about what is working well and not so well will produce a much more positive outcome. We’ve seen a lot of toxic cultures come under the microscope recently, only because brave people spoke up and called out behaviours that were not acceptable. That’s the sort of impact you can achieve by talking about issues before they escalate”.
It is a good thing that people are sharing their strategies for overcoming stressful workplaces and burnout which many encounter over the course of their careers. However, it is important that we don’t promote workers to handle these situations alone and instead guide them towards open conversations with their managers, leaders, or HR departments to ensure changes in their working environment are long term and beneficial for the future or current employees entering that same environment.