- "Quiet quitting" refers to the subtle ways in which people disengage from their work and slowly start to check out.
- Key signs of quiet quitting include a decline in motivation, enthusiasm, and quality of work, as well as a decreased engagement with colleagues.
- Quiet quitting creates opportunities for others to step up in the workplace and for resetting social norms around overworking and burnout.
Are you feeling burnt out and overwhelmed at work? You're not alone. In fact, research shows that burnout is becoming increasingly common among young professionals, with many people silently struggling to keep up with the demands of their jobs. This has led to a new phenomenon known as "quiet quitting," which refers to the subtle ways in which people disengage from their work and slowly start to check out, even while continuing to show up and go through the motions. This emerging trend has potentially widespread implications for the future of work, how people interact with their jobs, and what we see as an acceptable balance between work and home life.
The Characteristics of a Quiet Quitter
So how do you know if someone is quietly quitting? There are a few tell-tale signs to look out for in the workplace. You might notice that an employee who used to be highly engaged and motivated in their job suddenly becomes less interested in what they are doing. They might seem less enthusiastic about their work or less willing to take on new challenges or projects. They complete their core tasks but nothing more. Even here, though, you might notice that they start to miss deadlines or make mistakes that they wouldn't normally make.
Another key sign of quiet quitting is a decline in the quality of work. Someone who is quietly quitting might start to produce subpar work in comparison to what they have historically produced, or they might be less willing to put in the extra effort needed to meet the high standards of their job. Each of these traits indicates a lack of investment. They're turning up to work, but the effort that they are expending is minimal.
A quiet quitter might also become more disengaged from their colleagues and less willing to collaborate or communicate with others. You might notice them withdrawing from social situations. Where they once attended social gatherings and seasonal parties, they now avoid these. You may see them less in the break room and find that they are increasingly quiet in meetings.
Supporting Somebody Who Is Quietly Quitting
So what can you do if you suspect someone is quietly quitting? First and foremost, it's important to offer support and help them find ways to address the underlying causes of their burnout. Give them a space to talk about their feelings of burnout, and help them to identify the underlying causes. You may not be qualified or in a position to actively change their schedule, but having a safe space to discuss any worries is likely to help.
Consider engaging them in some informal coaching. This need not be formalized but can involve helping them to think through how they might prioritize their workload, set boundaries around their time, or find ways to reduce their stress levels. Finally, encourage them to take breaks and make time for activities that bring them joy and relaxation, such as exercise, hobbies, or spending time with loved ones. By taking these steps, you can help your friend or colleague to overcome burnout and find a healthier, more sustainable work-life balance.
Can You Benefit From the Quiet Quitting Trend?
Despite the negative causes of quiet quitting among burnt-out colleagues, there are also some opportunities to be found in situations where people are engaging in these behaviors. For one, it can create opportunities for others to step up and be seen as more productive in the workplace. If people are quietly quitting all around you, maintaining your usual level of output will make you a stand-out member of your team. Alongside this, adopting a mentoring role to help those experiencing burnout also allows you to demonstrate leadership capabilities that may place you in a favorable position when seeking promotion opportunities.
Most importantly, though, if enough people engage in quiet quitting, this trend may provide a chance to reset social norms around overworking and burnout and to find more sustainable ways of working that prioritize the well-being of all employees. Bosses will simply have to take note if their workers are unable to keep up with the demands of previous years, which provides an opportunity for an organization-wide discussion about what work should look like, what is reasonable, and how people can be supported to produce high-quality work in a sustainable way.
Create a More Sustainable Working Life
So if you're feeling burnt out and overwhelmed, or if you suspect that someone you work with might be quietly quitting, don't despair. There are ways to address and overcome burnout, and opportunities can be found in these challenging circumstances. By taking steps to support and empower each other, we can create a more sustainable and healthy work environment for all.
Formica, S., & Sfodera, F. (2022). The great resignation and quiet quitting paradigm shifts: An overview of current situation and future research directions. Journal of Hospitality Marketing & Management, 31(8), 899-907. https://doi.org/10.1080/19368623.2022.2136601