Quiet quitting may not be the antidote some people thought it could be
iStock / dusanpetkovic
As workplace trends go, quiet quitting has proven perhaps the most alluring for stressed-out, overworked employees in recent years.
It’s no surprise. UK wages have been stagnant since the 2008 financial crisis, according to the Trades Union Congress, while the work-from-home trend of the pandemic has blurred the lines between work and free time.
But while the movement has been touted as a way for workers to empower themselves and redraw those boundaries between work and play, a new report coming out of Australia has found it is not quite the antidote people thought.
While the movement started out as an empowering way for employees to reset work and home boundaries eroded by the pandemic, the reality is that quiet quitting is proving to be more of a placebo than a tonic.
A survey by news outlet news.com.au found that one-in-10 respondents are actively quiet quitting right now. It also found that of those who were doing it, 32 per cent of people said they were less productive when working from home, compared to 21 per cent who said they were more productive.
That may not necessarily be a bad thing in itself – but a behavioural scientist from market research firm Gartner says it is making people miserable.
Aaron McEwan wrote in the news outlet: “Not only is it boring and a waste of your time, the fear of being caught or labelled a slacker just adds to anxiety levels.
“Being seen as disengaged from your work and the company culture can also negatively impact your reputation, limiting future opportunities such as training, bonuses, or promotions that you may be interested in.”
The idea behind quiet quitting isn’t so much that you are lazy. It is more about pushing back on your manager if they are being too demanding – and that takes courage.
But McEwan says this is not a viable solution. “Ultimately it will eat into your sense of self-worth and long-term employability.”
Instead, he says, it is better to “have a frank conversation with your manager and negotiate real changes to your working requirements”.
“For some workers, an honest discussion with their manager may lead to a complete re-scope of their role.
“Whether it is reducing hours, considering job-sharing, or even opting for a voluntary demotion – shaping your work to better suit your needs will benefit both you and your employer.”
Of course, speaking to your manager in an open and honest way isn’t an option for many – and quiet quitting is still a pretty good option in the short term if you’re being asked to do way too much.
In the long run, however, McEwan writes that seeking more flexibility is the way forward for people who feel downtrodden with too much work, or unreasonable demands.
“When organisations offer workers radical flexibility, or more simply, the ability to choose when, where and how they work, employees are happier and performance improves because they have a sense of autonomy, without the added risk of burnout.”