What is "Quiet Quitting"? And Why It's Trending on Social Media
Date of publish: 06/11/2022
Have you ever had a job where you came in, kept your head down for eight hours, and left? No putting in extra hours to complete a project or volunteering for tasks beyond your workload. This is what Millennials and Gen Z call the quiet exit. Find out why it's trending on social media and how companies should address it.
What is silent termination?
Silent Weaning is a term coined on TikTok in a video by content creator Zaiad Khan. In the video, which currently has 3.5 million views, the Tiktoker explains what quiet quitting is: Rejecting the hustle culture and regaining your work-life balance.
Shortly after, other TikTok users shared their thoughts and experiences with silent quitting, with the hashtag now garnering a total of 97.6 million video views.
So even though the term includes the word "terminate," it actually has nothing to do with it.
Confusing, I know. When I thought of a quiet exit, I imagined employees slowly backing away from their desks and slinking out of the building Homer Simpson-style, never to be seen again.
Instead, quiet withdrawal involves completing your work duties without going above and beyond. It looks like signing off at 5pm, not looking for other tasks or projects, and taking regular time off.
For some quiet ones who give up, it is a form of rebellion. For others, it's a strange term to describe something they've been doing for decades.
Roughly half of the U.S. workforce is already quietly quitting, with work engagement declining in the second quarter of 2022, according to a Gallup poll.
But silent withdrawal doesn't have the same effect on everyone.
A recent Washington Post article delved into this trend and explored how women and people of color are already disadvantaged in the workplace.
They face harsher penalties for mistakes, have higher burnout rates, and are less likely to be promoted. As a result, silent withdrawal could hold them back even more and is something they simply cannot afford.
How companies should address silent withdrawal
In an NPR article, critics of the term say that quiet quitting is a misnomer for setting boundaries at work and for a healthy work-life balance.
They also argue that the term highlights how much companies exploit employees and set expectations for overperformance without adequate compensation.
This interview comes on the heels of the Great Resignation, an economic trend in which workers leave their jobs en masse in 2021.
The reasons were said to be low or stagnant wages, high cost of living, health issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the desire to work remotely. Not to mention burnout.
With this in mind, employers should not view silent termination as a trend that is damaging the workplace, they should view it as an opportunity to improve workplace culture.
It's a fact: Employees are "quietly quitting" as a result of poor work environments - and there's data to back it up.
HBR's workplace study finds that quiet terminations are more a reflection of "bad bosses" than employees' reluctance to go the extra mile.
Their researchers found that managers who ranked highest in balancing business needs with employee needs had the highest percentage of employees willing to go the extra mile—62% to be exact, and only 3% quit quietly.
This is in stark contrast to managers who ranked lowest in the category, with only 20% of their employees willing to go the extra mile and 14% to quit quietly.
An employee who receives adequate support from his manager, is given opportunities to grow and is rewarded for his work, will be motivated to perform at the highest level.
It is up to employers to create an environment in which this happens. This starts with setting boundaries around work hours – this might look like a no-contact policy when outside the office.
Management training is also important as this is likely to have the strongest impact on employees. Training on growth coaching, skill development and compensation transparency will help build trust with employees and promote a positive work life.
Additionally, set up quarterly career chats between managers and their direct reports to discuss areas of interest and focus, current or anticipated challenges, and more. The more engagement managers build with their teams, the less likely they are to quit quietly.
What to do when you are managing silent withdrawal
If you realize that you have silent churn in your team, the first thing you should do is realize that it is probably due to a lack of trust between you and your employee.
Where do you go from there? Work on your relationship.
One of the best ways to do this is to have regular 1-on-1s where you build your relationship. Find common ground, listen actively, pay attention to their interests, and share resources to support their growth.
Additionally, set up quarterly career chats to discuss their current trajectory. Here are the key areas for discussion:
- Interests and values
- Strengths and gaps
- Job satisfaction
- Career goals