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“Quiet Quitting:” Why It’s Time to Redefine Our Work Culture

It’s time to call out the elephant in the room: Quiet Quitting. You’ve probably heard the phrase in the news lately. If quiet quitting is a thing at your job or in your business, it might be a good time to take a step back and reevaluate your job or your work culture. Both employers and employees need to understand the impact of “quiet quitting” and strive towards creating a positive and supportive work culture. 

So, what is quiet quitting? How did we get here? And where do we go from here? In this article, we explore the true meaning of “quiet quitting,” outline what employers should be aware of, and offer advice for employees on how to maintain their well-being in the workplace. 

What’s the Big Deal? “Quiet Quitting” Defined 

“Quiet quitting” refers to the act of an employee discreetly clocking out at the official end of the day, typically at 5 pm, without formally announcing they are leaving work. But why is this noteworthy? And why does this seem to have caught so many employers off guard?

Quiet quitting surprised many employers partly due to the “hustle culture” norm we’ve been so used to seeing in the workplace. In our fast-paced and demanding business environments, many employees began putting in long hours and going far above and beyond at work. Many even started working nights and weekends to get ahead in their careers.

But, the jury is out on whether this strategy actually worked in helping workers get ahead. However, one thing we do know is over time, what once was the exception to the rule—employees working long hours, sacrificing personal life and well-being, and pushing themselves to the brink of exhaustion—became the expected standard.

In many cases, our workers began suffering from high stress, exhaustion, and burnout to meet the standard. That may be why, when the first quiet-quitter slipped out of the office at 5 pm, they raised a lot of eyebrows. It goes against the whole idea that the only way to get ahead is to bury yourself in work at any expense. 

In reality, what’s actually going on shouldn’t be considered revolutionary. Employees are increasingly seeking out alternative ways to take control of their work-life balance, and quiet quitting is one such response, as it allows employees to disengage from work and prioritize their health and well-being.  

That’s not weird. It’s normal. 

What Employers Need to Know 

Employers being in support of quiet quitting might sound counterintuitive. Why would they want to discourage employees from going above and beyond? It’s their job, after all. Isn’t it the employee’s choice to move their career forward as they see fit? Don’t you want more productivity out of your team?

These arguments make sense on paper—and employees aren’t the only ones subject to hustle culture. It’s employers and company leaders, too. But there is an important distinction: Is “quiet quitting” a “thing” in your workplace? If so, it’s a pretty good indication of a larger problem.

One business’ “quiet quitting” is another business’ plain old end of the workday.

For businesses that fall into the former category, it may not be noteworthy how or when an employee chooses to work. Some may choose to work late or on the weekends, while others adhere to a work-to-rule model. For these workplaces in which quiet quitting is not really a “thing,” employees are often happier and more productive.

You can often identify a workplace in which quiet quitting is not sensational as a business that:

  • Sets realistic goals: By setting achievable goals, you can help employees maintain a healthy work-life balance and avoid burnout. 
  • Offer flexible work arrangements: Flexible work arrangements, such as remote work or flexible hours, help employees better balance their personal and professional lives. 
  • Encourage open communication: Communication between employees and management can create a more positive work environment. This can help prevent “quiet quitting” and ensure that employees feel heard and valued. 

Employee Merit and the Point of Diminishing Returns 

Perhaps two of the most notable characteristics of a business that supports quiet quitting is:

  1. How they define “merit” 
  2. Their ability to course-correct when overworking takes its toll 

When it comes to employee merit, great employers and transformational leaders won’t define excellence based on an employee’s willingness to work themselves into debilitation. Instead, they might celebrate and recognize employees who deliver high-quality work, collaborate effectively with others, and maintain a healthy work-life balance.  

Perhaps more difficult to define is an employer’s ability to keep an eye on a “diminishing point of returns”: the point at which fatigue, over-stimulation, or other adverse effects of overworking begin to show in the quality of their employee’s work. The employer might have safeguards against poor quality and troubleshoot to get to the root of poor quality. If that troubleshooting reveals their employee is overworked, a supportive employer may recalibrate their expectations and ask their employee to work less.

If that sounds counterintuitive, you’re not alone. If employees are working more, aren’t they doing more work? Maybe, but likely no. Again, it’s important to differentiate quality from quantity

Research shows long hours and overworked employees perform at lower levels than others. They may be accomplishing more work, but the outcome is of such low quality that it needs reworking and needs to be redone entirely, which can create more work, and wasted time and resources in the long run.

Great employers encourage great work, not long hours. 

Redefining Your Work: What Employees Need to Know 

Until recently, the standard workday was so well-defined Dolly Parton even wrote a song about it. But hustle culture and other factors have caused many workers to lose perspective of what used to be a standard workday. Redefining your work, if that’s what you’re after, might mean having a difficult conversation with your current employer. But in some cases, it might mean looking for another job in which you’re supported by:

  • Setting boundaries: An employer who establishes and maintains clear boundaries between work and personal time to avoid overworking and burnout. 
  • Listening to your needs: If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to speak up and communicate your needs to your employer. A positive work culture values open communication and a healthy work-life balance. 
  • Distributing merit where merit is due: This may mean finding an employer who values the quality of your work over the hours you’re on the clock. 

So, Where Do We Go from Here? 

There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with wanting to get ahead in your career. If you define success by working more hours and going above and beyond, then you do you. We hope your hard work is celebrated and recognized. 

But if you’re leaving at the end of the standard workday, and your employer defines it as “quiet quitting,” it might be time for a change.

At ITAC Solutions, we understand the importance of finding the right fit for both employees and employers. Our team of experienced recruiters is dedicated to matching top talent with the best opportunities in the tech and IT industry. Let’s work together to discover what’s right for you! Contact us today.