By Alison Cutler, The Charlotte Observer (TNS)
A new movement has bubbled up on TikTok, inspiring young workers and baffling some bosses.
“Quiet quitting,” a hashtag that has over 3.9 million views on TikTok, has nothing to do with people quitting their job. Instead, the movement aims to help people reel in their overachieving tendencies at work, which “quiet quitters” argue can lead to burnout.
“I took a step back and said, ‘I’m just going to work the hours I’m supposed to work, that I’m really getting paid to work,’” 24-year-old Paige West told The Wall Street Journal. “Besides that, I’m not going to go extra.”
In her previous role, West found herself so stressed she began to lose hair, she told The Wall Street Journal.
“They’re not chasing hustle culture at work. … Essentially they’re doing what they’re paid to do,” TikTok user Allison Peck said in a video about quiet quitting.
Though the movement is embraced by many Gen Z workers and professionals from older generations, not everyone is on board, including career coaches.
TikToker and career coach Kelsey Wat shared her concerns about quiet quitting in a video and challenged the idea.
“I fully understand why people do it, but personally I don’t really think it’s healthy. To me, quiet quitting is a coping mechanism. It’s a way to numb yourself from a bad job,” Wat said.
Instead, she encouraged workers to reflect on if their jobs aligned with their values and interests. If they don’t, maybe it’s time to move on, Wat suggested.
“If you have career goals to do more than what you’re doing now … what’s going to get you there is going to be the network that you built at your current job. Quiet quitting is literally wasting your time at this company and shooting yourself in the foot,” TikToker Emily Smith said in a video.
Other professionals raise the questions: Why is it called quiet quitting when quitting isn’t even a factor, and is the name of the movement doing more harm than good?
Shini, a software developer known as @Baobao.farm on TikTok, argues that the concept of quiet quitting is just working a healthy amount and fulfilling expectations in a role. It should be called what it truly is, Shini says: doing your job.
“I just feel like the term ‘quiet quitting’ kind of normalizes the idea of going above and beyond in your job, because if you’re not, then you’re quiet quitting, and I’m just not about that,” Shini said.
Her bio on TikTok says “I code to pay bills,” highlighting a common belief among Gen Zers that work is a way to support the life you want to live, instead of living to work.
Shini said she used to jump through many corporate hoops and go above and beyond but doesn’t do so anymore and continues to get positive reviews with her company. By setting boundaries, Shini said she created a full-scale east Asian vegetable farm during her free time and maintains a healthy work-life balance.
Senior client partner Elise Freedman told The Wall Street Journal that quiet quitters’ who seem less engaged with their jobs may face layoff risks.
“It’s perfectly appropriate that we expect our employees to give their all,” Freedman told the outlet.
Some Gen Z and millennial workers aren’t so willing to negotiate when it comes to values and culture in the workplace, though, a global Deloitte survey that included over 23,000 Gen Z and millennial workers found.
Almost half of Gen Z employees showed interest in leaving their jobs within the next two years, according to the survey’s news release. The top reasons workers have recently left included pay, workplace mental health concerns and burnout. The new priorities for a job include work-life balance, learning and development.
Millennials and Gen Z make up 46% of the U.S. workforce, and workplace consultant Paul Walters offered some advice to employers in a Clifton Strengths Gallup interview on how to navigate the constantly changing values of workers in different generations.
“Don’t make assumptions about particular generations,” Walters told Gallup. “The best managers, as we’ve talked about before, individualize their approach. So I would go to your people who are millennials or Gen Z and ask them about their strengths, ask how they like to be managed, ask what they value in the workplace and what that culture should look like, and let that inform the decision.”