What Quiet Quitting Really Means, and What You Should Do About It

What started out as a viral Tik Tok trend has turned into headlines about a new workplace epidemic called “quiet quitting.” Like many terms coined to describe a workforce trend, it’s a bit of a misnomer—designed primarily to generate headlines, not necessarily to inform. 

If you sift through all the noise about “quiet quitting,” you’ll learn that it’s not actually about people quitting their jobs at all. Rather, it’s about people not taking their jobs too seriously, and no longer going above and beyond the call of duty. Instead of working past 5:00, picking up extra shifts, or taking on extra assignments, “quiet quitters” are no longer willing to do more than what’s expected of them. These “quiet quitters” are now finding solace in more time with their families, more time for self-care, and more time to explore passion projects and hobbies. 

Some say that the solution to “quiet quitting” is to pay people more and compensate them for the work they’re doing. But is it really just about pay and benefits? At exaqueo, our work is rooted in understanding the employment relationship. We understand that the employment relationship is no longer an exchange of pay and benefits

Quiet quitting isn’t employees being lazy.  It is a sign that the relationship between employee and employer ebbs and flows. In some cases employees are reacting to being overworked and overtaxed. In other cases, they are experiencing life: relationship challenges, trauma, health issues. Employees are human: sometimes leaning fully into work, sometimes leaning into life. We bring our whole selves to work at every level–from CEO to front line.

While the concept of “quiet quitting” may have emerged from a Tik Tok trend, a platform most popular among Gen Z, the sentiment behind “quiet quitting” is not exclusive to the younger generations. It’s an expression or sentiment broadly shared by employees when they feel like they’re not being listened to or cared for.

Whether we’re talking about The Great Resignation, The Great Reshuffle, or “quiet quitting,” there is no doubt that living through the COVID-19 pandemic has forced most of us to reevaluate our priorities. Gen Z may have opened up the door for the conversation and used social media to gain more traction, but the concept of being “disengaged” at work is not a new one.

Ultimately, we need to ask ourselves, “is quiet quitting really a bad thing?” Should the expectation of employees really be to always go above and beyond? Just like in any other relationship, there are ebbs and flows, whether it’s a relationship with a partner, a friend, or a family member. Is it fair to always expect employees to give 110%? 

Conducting workforce research to understand how employees truly think and feel will provide you with actionable insights to understand how and why your high-performers turned to “quiet quitters.”

In a market that’s becoming more transactional, we encourage employers to consider the role they play in the employment relationship and what they can do to strengthen it. 


Need help uncovering your employment relationship? Reach out to us. 

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