After years of scrolling Pinterest boards encouraging us to “rise and grind,” and listening to podcasts on how to boost productivity, hustle culture may have finally burned itself out.
Whether we’re asked to stay extra hours at work or to take on tasks outside of our job descriptions, hustle culture has told us these demands aren’t only acceptable but necessary. You can’t work your way to the top without, well… working.
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However, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we view many aspects of our lives. Work is no exception. With many people now working from home, the conversation about work-life balance has assumed a new meaning.
“Quiet quitting” is the most recent trending topic to enter the discussion — and it’s sparking debates across the internet.
What Is Quiet Quitting?
“Quiet quitting” is the antithesis to hustle culture. Instead of committing to the grind, some employees are choosing to do only what’s outlined in their job descriptions. And nothing more.
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While the term quiet quitting isn’t new, it’s gained fresh relevance through viral TikTok videos about the role work plays in our lives. For example, this 17-second video encourages viewers to establish a life outside of work. It reminds them their “worth is not defined by productive output.”
For some, this only makes sense. Leaving work at work, and releasing the pressure to go above and beyond, can bring a sense of relief. It also helps them to achieve peace of mind.
Others worry quiet quitters only place an extra burden on colleagues who then have to pick up the slack.
The debate has even stretched to include another term: quiet firing. Workers who are “quietly fired” have met their job requirements, only to remain in the same position for years. No promotions, no raises, no recognition.
“Quiet firing” may even go as far as treating employees poorly in the hope they will quit. That spares employers the inconvenience of firing them directly.
Why Quiet Quitting Is So Controversial
Quiet quitting isn’t a new phenomenon. However, it does have new relevance in light of the ways we now discuss mental health. Younger generations can be more open to discussing the ways in which work impacts their well-being, and less willing to endure situations that negatively affect their quality of life.
The quiet-quitting discussion may be less of a debate, and more of an invitation to a larger conversation about what we’re expected to do at work, and how we’re asked to do it.
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Opening up this conversation doesn’t mean Gen-Z and Millennials employees are lazier than those in previous generations. It simply invites us to reflect on how we’re experiencing work, and how to make it better for everyone involved.
In fact, many employees are still happy to take on additional tasks — as long as they’re given enough notice, and fairly compensated for their work.
What Quiet Quitting Reminds Us About Boundaries
Regardless of which side of the discussion you land on, quiet quitting reminds us of the importance of setting boundaries and establishing open communication in the workplace.
Employers should have accountability to their employees, and ensure they’re not setting unrealistic expectations. Employees should feel that their work is making an impact, and feel appreciated for what they do.
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Employees also should have the freedom to leave work in the workplace. It’s possible to be dedicated to your job without having to check your email every five seconds.
Having healthy boundaries can help to prevent employees from becoming burned out, and feeling the need to “quietly quit” in the first place.
Creating an environment in which open communication between employers and employees is prioritized. If employees are confident their employer will listen, they’re more likely to open discussions about feeling overburdened, instead of silently pulling back their workload in retaliation.
While quiet quitting reminds us of the importance of a healthy work environment, it also reminds us that work isn’t the most important part of our lives.
Ultimately, work can help you to feel a sense of purpose in life, but it’s not your only purpose in life.
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