Act your wage

Why quiet quitting is replacing hustle culture as the most viral workplace trend

By Hannah Massen

Imagine arriving at the office on a Tuesday morning prepared to do exactly what you were hired to do: nothing more, nothing less. No offering to buy coffee and donuts for the team meeting. No “helping out” a coworker when you have your own to-do list to get through. And no staying after hours to get through the rest of that paperwork. You show up at 9, you leave at 5:30, and you put away anything work-related after that.  

In the past this might have been known as a normal workday. But in 2022 it’s an act of rebellion against the hustle culture that’s defined so many people’s careers. 

Quiet quitting, one of the internet’s most viral buzzwords, has nothing to do with quitting at all. While there is no one definition for the term, it’s broadly understood as a retreat from workplace ambition: fulfilling only the duties outlined in one’s job description without “going the extra mile” unless compensated for doing more. While the term was born on TikTok, it’s now appeared in the Wall Street Journal and the Harvard Business Review, a sure sign that employees’ desire for a better work-life balance is something that CEOs no longer can ignore. 

While TikToker Zaiad Khan is credited with coining the term, quiet quitting is a trend that’s been decades in the making. But with unemployment and workplace fatigue hitting peaks during the pandemic, the same environment that set the stage for the Great Resignation (the ongoing trend of employees leaving their jobs beginning in 2021), the push for more reasonable hours has become all the more immediate. 

According to Asana’s 2022 Anatomy of Work Report, seven out of 10 surveyed employees experienced burnout in the last year. And a 2021 survey from Gallup found that only 36 percent of people reported being engaged with their jobs. 

Many people’s priorities have shifted in the last two years as the turmoil has made them realize that there’s more to life than working 60 hours a week to win “employee of the month.” Are you one of those people? If so, here’s how you can practice quiet quitting at any stage of your career. 

Say no more often 

Employers: you hired your employees for a reason. And employees: you are not responsible for the fact that your boss hasn’t hired enough people to ensure that all of your clients’ needs are met. No matter what role you play in your business, your direct responsibilities (a.k.a. those outlined in your job description or contact) should be your first and only priorities. Everything else is a favor that you can respectfully decline. 

Release the need for perfectionism

A key part of quiet quitting is knowing when “good” is good enough. Take a step back and reflect on the expectations you place on yourself at work. Are they realistic? Do they align with the goals and expectations of your team? Holding yourself to unrealistic – and probably undefined – standards only will perpetuate the cycle of burnout as you take on more to try and convince yourself and others that you’re an asset to your team. 

Remember your worth

You are a person before you enter your office, and you have worth as you close out your inbox at the end of the day. Quiet quitting encourages people to view their work as something they do every day to pay the bills, not as an integral part of their identities. Celebrate your professional wins, but know that those are only a small sliver of what makes you great.

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