If you scroll through your business platform of choice or your TikTok account one Buzzword usually pops up for sure: “Quiet Quitting”. I read and watch this so many times that it starts to annoy me. So before I started to write this post I needed to assure what quiet quitting is as per definition. So I did some Google research to tell me what “quiet quitting” is and here are some definitions I based my post on:
Quiet quitting is an application of work-to-rule , in which employees work within defined work hours and engage solely in activities within those hours. Despite the name, the philosophy of quiet quitting is not necessarily connected to quitting a job outright, but rather doing precisely what the job requires.  Proponents of quiet quitting also refer to it as acting your wage
Another definition on Linkedin:
In a nutshell, “quiet quitting” is about rejecting the notion that work has to take over one’s life and that employees should go above and beyond what their job descriptions entail.
TechTarget defines quiet quitting like this:
Quiet quitting doesn’t mean an employee has left their job, but rather has limited their tasks to those strictly within their job description to avoid working longer hours. They want to do the bare minimum to get the job done and set clear boundaries to improve work-life balance. These employees are still fulfilling their job duties but not subscribing to ‘work is life’ culture to guide their career and stand out to their superiors. They stick to what is in their job description and when they go home, they leave work behind them and focus on non-work duties and activities.
One thing that stood out after reading all those definitions: I miss words like “excellent” “best way possible” or “with all your motivation”. For me all those definitions sound like: I do my job, 8 hours per day, and then: F*** this s*** I´m out unless I get a promotion, a bonus, or some other Bonification (then I might consider staying a little bit longer). At least that’s the picture that I see when I see and read all those good pieces of advice from people supporting the idea of „quiet quitting“.
I can not help to ask if this is a way to have a job that you can do until you retire. I fully understand that a work-life balance is a today very crucial thing. I appreciate the time that I m not in the office for sure as much as those that claim that „quiet quitting“ is useful for those people.
But let me ask you:
Is Bill Gates someone you consider to be a quiet quitter?
Is Oprah Winfrey someone you consider to be a quiet quitter?
Is Elon Musk someone you consider to be a quiet quitter?
Is Arianna Huffington someone you consider to be a quiet quitter?
…. (you can enhance this list as you like)
Unless you can prove me wrong, I would assume that these people had a goal in mind and they worked hard as hell to reach that goal. So my assumption is: If you have PASSION for something you are more likely willing to go the extra mile(s).
But these are high-flyer examples, I know. People that are rich and famous. Got that.
So let’s have a look at some more „grounded“ people. Like our parents maybe? The so-called „Boomers“? Were „Boomers“ quiet quitters? What do you think? I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have today’s wealthy environment that we enjoy on a daily base and that enables us to think about quiet quitting, work-life balance, soya milk, and Fridays for Future. It was the generation of the Boomers that build the basement of the convenient lifestyle that we enjoy today. Like it or not. And those people didn´t do the “9-to-5” jobs. They worked overtime, the extra shifts to build something. For themselves but mostly for their families. Yes, they paid a price for that. I know from the elders in my surrounding. But they considered that this was “for the greater good”. And I´m humbled and thankful for that.
So what is the expectation of quiet quitters? Having a healthier better life? Maybe. They will, for sure, have a better work-life balance and will be more balanced when they shut down their Notebooks at 5 pm. They will have plenty of time to enrich their life with whatever they like to enrich it. No question.
But being outstanding? Moving others than themselves to higher goals? Inspire people within a 9-to-5 framework? Not so sure about that one. I think (just a personal pov) that you can not limit an idea or a passion by a clock. Should I stop working when I´m “in the flow” because the clock tells me to? We love to take people as “motivation goals” that are outstanding, in what so ever way.
For me (personal point of view) “quiet quitting” is nothing else than to accept that you have JUST A JOB that “secures your living standards” and you see this job in this way. It´s not a job that you choose (now) to break grounds, nor a job (now) that gets you into a position where you want to influence others. It´s a job and that´s it.
And this is perfectly fine! Again, if this is a way of living, then it´s a good one (for yourself). In general, I hope that it´s a fair share between people that want to go this way and the ones that want to burn for something, even if it means that the extra mile is necessary. The ones that don´t ask in the first place “what´s in for me?”. From my personal experience: It´s not the 9-to-5 people that move the career levels up that fast (next to the ones with the connections). And those that are in top positions today that I know…those are people that worked their a** of for this position. So no complaints here. You have both sides…the ones that do a job for a living and the ones that see their job as part of that living. Both come with ups and downsides. You have to accept them and you are good to go! I think a fair balance of those two types is ok.
Employers, don´t just stand on the sideline and watch….ACT NOW (except, you like having an army of 9-to-5 drones)!
I read some interesting articles, esp. the ones that reflect “quiet quitting” from an employer´s point of view. And most of them draw a “not that good” picture of working culture in companies where you have those 9-to-5 people. Now what??
More money? Sure. A better salary is always a good starting point. But more money is not the key (next to the fact that you need to have/earn that to spend it on the employees)…maybe if you pay mercenaries…but not people that are supposed to bring your company forward.
More company values? Sounds good. A reachable company, has a definition, a purpose something I can identify myself with sounds good (to me).
More fruit baskets and late nite pizzas? HELL NO! Such nonsense corporate benefits will cause right the opposite of what you want to archive.
Instead of “Yes….I work at company X,Y,Z. It’s ok, it pays the bills.” it sounds way better if employees talk more like that: “I work at X,Y,Z…and let me tell ya THAT´S what I´d call a working place!”
But you don´t get this response for free. I can only imagine that this is a long hard road. I mean, there was a reason why former employees of Springer&Jacoby still to the very day are proud of their former company. Why do people like me speak very proudly about their time at Ogilvy? We identified with our working place. We identified with the work we did and celebrated the company’s success, as well as the company, celebrated it with its employees. Employer branding is the magic work. Something that got difficult in the age of “new work” where employers are spread all over the country. I´m not here to have a solution in place for this, but I can identify this battleground for companies that are not named “Google”, “Meta” or similar. If you are not able to have at least X% of your employees that don´t fall for “quiet quitting”…you are fed. Yes, you are. You can name it as you like, but you are fed in the end. Because with a high percentage, it´s those people that push the company forward. And if you screw it with those few…well, have fun (you won´t have that much shortly).
In the end, it´s again the mix and a hand-in-hand thing…I guess
Quiet quitting can be a phenomenon…something temporary if employers, as well as employees, find a common ground to work on a company esp. an agency with a large number of such people is doomed in the long term. Not because those people won´t get their job done in the number of hours given, but they will lack the innovation and the will to push forward and close gaps in times where it s might be needed. And employers can choose if their strategy will support this or not. But don´t wait too long…once such people are established in the company…it´s hard to change their mindset.
What do you think?
Happy to discuss.