Earlier this year, the Microsoft Work Index revealed that workers are prioritising health and wellbeing more than they did pre-pandemic (see The Brief). The “quiet quitting” mindset builds off this attitude: it involves working the required minimum, constructing an identity independent of work, and dedicating energy to personal pursuits. In practice, this means refusing to take on extra tasks or answer emails outside of working hours.
In the context of the Great Resignation and burnout epidemic, the trend has caught media attention, eliciting outrage from some and support from others. One video claims that the phenomenon is misnamed, and that this rejection of hustle culture is simply “resisting wage theft”. Another response posted on TikTok claims: “If it means not going above and beyond and just doing what you’re paid to do, isn’t that just called working?” While quiet quitting is largely a white-collar phenomenon on social media, it’s happening alongside conversations of unionisation in the US, illustrating a broader interest from workers in having their professional output match their salary and benefits.
Quiet quitting resonates particularly with younger workers, who are more likely to feel isolated and disengaged in a remote work setting. Employers can be empowered by understanding this cohort’s perspective and work ethos, and respond by nurturing a work environment honouring their work/life balance, or doubling down on wellness-focused benefits that resonate with them.
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