Who does ‘quiet quitting’ benefit in today’s modern workforce?

Quiet quitting a job can only be detrimental to the person doing it and to their career aspirations warns Ed Rossiter, founder of Phoenix Search.

The terms “Great Resignation,” “Great Reshuffle,” and most recently “Quiet Quitting” are being used more frequently to describe the current hiring and workplace environments. But are these just new, rebranded phrases used to describe long-standing, and common, practices in the workforce? 

There have always been periods in which mass amounts of employees leave their jobs, or when workers look to better their working conditions. In fact, the term ‘quiet quitting’ was coined over 10 years ago, in 2009.

“The most productive workplaces, and often the best companies, are those where the employees and employer interests are aligned”

This is not a new phenomenon, but in recent years, it has gained media attention as a pertinent, trending issue – perhaps in part due to a flashy re-branding, and new emphasis of mass rethinking on ways of working in the wake of the pandemic, which forced many people to work from home.

Quiet quitting refers to employees choosing to forgo tasks outside of one’s allocated responsibilities, as a result of claims of having a burnout – or checked-out. Quiet quitters still perform their essential duties, but they are less likely to go that extra mile, or exceed expectations. 

According to a Gallup survey, almost half of US workers consider themselves to be “silent quitters”. While ‘hustle’ culture has become more prominent in recent years, and largely normalised, there are still some employees who are content to perform the minimal tasks necessary for their position. What should be investigated is if anyone genuinely benefits by ‘quiet quitting’ as we approach an impending recession.

What causes quiet quitting?

There are several leading causes for quiet quitting – payment under what the employee feels they deserve, feeling unvalued and unlistened to in the workplace, and a shift in priorities following the pandemic. These are issues that employers should be tackling head on to avoid mass turnover, as well as employees losing interest in their roles. 

Going above and above for your employer may occasionally feel taxing and unfulfilling, but this is frequently outweighed by benefits like bonuses, wellbeing allowances, and—most importantly—career advancement. Quiet quitting a job can only be detrimental to the person doing it and to their career aspirations.

Employees who are now rejecting going that extra mile may find themselves being left off of special and important projects, being sidelined in meetings and being passed over for the promotion they desperately wanted – or even let go. While it can be said that quiet quitting impacts the company – and it does – there is an argument to suggest that the most damage is done to the individual. 

This is an age where employers are listening to their employees, to prevent burnout and increase wellness. The workforce has changed, people expect more flexibility in how they work and even when they work. People value more than just a salary in exchange for labour, they want to feel empowered and to know that their company cares about them. 

As workplace wellness is now such a major topic, businesses are taking measures to ensure it. Benefits are in place, flexibility is almost always provided rather than requested, and emphasis is placed on ensuring that employees’ mental health is given priority. Is it fair that quiet quitting is so widely accepted when the goal of the modern workforce is to create the best work environments?

Work/life balance is valuable for each and every individual – many of the workforce are parents, others carers, students or just employees who deserve to leave work at work. However, ensuring you perform well at work needs to play a part in one’s work/life balance, and this may mean occasionally going the extra mile – particularly if you are aware of the long-term benefits of doing such. This does not go unnoticed, and when it comes time to offer perks, employees making that extra effort will shine through. 

It has been a tough period for both workers and businesses, throughout Covid-19 and moving into this time of economic uncertainty. The most productive workplaces, and often the best companies, are those where the employees and employer interests are aligned. There is a collaborative and collective culture, whereby everyone aims to make the lives of those around them easier. A workplace in which employees feel listened to and important, should not breed quiet quitting, but those who are comfortable coasting on the edge may be damaged down the line, and there must be warning signs around this. 

Ed Rossiter
Ed Rossiter is the founder of Phoenix Search, one of Ireland’s fastest growing recruitment businesses. Phoenix caters to Irish companies looking to expand into the US, but also in the UK and across Europe.