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Le magazine en ligne d’Employés Suisse

Quiet Quitting – not Going the Extra Mile

Another trend from the world of work is currently spilling over from the USA to Europe: Quiet Quitting. What is behind it and who does it concern?

“On a Monday morning, Gemma, 25, finally decided she needed to overhaul her working life. ‘I opened my inbox to a load of negative emails from the company’s founder’, explains the London based PR worker. ‘I was expected to deliver big results on a tight deadline. I’d just had enough’”. In these words, Gemma describes on the BBC website why she stopped going the extra mile for her employer.

Gemma didn’t resign. Instead, she chose a path that many employees seem to be taking at the moment: “quiet quitting”. What is meant by quiet quitting is: doing the minimum, work only as much as is necessary or specified in the job description. From 9 to 5. Quiet quitters are not available outside of official working hours and they offer no extra services.

Neither Resignation nor Full Engagement

Quiet quitting suddenly became a hype after user @zkchillin posted a video about it on TikTok in July 2022. He explains what he means by quiet quitting: “You’re not outright quitting your job, but you’re quitting the idea of going above and beyond. You’re still performing your duties, but you’re no longer subscribing to the hustle-culture mentality that work has to be your life; the reality is it’s not, and your worth as a person is not defined by labor.” Quiet quitting is neither full resignation nor full engagement, but something in between.

That @zkchillin's post went viral on TikTok suggests that quiet quitting engages younger people in particular. Studies have shown that millennials and members of generation Z in particular are not very satisfied with their jobs. On the internet many more examples of young people who have suffered similar fates to Gemma can be found.

A New Term for an Old Phenomenon

The term “quiet quitting” may be new, the idea behind it is not. “Although this has come from a younger generation and in new packaging, this trend has been studied under different names for decades: disengagement, neglect, withdrawal.” This is what Anthony Klotz says, associate professor at University of College London’s School of Management. In the wake of the covid pandemic, many people are thinking more about their health and work-life balance. They are more aware of the risks that overworking may have on their mental health.

The term is problematic, for two reasons. First, it is not precise, quiet quitters don’t leave their jobs. Second, the term has negative connotations and there is danger that certain groups of employees will be stigmatized. For example, those employees who wish to keep work and leisure or family time strictly separate. They are normally not quiet quitters in the stricter sense and are fully committed to their job.

Rebalancing the Life-Domain

The reasons why employees consider quiet quitting are manifold: stress, health issues, frustration, unpaid overtime, denied pay raise… One of the most important factors, however, is lack of appreciation – which leads to demotivation.

Sufferers often say they turn to quiet quitting to take a break and rebalance their life-domain. They have no intention of working this way for the rest of their working lives. Often, they reorient themselves after such a phase and are fully committed again.

Why do employees not just leave a job which is not satisfying? They may still love their work and are not inclined to give it up. Similar jobs may be difficult to find. Often employees cannot afford to resign and risk to be unemployed for a period of time.

Hansjörg Schmid

Mercredi, 21. Sept. 2022

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