Like almost every blog post these days, I have been wanting to write about the topic for a while now. I spent almost a week trying to figure how I felt about the term and what I wanted to say. In between moments of being unable to decide which side I was going with and dismissing it altogether, I couldn’t help wondering why the term resonated with at least half the world’s working population, if not more. It’s also really fascinating to watch who’s come out against quiet quitting and the geographic distribution of responses [Pssst… great research idea right here].
Per a TikTok video, quiet quitting is ‘Quitting the idea of going above & beyond at work’. For a few, the term translated into doing the tasks and putting in the hours that one is paid for. For others, it’s a fancy term for what is well known (in theory) as a healthy work life balance and drawing boundaries. But depending on the interpretation, we’ve seen different reactions.
I understand why a healthy work life balance can sound dangerous to employers who, despite the lip service, struggle to structure work in a way that does not need employees to work late into the evening and stay connected to work via their phone. I cannot imagine a world where I do not have emails, my work calendar or Slack on my phone, but if the company mandated that all work devices be switched off post 6pm, I am sure I can get there. But why would they do that? Employees working long hours with no extra pay, especially in countries where it’s legal to do so, is a significant benefit to organizations, especially if they do it while not being directly coerced into it. There are many reasons employees may choose to do so voluntarily – to get ahead in their career, earn more, or climb the never-ending corporate ladder.
It is possible to go above and beyond at work without clocking in extra hours that you’re not paid for; but it is difficult given that the employers do their best to stuff the hours with meetings and work, but where there is passion, you can find more efficient ways to do more. One can always come up with new ideas, recommendations and do more than just the bare minimum.
However, this is not the prerogative of employees alone. We are aware of organizations that recognize those who go beyond and make it worth their while. We know of organizations who allocate time for growth, exploration and experimentation. And we also know that many more organizations need to follow suit.
A viral trend is sometimes a sign of change and at other times, only a trend. I do not want to quiet quit if it means disengaging with work and doing the bare minimum to keep the paycheck. We know that works only in the short term. I am pro the trend if it means clocking out at a defined time, spreading awareness of the fact that we are not defined by the job we hold, demanding we be paid for the effort we put in and knowing there is more to life than just work.
But never waste a good hashtag.
While an employee will probably never tell their employer that they plan to quiet quit, nothing stops an employer from using the hashtag to spark a debate.
Why not put the hashtag up on a giant whiteboard (physical or virtual) and ask for responses?
Why not discuss it at leadership fireside chats, panel discussions and more?
Why not use it as a headline for your next mental health or career focused newsletter?
Why not use it to drive change?
Trends become revolts when organizations choose to pretend it doesn’t exist. Yet, organizations that get on board trends and do so wisely can spark beneficial conversation that has the potential to drive change. Great changes happen on the backs of revolution and sometimes, just sometimes, hashtags can spark a revolution.
What’s your hashtag story going to be?