EMInfo Reader: I’ve heard the expression “quiet quitting” several times recently. What exactly does it mean and is it a myth or reality?
Dr. Burtnett: Originally, “quiet quitting” was coined to define the “work to the rule” concept where the employee stayed strictly within the minimum role and responsibilities of his/her employment. However, it should not be confused with mass “work to the rule” postures often taken by union member during contract negotiation periods.
The reasons for this can be traced to worker dissatisfaction with their employment to a desire to control “burnout” to a rebellion of some sort. Employees frustrated with growth and mobility prospects in their current position, but unable financially to resign and look for another position, also engage in the practice.
A Gallup poll taken earlier this year revealed quiet quitting can describe as many as half of the U. S. workforce. Gallup found it to be more prevalent among Gen Zers and Millennials who are seeking and not finding the employment engagement and life-work balance they desire. See https://www.gallup.com/workplace/398306/quiet-quitting-real.aspx
Labor market conditions often require tolerance of quiet quitting because replacing these workers, at times, has been difficult. Others, less tolerant, have taken action to terminate when evidence of “slacking off” becomes apparent.
Quiet quitters may also be appearing on the doorstep of staffing firms seeking the assistance of recruiters in their quest to find new employment, positions that are more satisfying and rewarding and allow for improved career growth and mobility. Keep an eye out for them!