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Quiet Quitting: A Problem or a Reminder?

If you get on any sort of Social Media site or watch or listen to news regularly, you’ve likely heard or seen the term “Quiet Quitting” being thrown around frequently. Here at Trusty Oak, we’re interested in the implications of this conversation and how it relates to our work. What exactly does quiet quitting mean, what does it say about current perceptions of labor, and what does it require us to do next? 

Quiet Quitting Enters The Chat

The term Quiet Quitting was all but unheard of until very recently. Google Trends show that it has maintained an index score of 0 with a few minuscule peaks of 1 (meaning that, while it may have been on the minds of some, it wasn’t a prominent topic in the online consciousness).

In mid-July, that all began to change. The term was brought to the forefront after a video was released on TikTok by user @zaidleppelin discussing the topic, and, as with many TikTok trends, it exploded in popularity from there. Since then, Google Trends has shown the term experienced a modest rise over the next month before exhibiting a sharp peak of 100 by the end of August. It remains a relevant topic as many articles, videos, posts, and more continue to be shared and published discussing what it means and its implications, and it has become clear that this term has provided people an entry point to have some important conversations.

So, what exactly does it mean? To many workers, it’s a recognition of, and an answer to, exploitative workplace practices. Some employers, on the other hand, view it as a loss of work ethic or even laziness. Others still insist that it’s no more than establishing healthy workplace boundaries. Quiet Quitting is being defined as the practice of doing only the bare minimum at a job. The biggest question being asked by many: Is that really a bad thing? 

Shifting Perceptions of Labor

There has long been a cultural-wide idea that our work should be our life, that we should do everything we can in the service of our job, and that going above and beyond is the expectation. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot of things, both in practice and in how we view the world we live in. Since the pandemic’s effects on the workplace have taken hold, the world has seen a dramatic shift in how people think about their jobs and the extent of their commitment to those workplaces, including what some refer to as The Great Resignation. Conversations have centered around multiple aspects of work, including the necessity for in-person work in many industries, the extent to which workers should give their time and energy, and whether or not the majority of people have a healthy relationship with their job. 

In many respects, quiet quitting is a bit of a misnomer. Employees are using it to describe how much effort they feel they should need to put in to make a liveable wage. Some employers, economists, and media personalities are using it quite negatively, insisting that employees practicing this ideal are basically, or may as well be, quitting and contributing little to the workplace. But, if an employee shows up to work on time, completes their assigned work, and then goes home at the end of the day, aren’t they doing everything that’s required of them in their job? Should we be expected to check emails, answer phone calls after hours, and generally allow work to invade our private lives? 

The short answer is: no. We believe that employers and employees alike should maintain a work/life balance that works for them, and more employers recognizing that as an important value to their workers may be surprised at the results. Maintaining this balance only serves to strengthen all aspects of the workplace and relationships between employees and their employers. We think it shouldn’t be viewed as a bad thing that people want to keep their work separate from their lives and vice versa.

Setting boundaries is an important part of any relationship, and it can only improve us in the end, especially in our commitment to our work and career.

Striving to maintain healthy boundaries benefits us and those around us, and that’s what the quiet quitting conversation can bring into focus. 

Setting Boundaries

Setting boundaries is important for both our physical and mental well-being and allows us to avoid one of the most damaging factors in any situation: burnout. It gives us clear and understood spaces to maintain different parts of our lives. Leaving work at work lets us fully enjoy our free time and unburdens us from worrying about deadlines or emails. We can find relaxation and satisfaction that enables us to recharge and reinvigorate before returning to work the next day or after the weekend, which leads to multiple workplace benefits.

Boundary settings can provide many advantages at work. It helps people return to work rested and ready to focus, which can be difficult when thinking about work all the time. This helps employees keep their minds on work, plan out their days more efficiently, and maintain healthy relationships with colleagues and managers. Separating work from life has few disadvantages and multiple benefits, and striving toward that end can improve the work-life balance of many. It also helps everyone to understand what is expected of them and what tasks they need to perform to be successful. Expecting employees to constantly go above and beyond at their job is disingenuous and unethical. Employers who expect and even encourage their employees to maintain firm boundaries, possibly even going as far as to offer education, tools, and resources to achieve that end, tend to see better employee retention and overall workplace satisfaction. 

Freelance Work And Boundaries

With respect to the conversation around quiet quitting and enforcing boundaries, freelance work makes the whole process easier. When partnering with a freelance Virtual Assistant, business owners and those working for them can benefit greatly from a system that compartmentalizes work and maintains strong and clear boundaries. It enables the VA to offer services that maximize their efficiency while ensuring the client they work with gets their money’s worth from every minute. Partnering with a freelancer through an agency or individual brings focus, clarity, and a relationship in which everyone understands their role, boundaries, and work value. 

Quiet quitting brings a negative energy to the conversation of workplace boundaries. At Trusty Oak, we encourage everyone to maintain healthy relationships and goals in the workplace, whether it’s in a traditional office setting, an online environment, or a hybrid of some form. Our value to “communicate with transparency” creates an environment conducive to discussing and enforcing firm and clear boundaries, which can only serve to benefit everyone involved. We invite everyone to consider their workplace boundaries and how they affect individual and overall workplace productivity and relationships. Trusty Oak would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! 

Sources: Kilpatrick, Amina. “What is Quiet Quitting” and how it may be a Misnomer for Setting Boundaries at Work.” NPR.com. August 19, 2022.

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Justin Weibel

Justin Weibel attended Slippery Rock University where he earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Secondary Education with a focus on English education. After graduating in December of 2011, he began working as an educator in 2012. He started in the public school system as a part-time and long-term substitute until 2016, at which point he was a full-time teacher in a rural North Carolina public school. Upon returning to Pennsylvania, he began working in a residential treatment facility and private school called the Summit Academy. There, he worked with court-adjudicated young men, individually and in group settings, to support and empower them to take control of their lives. Later on, he coordinated educational programs funded by Title 1, including GED testing and the credit recovery online program. This transition from direct education to program coordination is where he discovered and fostered his interest and drive for administrative work.

Justin is passionate about educating and helping himself and those around him grow and develop. He is interested in finding ways to help those in need through his work. He is looking for opportunities to make the world a better place by supporting those in leadership positions and he views his role with Trusty Oak as an opportunity to experience and learn more about a variety of industries and people.

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