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Can Quiet Quitting Hurt Your Career?

Can Quiet Quitting Hurt Your Career?

It’s quite the opposite of going above and beyond at work. Here’s how to avoid the negative effects on your career.

“Quiet quitting” has become a new buzzword over the past few months. Here’s what it means, how this trend started and what you need to know to avoid having it negatively affect your career.

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Quiet Quitting Defined

Quiet quitting refers to a rising trend where employees are doing the bare minimum at work, a reversal of the tendency to go above and beyond in the workplace. A common sentiment behind the quiet quitting trend is that work-life balance is important, overwork is overrated and unhealthy and work isn’t the “end all be all” of a person’s life.

When someone “quietly quits,” they don’t actually resign from their job – but they take a step back from their emotional investment and engagement in their work. You can think of quiet quitting as “going through the motions” – doing the bare minimum to keep your job, flying under the radar screen rather than trying to excel and simply fulfilling your job duties, but doing no more than that. Quiet quitters may procrastinate on duties or deliverables that aren’t needed immediately rather than trying to overachieve.

How Did Quiet Quitting Start?

How did the workforce get here? A number of other recent trends have paved the way for quiet quitting to gain popularity. Employee engagement has declined in 2022, according to a Gallup study published in April 2022. It found that in the U.S., engagement dropped for the first time in a decade over the past two years, ratcheting down in 2021 and again in 2022, with now less than 32% of workers surveyed currently engaged in their workplace.

As employees become disengaged from their work, it opens the door for them to cut back on what they contribute to their job in terms of excitement and energy, and may lead to them joining the ranks of those who are quiet quitting.

Along with decreasing engagement, the Great Resignation – where large swaths of the American workforce decided to leave their jobs – was another precursor to quiet quitting. As people watched colleagues jump ship, many of those who were left may have understandably felt less incentive to give their all.

Another related trend is the move toward greater flexibility at work, with the COVID-19 pandemic leading to expanded opportunities for remote work and a new push toward work-life balance to combat and actively push back against burnout and overwork.

Paul Lewis, chief customer officer at Adzuna, a global job search engine, notes that the trend has its roots within the younger workforce, with the #QuietQuitting hashtag racking up millions of views on social platforms, particularly TikTok.

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“There’s much evidence to suggest that younger, less established workers were some of the hardest hit by the pandemic, suffering from layoffs, pay cuts, and social isolation,” Lewis explains. “With this in mind, it’s unsurprising that this demographic is now the most concerned with maintaining a healthy work/life balance, feeling respected and secure at work, prioritizing their mental health and wellbeing, and having enough time outside of work to pursue their passions.”

How to Combat Burnout and Avoid Quiet Quitting

No one can be engaged at work all the time, and short stints of quiet quitting may help you avoid burnout if you use them strategically rather than adopting the approach as a full-time mindset. While it may be trendy, joining the ranks of the quiet quitters may not be for everyone.

If you need your job financially or think it may serve you well in the future, then it’s smart to avoid a mental “check out” from your current position for too long. Some managers may tolerate a lukewarm performance in the short term, but it’s a risky career strategy to bank on lying low and thinking no one will notice. Lewis suggests the following strategies to help you avoid quiet quitting:

  • Communicate with your boss. “If you are feeling burnt out, talk to your manager,” Lewis advises. “Explain why your current workload is too much, and come with solutions as to how that can be fixed.”
  • Give yourself recharge opportunities. “Make sure you’re using your PTO,” Lewis says. “In many companies, time off doesn’t roll over, and not taking that time will make you feel like you’re working yourself to the bone.”
  • Get up from your computer throughout the day. “Take a walk, sit outside, and eat lunch away from your laptop,” Lewis suggests. “Use your lunch break to do a workout and get those endorphins flowing. This will allow you to feel less stuck and can also help get your creative juices flowing.”
  • Carve out time for your hobbies and being with family and friends. Lewis concludes that setting boundaries and sticking to them is critical to maintaining a balance between your work and personal life. By making sure you have time for things you enjoy outside of your professional responsibilities, you can stay more grounded and make career decisions based on strategy, rather than on being burned out and disengaged.

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