Gen Z has only been in the labor force for a few short years, but they’ve already made major waves. The oldest among them have just hit 25, and are still relatively new to full-time work. Yet many are pushing for the end of the 40-hour work week and putting an emphasis on mental health over their jobs—and they are extremely vocal about it on social media.
Now, a new labor trend is starting to emerge among Gen Z—quiet quitting. This might sound strange at first, and seem like it’s just Gen Z being lazy. But upon closer inspection, is it really? Could this young generation lead the way toward healthier work-life boundaries?
What, Exactly, Is Quiet Quitting?
Quiet quitting is a work trend that’s taken over TikTok, with videos about the topic racking up millions of views in recent weeks. No, people aren’t stealthily submitting their two weeks’ notice like the name suggests. Instead, this term is what Gen Z is using to describe the simple act of doing their job.
Quiet quitting is setting clear work-life boundaries to reduce your stress. You only do the job that you are paid to do. You don’t bend over backward for your boss, and you don’t go above and beyond.
“You’re not outright quitting your job, but you’re quitting the idea of going above and beyond,” explains TikTok user @zkchillin. “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 your labor.”
TikTok videos with the hashtag #quietquitting give examples of this practice, like closing your computer the moment the clock strikes five o’clock and heading out the door. Another example is not doing the jobs of two to three people or refusing a work request because it’s not in your contract.
Why Are More People Starting To Quiet Quit?
Gen Z is talking about quiet quitting the most on social media, but the attitude is not exclusive to the younger generation. A spring 2022 Gallup poll found that American workers of all ages were in an “engagement slump” when it came to their work.
“Engaged employees are involved in and enthusiastic about their work and workplace,” the polling data explains. “Actively disengaged employees are disgruntled and disloyal because most of their workplace needs are unmet.”
The percentage of American workers now engaged at work is just 32 percent compared to 36 percent two years ago. And this is the case among Gen Z, older millennials, Gen X, and baby boomers.
The poll also found that those who worked in the office or on-site at their job had the lowest engagement levels, 29 percent. While remote workers and employees with hybrid schedules had higher levels of engagement, 37 percent.
All of this data means that Americans’ attitudes towards their jobs and the workplace are changing, and it’s happening quickly. More than half of unemployed US workers are not looking for a new job. Many workers are choosing not to return to pre-pandemic jobs, while some are requesting to work from home.
What’s more, since the mid-1990s, the average retirement age has risen for both men and women. This means people are working later into their 60s and beyond. So, it’s especially important to have a proper work/life balance.
What Are The Potential Downfalls?
There is absolutely nothing wrong with knowing your worth at work. And there is definitely no need to bend over backward for an employer that doesn’t value your contribution—especially if you’re not properly compensated. Always going above and beyond at the expense of time with your family, engaging in your favorite hobbies, and your mental health is no way to live your life.
Doing your job the way it’s supposed to be done with a healthy boundary between work and family/leisure time—which, again, is just simply “working” and doing your job properly—is great for work/life balance. And, it’s an idea that is obviously resonating.
But, phoning it in and always doing the bare minimum could result in shooting yourself in the foot when it comes to overall career goals and happiness at work. Supervisors could perceive it as a sign you’re already checked out and looking for a new job or are not going to be able to handle the responsibilities associated with a promotion.
There’s also the possibility that quiet quitting could lead to quiet firing.
“A lot of talk about ‘quiet quitting’ but very little talk about ‘quiet firing,’ which is when you don’t give someone a raise in 5 years even though they keep doing everything you ask them to,” Randy Miller, a software developer, tweeted in a reply to a tweet about quiet quitting.
Are You Ready To Quiet Quit?
Simply doing the job you are paid to do—and not living the hustle culture 24/7—can be a great career/life strategy. Goals don’t have to always be about making the most money and working your way up the corporate hierarchy. But, always doing the minimum might not work for everyone.
If you are disengaged from your job, consider talking with your supervisors so you can plan a better path for yourself in the company. Or, actually quit your job and find something more satisfying.
Quiet quitting can only be defined as “being lazy” if you let it.