Quiet Quitting: What to Do Instead

September 12, 2022

Pictured: woman at work desk with head in handsHave you heard of the phrase “Quiet Quitting”? It is the latest hot topic in the world of work right now.

Before I get into it, let’s clarify: What does “Quiet Quitting” mean?

It does NOT mean quitting your job quietly, so no one knows that you’re gone!

Quiet Quitting is a behavior that is tied to a belief system.

From a behavior standpoint, it means you stop going above and beyond in your job. You do only what is required and nothing else.

From a belief system standpoint, it means that you’ve decided that your worth is not defined by how productive you are. You have decided that work is not going to be your whole life. It is going to be PART of your life.

If you are considering Quiet Quitting, I suggest you first pause and reflect on your work experiences before you start making any changes. The impact could be significant, so it is important that you first determine what is most important to you at this time in your life and career.

To help you in your consideration, I want to dig into three key aspects of Quiet Quitting that I mentioned above.

#1: What do we mean by going “above and beyond?”

Going above and beyond has a different meaning, depending on the circumstance.

Sometimes, it means going beyond the job description with the potential of being promoted. For example, let’s say you are offered the opportunity to take on additional responsibilities without a pay increase. This gives your manager time to determine if you can do the job well… in other words, you are given the opportunity to prove yourself.

Other times, going “above and beyond” is a requirement of the job. It shows up in the job description as: “extra duties as defined by the supervisor.” This gives your manager the ability to delegate responsibilities that you wouldn’t get if you just work within the parameters of the clearly defined job description. These are growth opportunities!

So, what happens if you are working “above and beyond” to an extreme level and giving more to the company than you are to your personal life? This can cause problems! You become stressed, resentment sets in, your emotional well-being is affected… and then the “quiet quitting” may suddenly make sense to you.

If how you perceive “above and beyond” is different from how your boss sees it, there is a conflict in expectations which needs to be addressed.

What should you do?

Take the time to evaluate two things: (1) What you want and (2) What you are doing.

Is the work you are doing that goes “above and beyond” being recognized with growth opportunities or are you being taken advantage of?

Where do you want to go in the future, and is the work you are doing “above and beyond” going to help you get there?

Before you start “Quiet Quitting,” see if there are ways to address the situation that are less passive aggressive. Talk to your manager. If that doesn’t work, talk to HR. Let them know what your situation is and see if they will work with you to come up with a more productive answer that serves you and them simultaneously.

#2: Your worth is not determined by how productive you are.

Being productive is just one measure of how well you are doing your job.

Measuring how productive you are is less about how much you are accomplishing during defined work hours, and more about the contributions and value you have brought to the organization.

Other ways to measure your worth – or success! – at work include:

  • Positive feedback from your manager
  • Recognition by others
  • Saving the company money
  • Improving processes
  • Doing a great job on a project
  • Leading a team successfully

The challenge here, then, is to get clear about what success looks like in your particular job so that you can get a clearer picture about how well you are doing.

What should you do?

Communicate with your boss about how the company determines your worth as an employee. Beyond being productive, what else do they want to see? When you are on the same page with your boss about their expectations, you’ll be clearer about what growth and advancement looks like, and it will be easier to feel satisfied and valued with that company.

#3: You have decided that work is not going to be your whole life. It is going to be PART of your life

In my experience working in the outplacement field for 20 years, I saw too many employees make work their whole life as they gave up time with their family for the company. I watched them miss their children’s ballgames, recitals, and important family. One day they were fully employed and the next day they were sitting in my office after a layoff and wondering what just. They just gave up so much for a company that didn’t think twice about letting them go.

I completely support not making work your life for that very reason. A company might one day lay you off and you have lost much more than your job. You’ve lost an investment in time and effort that was focused on your growth in a company that no longer wants you. Now what?

What should you do?

Starting right now, find a healthy balance between your work and your life. Set new boundaries for yourself and communicate them to your boss. Take time for lunch and use your vacation time! The company is not paying you to work through lunch or forfeit your vacation. Make sure you are rounding out your life with activities outside of work so that if you lose your job, you don’t lose your identity.

In the end, what I’m saying is this:

  1. Quiet quitting isn’t necessary. You have other options that are more productive and less passive aggressive.
  2. Evaluate what is important to you for your career. Where are you going and what do you  want to learn?
  3. Schedule a meeting with your manager to have an open honest discussion of what is expected of you.
  4. Create a life outside of work. Yes, there’s more to you than that! And it’s up to you to serve that side of your life.

Where do you want to go in your career?

Use this guide to create your own career path. You can choose your own adventure.

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