Breaking Down The Myth Of Quiet Quitting

It all began when Zaid Khan, a 24-year-old software engineer and musician in New York posted a Tiktok video about quiet quitting that has since garnered worldwide attention, sending the corporate world into overdrive.

Picture this: you turn up to work physically each day but mentally, you check out and do the absolute bare minimum to get by. When the clock strikes 6, that’s your cue to walk out the door.

It may sound like the act of someone silently leaving the company or “going on strike”, but it actually refers to the rejection of hustle culture, the state of putting work above everything else in your life.

Truth be told, there are definitely slackers on every team who take advantage of the quiet quitting trend. Ultimately, it still comes down to the real root cause of what’s happening: creating boundaries and balance at work.

Generating millions of views on Tiktok and major social media sites, quiet quitting is the way young professionals reject the idea of going above and beyond at work. The term sheds new light on workplace culture and has recently opened up a new debate, particularly about how employees of different generations relate to their jobs.

With the impending economic downturn and recent pandemic, productivity levels are seen as a major concern to employers. They view quiet quitting as being lazy and  slacking at work. However, an organizational psychologist at Wharton, Adam Grant said that when employees don’t feel cared about, they would eventually stop caring.

It’s no coincidence that the idea has been linked to Gen Z, the majority of whom are at the beginning of their careers. They are starting to realize that all the money in the world is not worth sacrificing personal time and losing hours of sleep.

Why are employees quiet quitting?

The idea is believed to be an adaptation of China’s “lying flat” movement, commonly known as “tang ping”, which sees young people taking a break from relentless work that offer little reward in pursuit of a more balanced lifestyle. The movement took off in 2021 when the pandemic hit. Many felt overwhelmed by the pressure to outperform their peers and achieve greater heights in these unsettling times.

Hence, the youth are being more vocal about merely doing what’s written in the job description, which comes off as a pretty loud statement to their bosses. David, a creative director from Yorkshire said that employees these days are getting blamed for actually doing what is required of them.

Quiet quitting is cited as a reaction to hustle culture, job dissatisfaction, stagnant or low wages, as well as burnout and stress. The sheer fact that people are quiet quitting highlights the emotional distress employees face daily to perform beyond their KPIs. 

A survey conducted by found that there are about 30% of employees between ages 25 – 34 doing the bare minimum at work, compared to 8% of workers over the age of 54.

In the era of the baby boomers, staying in a company for the entirety of your career was the norm. But times have changed. Autonomy and work life balance are highly valued over an established hierarchy of responsibility in the modern workplace.

Food for thought: 

  • If it’s called ‘above and beyond’, is it truly unreasonable for an employee to ask to be rewarded for their extra effort?
  • If a peer is willing to do just a little more than the rest, why wouldn’t they be seen as the better employee?

It’s the nature of our working world that occasionally an unexpected task or an important deadline will arise, but when those expectations become the norm, it becomes a concern. Perhaps, both employers and employees need to reconsider the middle ground and what it means to “go above and beyond” again.

Work’s important, but so are you! Keep your mental health in check: