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The world of work, particularly in this post-pandemic era, is full of new terminology describing how professionals are changing their relationship to their jobs, the space their work takes up in their lives, and what fulfilment to expect from it. The latest addition to our work vernacular is “quiet quitting,” a term that implies reduced dedication but in fact represents a sensibility shift to well-being, healthy work engagement, and mostly a balance that allows talent to focus on their work enough to succeed professionally but not so much as to burnout and fail elsewhere in their lives.
Statistics show that work dominates some people’s lives to the point of damaging physical and mental health. According to our new research, the Global Workforce of the Future: Unravelling the Talent Conundrum, only 17 percent of workers take a sick day when feeling mentally unwell or burned out. There’s a stigma attached to taking allotted time off to keep yourself well that is driving many employers into burnout. Only 3 in 10 workers use their holiday time off—which, if you work in the U.S., is already going to be a fraction of your international colleagues.
Quiet quitting might present a solution: Is it time to re-assess how much of our lives we dedicate to our jobs, while still being ambitious, contributing workers?
What is quiet quitting?
Like many trends, quiet quitting gained momentum on the social media platform, TikTok, with a video posted by @zaidleppelin that was viewed more than 3 million times. In it, Zaid Khan says, “I recently learned about this term called 'quiet quitting' where you're not outright quitting your job but you're quitting the idea of going above and beyond.”
The concept is self-explanatory: Hustle culture and pressure to give your absolute all—your time, your priority, regardless of consequence—to you job is in question. You can burn out or quit, or you can step back and put your job in its proper bandwidth capacity in your life. You don’t have to commit all of you to your job. You can do enough, do it well, and feel good about it. Quiet quitting is boundary setting; a way of staying in your job but no longer allowing it to dominate all your time and energy.
Defining work satisfaction today
One aspect of this noticeable shift away from workers’ willingness to pour themselves entirely into their jobs, going beyond actual job expectations and committed working hours, is workers today are concerned with more than money.
Salary, while important and still a key element of job satisfaction, is no longer the main driver of why we work, and is losing its “carrot” capacity in encouraging people to go that extra mile at work. Work-life balance, feeling passionate about your work, feeling happy each day with what you do… these are all factors that are trumping a baseline salary in terms of what motivates today’s workers, and how we measure success.