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What is quiet quitting? And are you doing it?

Updated: Feb 9

If you are quietly quitting does it matter? And if it does, what can you do about it?

You may well have heard the phrase ‘quiet quitting’ recently – it’s certainly all over LinkedIn and apparently TikTok too.

A quick Google shows that it’s about ‘doing your job and no more’, and that it started as a trend on TikTok in China, in response to employers demanding more and more from their people.

So what’s the problem with that, you may ask? Why should you do more than you’re paid for?

If you employ a window cleaner, do you expect them to do more than clean your windows? Or do you pay them for 2 hours but expect them to work for 3 hours?

For many people this way of working isn’t a bad thing at all. I’ve had some employees who worked their ‘9-5’ and did an excellent job in that time, always achieving their goals.

To my mind, there are two ways quiet quitting can be detrimental to our health and our career.

When quiet quitting is a response to unreasonable demands

  • Maybe your manager just keeps piling on the work, with no regard for how or when you can fit it in.

  • Maybe people have left the team and not been replaced but their work is still there and you’re told you need to ‘help pick up the slack’.

  • Maybe your manager loves their job so much they’re willing to put in a lot of extra hours and expect you to do the same even though you have other priorities that also need your time (including yourself).

  • Maybe you have been putting in a lot of discretionary effort but it’s never appreciated and you’re feeling undervalued.

  • Maybe you’re feeling more and more stressed at work and you need to pull back as a preservation response.

If any of these ring a bell you may feel you have no control over the situation and that ‘quiet quitting’ is the only option available to you.

In fact, quiet quitting may well be a precursor (conscious or unconscious) to actually quitting your role.

All of these are ‘push factors’ that can lead you to conclude you just need to get away from your role / employer before it pushes you over the edge. They can damage your career confidence, deplete you of energy and make it hard to be your best self when looking for another role.

When quiet quitting is in response to being unfulfilled in your work - or worse

  • Maybe you've realised you're in the wrong job and need a complete change of direction to feel more motivated and fulfilled.

  • Maybe you're in the right job but the wrong company – you love what you do but a misalignment with purpose and values is having a negative impact on how you feel about your work.

  • Maybe you’re in the right company but the wrong job – you love the culture but are bored and need a challenge.

  • Worst-case scenario - you're in a toxic culture and this has caused the psychological contract to break down. There's rarely any coming back from this.

But you don’t know how to figure out your next move and meanwhile you’re ‘scaling back’ on your commitment and enthusiasm for your current role. If you’re used to putting in discretionary effort you may start to feel guilty for this change and it’s highly likely to be noticed by your team, colleagues and leaders.

How can you take control of your career?

Quiet quitting is passive. You’re withdrawing your energy, enthusiasm and effort probably without saying or doing anything else. It can help in the short-term, in any of the above scenarios.

Longer-term it’s likely to be detrimental to your career and your health. It can lead to feelings of powerlessness and even resentment. It can lead to you being overlooked for opportunities and to feeling more bored and resentful.

Being a passenger in your career will get you somewhere – but will it be where you want to go? It may just take you round in circles!

So how can you be more active?

Becoming the driver in your career enables you to set your direction – where you’re going, how and when you’re going to get there.

Usually just making the decision to take control is empowering and motivating.

So you’ve made the decision to take control of your career? What’s next?

Understanding why you’re quietly quitting is essential to making a change – or at least, the right change (you don’t want to find yourself in the same situation in your next role).

What’s missing for you in this role? What’s essential for you to feel happy in your work?

My Career Audit free download can help you pinpoint what’s missing for you currently and therefore what you want to look out for in your next role.

Understanding your strengths and values is really valuable in determining the type of work you want to do and the right organisational culture for you, especially if you're unfulfilled and demotivated by your current work.

Check out my Strengths Profile coaching services here. Everyone has a lightbulb moment (or several!) when exploring their unique mix of strengths and what energises them!

My blog How to change your career when you don’t know what to do will help you think through what you want to do next, so you can use your strengths.

My 7 steps to career change success free download takes you through 7 steps to making a successful change. once you know what change you want to make.

And of course, my career & strengths coaching is designed specifically to help you make a successful change in your career! From a single session to a full programme, from exploring your strengths to writing your CV, I can help you. Check out my career services here and get in touch if you have any questions.

Karen Felton | Career development mentor | Career change success | CompassHR

Karen is a Career development mentor and coach, enabling people to thrive in their career through understanding their strengths.

She has over 25 years’ experience in HR and Financial Services, leading teams, coaching and mentoring people, developing leaders and enabling people to achieve their career goals. She is passionate about enabling people to be their best selves so they can perform at their best in work and in life.

Learn more about Karen here

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