Quiet Quitting: The New Leadership Boogeyman

If you click on any business or leadership-related blog recently, you’ve probably bumped into the new leadership boogeyman: QUIET QUITTING.

Quiet Quitting isn’t ghosting an employer by not showing up and quitting that way. Instead, Quiet Quitting is a movement by employees to leave work on time, ignore unimportant emails or calls after hours, and set personal boundaries.

Big business websites have begun to say this is a pandemic. Something needs to change. They’ve even roped in leaders of large organizations to decry the movement of boundaries and distance between work and home—the same ones who have the freedom to mix their work and personal life with abandon.

Air trolly going into clouds or fog

Photo by Joe Green on Unsplash

It’s easy to say, “Pick up your cell phone at 7 PM” when you’re off to the gym during business hours. Or to say that employees are entitled when they feel they’ve put in their agreed-upon 40-hour work.

People are tired. They’re tired of living lives that are nothing but work. Finally, people are making a stink about it via mediums such as TikTok and YouTube.

What Is Quiet Quitting?

Pinning down precisely what Quiet Quitting is has been difficult. Everyone seems to have a unique definition of this trend. In a New York Times article, multiple definitions were tossed around. They include:

  • Quiet Quitting is mentally checking out from work.
  • Quiet Quitting is not accepting additional work without additional pay.

Other sites define Quiet Quitting as:

  • Quiet Quitting is setting boundaries at work.
  • Quiet Quitting means not going above and beyond the scope of your job description.
  • Quiet Quitting is doing the bare minimum to not get fired.
  • Quiet Quitting is fulfilling your job duties but nothing more.

As you can see, nailing down Quiet Quitting can be difficult. No one agrees on a specific definition. But many leaders see Quiet Quitting as a dangerous thing for the office.

I disagree. Quiet Quitting isn’t necessarily bad. It’s not the new boogeyman, though many are trying to say it is.

Rather, Quiet Quitting is an employee’s way of letting leaders know they have a life outside work. A life they see their leaders living but demanding that their employees don’t.

The Quiet Quitting Hypocrisy

I may ruffle some feathers here. I’m not sorry about that. But the complaints about Quiet Quitting are seen as hypocritical by many workers.

Why?

Because they see the leadership teams of many organizations doing their personal business during office hours, they’re taking personal calls, running errands, and even working out during the time work is supposed to be done.

People notice what you do during the workday. You may not realize it but they do. Those extended trips where no one knows where you went, someone notices. The times you come back sweaty from a midday workout, they notice.

They see you getting time to take care of your personal business throughout the day. They can’t. Then, when you demand they take those after-hour phone calls or business meetings, they get upset.

Not because they’re lazy or entitled. No, because they’re taking time out of their personal hours to do business work. Not just that. But they do this for people who are using their business hours for personal tasks.

That’s the Quiet Quitting hypocrisy. Leaders are frustrated because employees are separating their personal lives from their work lives while intermingling their personal and work lives with no opportunity for their employees to do the same.

Quiet Quitting: The New Leadership Boogeyman

I’ve been harsh in this article. I think it’s needed.

Quiet Quitting isn’t a new boogeyman. Quiet Quitting is the desire by your people to have a life where they can accomplish what they need to accomplish.

They don’t see it as possible when putting in an extra 10-20 hours a week without additional pay. There’s no way they can exercise, renew their minds and spirits, and pursue passions that inspire them.

Let’s stop looking at Quiet Quitting as a negative. It’s not scary. It’s reality.

You can help your people. Here’s how:

  • Create a policy that business phone calls after hours include a premium to their hourly rate or a bonus upon their salary.
  • If you allow yourself time during the business day to go to the gym, let your team members do the same.
  • Have a learning library within your organization. Allow your people to check out and read these books during the workday.

These are but a few suggestions to encourage your employees to stop Quiet Quitting. It won’t work for every team member but you may find a few working harder or later because you showed you noticed their extra hard work.

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