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What’s wrong with Quiet Quitting? It’s in the name.

Over the last three years, the presence of COVID-19 has truly tested our mental health. It has also
challenged us to rethink our life priorities. Working from home and spending more time with family
has given many of us space, independence and downtime to consider what matters to us, what we
are capable of, and what we want our own futures to look like.

The ‘quiet-quitting’ phenomenon is a good example of this: a movement to put boundaries on the
expectations employers make, and sticking firmly to set duties rather than going above and beyond.
We are more conscious of ‘presence-bleed’ now – an expectation to be passively available to one’s
employer or clients at all times, keep the inbox under control and attend to any matters of urgency
regardless of the time or day, and how that interferes with our newer outlook on life. Quiet quitting
is about taking back control, being online during set hours and making room for other people, other
projects and other sources of happiness that life can offer us once we are off the clock.
So what’s the problem here? Two words. Quiet and quitting.

Humans are not naturally motivated to settle. Most of us thrive on positive reinforcement, reward
and recognition of our unique needs through communication with supervisors, clients and peers.
Quiet means a withdrawal of that communication, a lack of confidence that our workplace can really
understand what makes us tick, and negative self-talk that the employer relationship is all one-sided.
If you or someone you know has been unhappy with their job and uttered the phrase “It’s fine, I’ll
just stop caring so much”, you know it’s only a matter of time until they are SO unhappy that finding
a new job is inevitable. Quiet means that we can’t be bullied into working harder, but it also shuts
off our perception that employment can be a source of growth, resolution and change either. If you
stick entirely to the script, your job misses out on your ideas, your individuality, your solutions and
your ambition to change things for the better. It misses the best of you.

Quitting offers moments for change. When you quit a job, the world becomes radiant with
possibility and opportunity again. The next step will be better, whether it involves a new employer,
travel, study or working for yourself. Except – quiet quitting is not about quitting at all: it’s a step
back from feeling unrewarded by extra personal exertion. You’re still in the same job, but hopefully
making space for other things. Changes in your own life might refresh your enthusiasm for your own
pursuits, fitness and the people you love, but it might also create mental blocks around your
professional ambition. Can you achieve life balance while also desiring more from your career? How
can you prove that you are the right candidate for a new internal project when you have decided
that boundaries come first? The greatest weakness of quitting but not quitting is that there is no
next step. The status quo remains. The joy in opportunities around the corner fade. Maybe the faith
is not there that they will ever come, so the next best thing is a mental fortress which protects us
from pain and hope that things can change.
COVID-19 has certainly changed the way we see work. It’s not everything any more. Busyness is
overrated. Fun, family and a different future give us hope in taking back control, customising our
time and being present for other things that feel worthy. However, that ambitious instinct won’t lay
dormant forever. To quit quietly ignores our deep need to test ourselves, belong to a group we feel

good about, take pride in our efforts and keep examining our professional problems in new ways,
looking for solutions. If quiet quitting seems appealing, maybe it’s time for quiet reflection, quiet
research and quiet preparation for speaking and acting on what you do want. If your life is going to
change in 2023, let that positivity into your work, too.