Wednesday 21 September 2022, 09:15

Lately I don’t seem to be able to open my social media platforms without bumping into something related to 'quiet quitting'.

For those who haven’t heard about this concept (not sure if there is anyone like that at this point), it refers to employees not going above and beyond for their employer but doing their job and what is expected of them within the timeframe that is expected of them.

This means no overtime, no unpaid extra mile for the business.

As an ex-researcher, ex-big four employee and current employee engagement expert, here is my opinion on why 'quiet quitting' is a hyped term that describes something that has been on the market for a long time, and why we should still talk about it.

The first article I read about this subject has been shared with me by one of our managing directors, the subject hit close to home as we work with different companies advising them on how they can engage and retain their employees on the long term. When I read the first few lines of the article, I got extremely furious but gave it a try anyway. The rest of the article did not convince me either. It gave a detailed explanation on why this trend is worrying, how the younger generations do not want to put extra time and energy into their work and how that will harm the future of companies.

A lot of articles later, I am surprised having to read so few of them about how companies should react to this trend by changing their company cultures, instead of pointing fingers at the younger generations.

For decades successful companies relied on unpaid overtime, employees going above and beyond and staying at a company for a long time. This eventually led to high profits for companies, but it also led to high burn-out rates and people losing interest and passion for what they did.

The formula of ‘Be successful in your career + Get the big money = Be happy’ did not work out for a lot of people, me being one of them.

Throughout the past 8 years of my career, I got to the brink of burn-out several times, I lost interest and passion for what I did. I gave all I had and got fired, worked days and nights to get things done for companies that could not care less about me or my needs.

Like so many like-minded, driven people, I was lost in the jungle of overtime and unrealistic expectations, and I was tired and unhappy. I was looking for purpose that I could never find. It seemed far-fetched to think that all those tasks I worked on had any other purpose in life than bringing money to a company that did not care.

Around the 2010s, when I was around 20, my generation hit the job market. Millennials got a lot of critique, they were (as they said back then) “lazy” and “didn’t want to work hard”.

Today the same is said about Gen-Z in the context of 'quiet quitting'. On the surface they seem lazy and not compliant with the expectations of the current job market, however, this somehow does not add up once you start a conversation with most millennials or Gen-Zers. Studies show that younger generations find it important to have purpose in their job.  What started with the millennials rebelling against status quo, continued into a simple boundary setting in Gen-Z.

Studies also show that the trend of 'quiet quitting' has been ongoing for the past decades but combine the high connectivity of the 21st century with generations that are encouraged to speak their mind and you get a trend that points out decade-long problems on the job market.

Exactly for this reason some articles point out that we shouldn’t pay attention to this trend because this is neither something new, neither is there anything wrong with people doing exactly what is asked of them and nothing more.


Eszter Mészáros

"There is nothing wrong with ‘simply’ doing your job well and not in an ‘Excellent-Amazing-Wow’ way but there is something wrong with losing interest and passion for it."

But this trend is not a case of mass hysteria around an unimportant subject, it touches a lot of people for a good reason. And we should definitely talk about it.

There is nothing wrong with ‘simply’ doing your job well and not in an ‘Excellent-Amazing-Wow’ way but there is something wrong with losing interest and passion for it. No, we do not all have to do something that changes the world, but we all need to have a purpose when we perform an activity for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 40 years long.

Purpose, mission, values, etc. must be created by a company not by an employee but employees represent these in their everyday tasks, towards each other and towards the clients.

It is therefore time that companies take their responsibility towards their people. If they would like to see engaged employees who do their best (even if only during the working hours), companies must invest in creating a workplace where people feel engaged and where they find purpose.

This change is long-overdue and companies who go above and beyond for their people will be those that withstand challenges thrown in their way.

Stepping away from the one-sided relationship between employees and companies, it is time that we finally find a balance and companies work on giving what they would like to get back. Trust, interest and purpose.