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Pro-Con Opinion: Examining “Quiet Quitting”

September 22, 2022

A recent TikTok trend has popularized the movement of “quiet quitting”— a trend that examines American hustle culture and work-life balance in a post-pandemic economy and world.

Against “Quiet Quitting”

Yet another innocuous TikTok trend is threatening the development of its teenage demographic—quiet quitting.

The vague term doesn’t have a clear definition from its myriad adherents. However, the crux of this movement is the sentiment that workers must push back against America’s toxic “hustle culture” by not taking on additional work, refusing to answer calls or emails after clocking out, and essentially, doing the bare minimum to squeak by before payday.

While economist Mark Boldger originally coined the term in 2009, “quiet quitting” was thrown into Gen Z’s face through an all-too-infamous platform—TikTok. A multitude of 20-something influencers have marketed the phenomenon, propelling #quietquitting to over 100 million views. 

Quiet quitting may present itself as a way to prioritize a work-life balance and set boundaries against management, but like other filtered social media movements, there’s more to the story.

Arianna Huffington, founder of startup Thrive Global, said it best in a recent viral LinkedIn post: “Quiet quitting isn’t just about quitting on a job, it’s a step toward quitting on life.”

Employees and students alike will find opportunities in their workplaces to challenge themselves, develop valuable connections for both career advancement and friendship, and overall, further personal fulfillment beyond financial compensation. It’s these aspects of a career that exist outside of a job description, and are what quiet quitters lose while defining their livelihoods as a burden. 

Additionally, instead of quietly quitting, why are we not inspiring courage through communication?

If a boss or teacher is putting genuinely unfair expectations or pressure on their employee, that should be an opportunity to voice those concerns directly to management. A recent study from McKinsey & Company found that teams who communicate effectively increase their productivity by 25%. 

But the preachers of quiet quitting don’t emphasize effective communication, therefore stalling the progress of healthy boss-employee relationships and curtailing the personal growth that comes from standing up for yourself. 

Essentially, quiet quitting creates more problems than solutions. It is crucial to cultivate a balanced lifestyle, but students must understand the drawbacks to this movement before entering a consequently underdeveloped workforce that could overtake our already staggering economy and culture. 

For “Quiet Quitting”

The social media platform TikTok has recently popularized a new term: quiet quitting. But what exactly does quiet quitting mean?

A large part of the negative press surrounding “quiet quitting” is due to its misleading name and unclear definition. And, of course, any concept emerging from TikTok or social media in general, such as quiet quitting, is understandably bound to be met with uncertainty. But with Gallup reporting that quiet quitters make up at least 50% of the U.S workforce, this trend is worth further investigation.

The term quiet quitting exploded in prominence after an 24-year-old engineer named Zaid Khan posted a tiktok and explained the term in its narration.

“You’re still performing your duties, but you’re no longer subscribing to the hustle culture mentality that work has to be your life. The reality is it’s not—and your worth as a person is not defined by your labor.”

With this definition, it’s clear that quiet quitting doesn’t involve actually quitting, or even not fulfilling job requirements. Rather, it’s about maintaining a work-life balance, a concept that TikTok definitely did not invent.

Although it’s not a new concept, quiet quitting gained traction now as a form of pushback against hustle culture and a reaction to the pandemic. Deeply ingrained in American society, hustle culture tells people that they can always push past their limits, do more, be better, and work harder; this cultural mindset can quickly create an unhealthy work environment full of burnt out workers.

This sense of an all-consuming job only worsened during the pandemic, when employees were expected to be on perpetual standby for a Zoom meeting or an email. After all, wasn’t working from home instead of in the office already enough relaxation? The surge in quiet quitters replies with a resounding no.

AP Psychology and AP Macroeconomics teacher at Jesuit, Malia Bernards, shared her perspective on the growing awareness of working conditions and mental health in the workplace.

“We’re voting down certain businesses or corporations or small businesses that really weren’t cutting it,” Bernards said. “And I think in the end, we’re all going to be better off for it. You know, maybe we need to have a few restaurants close that didn’t treat their servers well.”

While employers certainly have an incredibly major responsibility to acknowledge the wellbeing of their workers, which phenomena such as the Great Resignation and quiet quitting are drawing attention to, workers also have a collective responsibility.

“It’s like ‘Hey, if the work isn’t good, can we actually unionize and do that together?’ I think that collective orientation is super important,” Bernards offers.

Workplace issues, such as wages and working conditions, do require collective attention and are just as necessary as a work-life balance. That fact can also coexist with the idea that people creating distance between a personal life and a job is extremely valuable, and that healthy objective is at the core of what quiet quitting aims to achieve.

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