By now you would have heard about the “quiet quitting” trend that has hit workplaces worldwide where workers are doing the “bare minimum” at work, a complete reversal of the age-old going above and beyond at work. Clocking out at 6pm on the dot, steering clear of extra tasks at work and flying under the radar are just some examples of how workers are “quiet quitting”.
But how did the workforce end up going down this way? Experiencing burnout at work is one of the main culprits that might have triggered such behaviour. A 2022 Global Talent Trends Study revealed that 85% of Singapore-based employees admitted that they feel at risk of burnout this year. 20% of respondents reported feeling de-energised at work and 50% were planning to resign in the next 6 to 12 months. Such feelings were amplified even more with the COVID pandemic, where many people had multiple mental health stressors.
Quiet quitting seems like a good way to detach from the pressures of work and a new push towards work-life balance made the concept of quiet quitting more popular. But this phenomenon may actually harm your career, here’s why:
It affects your professional brand
When you do just the do the bare minimum at work, it does not go unnoticed by co-workers and superiors. This negatively affects your professional brand by making it easy for others to stereotype you as someone who is not a go-getter nor a team player. Neither can you be counted on to pick up extra work if needed and you would be labeled as someone who always puts their personal priorities before work responsibilities. These stereotypes can stay with you for a long time and are hard to change once people perceive you a certain way. Current jobs are always stepping stones for future ones and some might miss out good opportunities because of this negative stereotyping of you.
Workplace relationships suffer
You might think quiet quitting affects yourself alone but it actually has a compounded effect on those who work alongside you. This is especially so when your co-workers do not feel that you are pulling your weight within the team. Unequal workloads, due to you shying away from extra work that might help take the burden off other team members or not volunteering for work which others then have to take on more of, takes a toll on team morale. Co-workers might not look kindly on someone for “just wanting to cruise” and this will affect how they view and interact with you, potentially causing alienation and in turn more stress at work.
You don’t get to truly grow
When you think about their career, you should think long-term. Instead of quiet quitting a role that you obviously do not have passion for, a solution would be to look for another job that will spur your learning and reignite your passion. Some periods of difficulty at work might actually help one sharpen their mettle, foster better teamwork as co-workers work together to overcome obstacles and train one how to better problem solve. Conversely, mentally “checking out” for too long will hamper your growth and lead you to stagnate at work, possibly getting stuck in a vicious downward cycle.
Don’t compromise on your mental health, reach out for help if you feel overwhelmed
Quiet quitting might help keep you from feeling burnout in the short term but might have detrimental long-term effects. Some better solutions would be to:
Engage your boss – Speak with him / her if you are finding it too hard to manage and balance your work and life responsibilities and see if there are some adjustments to the workload that can be made. You can also have an open conversation on whether you should explore other roles if you really can’t do it all anymore.
Take mental well-being breaks – Instead of prolonged quiet quitting, take the necessary days or weeks off that you need to rest and recharge. This helps take you out of the situation to focus on your well-being before coming back to the workplace where you can then go back to contributing meaningfully.
Build a support network – Family, friends and even colleagues play an important role in helping you cope with stressors that come your way. Instead of getting in over your head at work, leveraging co-workers for support is a much better way to overcome burnout than disengaging. Co-workers and superiors might be able to guide you through work challenges or better yet, shoulder them with you.
Ultimately, quiet quitting can be detrimental to the individual, co-workers and the organisation. Now, imagine an organisation where most have quiet quit…
Workers need to be mindful when they start feeling unmotivated, dissatisfied, and disengaged and work on overcoming these challenges.