Not taking your job too seriously has a new name: quiet quitting.
The phrase is generating millions of views on TikTok as some young professionals reject the idea of going above and beyond in their careers, labeling their lesser enthusiasm a form of “quitting.” It isn’t about getting off the company payroll, these employees say. In fact, the idea is to stay on it — but focus your time on the things you do outside of the office.
“ More than half of workers surveyed by Gallup who were born after 1989 — 54% — fall into the category of ‘not engaged,’ meaning they’ll show up to work and do what’s required but not much else. In other words, they have ‘quiet quit.’”
The videos range from sincere ruminations on work-life balance to snarky jokes. Some set firm boundaries against overtime in favor of family. Others advocate coasting from 9-to-5, doing just enough to get by. Many want to untether their careers from their identities.
Of course, every generation enters the workforce and quickly realizes that having a job isn’t all fun and games. Navigating contemptible bosses and the petty indignities that have always been inflicted on the ranks of working stiffs has never been easy. And many people who say, when they’re young, that they don’t care about climbing the corporate ladder end up changing their minds.
The difference now is that this group has TikTok and hashtags to emote. And these 20-somethings joined the working world during the COVID-19 pandemic, with all of its dislocating effects, including blurred boundaries between work and life. Many workers say they feel they have power to push back in the current strong labor market. Recent data from Gallup shows employee engagement is declining.
Clayton Farris, 41 years old, said that when he recently heard about the new term circulating on social media he realized he’d already been doing it by refusing to let work worries rule over him the way they used to. “The most interesting part about it is nothing’s changed,” he said in his TikTok video. “I still work just as hard. I still get just as much accomplished. I just don’t stress and internally rip myself to shreds.”
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