Why quiet quitting? This is the question that I try to answer in this post. My purpose? By finding out the reasons, we could prepare ourselves for the next job hunting or even for our current predicament. For some decision makers who read this, I hope you might find a better solution that works for both parties by understanding what’s behind it.
Different Types of Quiet Quitting
Sure, most people know this term now but I think I need to establish that there are different levels of quiet quitting.
Let’s see the definition of this quiet quitting. Most common definition is “the act of doing the bare minimum – just as long as not getting fired – in the office with your job.”
However, this definition is too broad which, I think, is not fair to the people. Currently, I could find that there are three different types of quiet quitting.
First, some people do the bare minimum because simply it’s their ‘mantra’. I know some people who think like this, “It’s not in my job description. It doesn’t belong to my roles and responsibilities.”
It’s not my style but I don’t blame those people too. I mean it’s not wrong to do the only job we are hired to do. Programmers are hired to do programming. As long as they do that, they don’t need to make coffee or kiss the client’s ass.
Second, I think there are some people who do the bare minimum because simply it’s their limited capacity. These people don’t have any ‘malicious’ intentions or any awful experience with their bosses or company. For example, some people have a family that needs extra care so they don’t have the time to do more work in the office.
Another sample, it could be that the job is not a good fit for the person. Let’s say there is a manager who’s not good with people but he has to handle 5 people under him. So, he just did whatever he could do – like doing the bare minimum. This thing happened. Bad management is everywhere. Biases and prejudices could be found in any company.
Lastly, this is what I called the ‘real’ quiet quitters. At first, these people had high hopes for the company. They are also more than capable to handle their roles and beyond. They are actually willing to put in some extra work for whatever reasons – personal achievements, better career chances, or any kind of different reasons. However, something happened and they lost hope.
IMO, those are the 3 different types of quiet quitting. Now, here are the 5 reasons why people do that. These 5 reasons aren’t just from the third type and they could be intertwined with each other.
The Love of Status Quo
I do believe that most people just prefer being safe. When we try something new, we will make mistakes. Therefore, most people will just do the minimum – to minimize the mistake. This love of status quo applies to the bosses too. Sometimes, people just do what’s being told because the bosses don’t encourage them to improvise or even scold them when trying something new. It obviously doesn’t work only on speech level. I mean I often heard the bosses say, “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Try something new!” Then, when the workers are actually trying something new, the bosses are angry with them. It needs real encouragement – not just empty pep talk.
Every decision that we make is always a gamble. There are always risks and rewards involved in our decision. Most people, I think, prefer the ones with little to no risk – which is the status quo.
Unclear Rewards and Punishments
I see this in so many companies. There are no clear rewards and punishments involved in the company. Some companies just care about punishments, without any rewards. Some others just don’t care at all. Sticks and carrots, they said. I really believe this is important.
For example, a person could get a higher position just because he’s a close friend with the boss – not because he actually has the capabilities. So, people will think, “Why do I need to put in extra work?” Why do I have to work harder?”
Another sample, let’s say there are A and B. They are working for the same company and in the same position. A is doing a good job and willing to work harder. Meanwhile B is just lazy. He couldn’t deliver expected results. It’s even unclear what B has been doing with his time. Unfortunately, there is no punishment for B. What do you think will happen to A? It’s a miracle if A could keep the same spirit to work exceptionally well, if he knows B. And, trust me, everyone knows who the bad egg is. People talk.
In the end, it’s contagious which brings us to the next part.
I do believe this. Good team and a good leader will attract new good talents. However, a bad team and bad management will certainly push good talents away – whether they will do the quiet quitting or quit altogether.
I know sometimes it’s not that easy to remove the bad fruit(s). Most of the time, it’s just easier to let it slide and, again, go with the status quo – pick the safe choice. Also, most of the time, it won’t ruin the company too – by not removing them. It just won’t create an exciting workplace which in turn will produce more quiet quitting workers.
I do think hope is one of the most powerful things for us, humans, to keep going. We will keep fighting when we still have hope. I also believe that everyone of us most likely has hopes when we join new company. You don’t join something if you feel hopeless for them. That’s why some bosses know that it’s important to keep their team in high hopes.
However, those things I mentioned above will certainly make the workers lose hope. Sure, not everybody do quiet quitting but I think loyalty goes both ways. You can’t expect someone to bring new ideas to you, when you never listen to them. You can’t expect a new person to feel excited when the workplace is full of toxic people. You can’t also ask for a commitment when there is no clear path and definitive steps on the way.
Last but not least, as I said before: loyalty goes both ways. It’s easy to blame the workers for the quiet quitting. However, for so long, there is also a quiet firing. I know so many friends who keep doing what they’re doing for years, even more than 10 years. There is no promotion, not even a chance. There is no significant salary adjustment.
Even worse, I know that some bosses even blame those people who are not ‘ambitious’ enough. I know it’s better for us, workers, to be proactive. However, I also know there are some hidden and passive talents that could shine so much brighter if they are given the chance to do more.
Finally, I couldn’t offer a concrete solution or suggestion. Because, I do know that every company, every worker, and every situation are just different — which require different solutions. However, I just hope that exploring the reasons could help everyone to think clearly on this matter. Also, I do know one thing for sure that a work relationship – employee and employer, team leader and team member, or even between colleagues – is just like any relationship (friendship, marriage, or family). It goes both ways.
Feat Image: Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels