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‘Quiet quitting’ trend can be stopped by bosses but workers should be more up-front


The controversial practice of ‘quiet quitting’ will never be the best solution for burnt-out workers but it’s up to bosses to stop it from happening, a workplace expert says.

Gen-Z and millennial workers have been driving the so-called trend of ‘quiet quitting’, where they stay in their job but refuse to do more work than they’re contractually-obliged to, including working only their exact hours.

But workplace culture expert Claire Hopkins has warned quiet quitting was really a warning sign that workers had been pushed too far by bosses.

That means unless this is brought out into the open with honest conversations between workers and bosses the problem will only persist to the detriment of all, she explained.  

‘There are misunderstandings around the concept of “quiet quitting”,’ she said.

‘Some believe the expression means doing the bare minimum or even pretending to work. 

‘In reality, the popularity of this discussion reflects how many workers are feeling burned out and exhausted after almost three years of a challenging work environment.’

RMIT Online CEO Claire Hopkins argues that 'quiet quitting' is really a sign that workers have been pushed too far

RMIT Online CEO Claire Hopkins argues that ‘quiet quitting’ is really a sign that workers have been pushed too far

Ms Hopkins, who is the CEO at RMIT Online, said post-Covid workplaces, where more people are working from home, along with instant and constant communication were ‘blurring the lines between work and a personal life’.

‘Workers are finding it increasingly difficult to disconnect from their workplace,’ she said.

She also pointed to bosses who were ‘prioritising time spent at work or responsiveness after-hours as a way to measure individual performance and success’. 

With Australia experiencing severe staff shortages and low unemployment drying up the supply of workers, the pressure has been ratcheted up in many professional situations.

Adding to this has been workers needing to isolate for Covid exposure or staying at home with sniffles that they previously would have ignored. Small businesses especially have been feeling the pinch.

Workplace burnout has become a serious issue with many companies struggling to find enough employees or losing staff to Covid absences

Workplace burnout has become a serious issue with many companies struggling to find enough employees or losing staff to Covid absences

An American Express survey found 47 per cent of small business owners said their mental health and wellbeing suffered because they weren’t able to take time off for a holiday during the pandemic. 

Nine economics writer Jessica Irvine argued that in this environment ‘quiet quitting’ needed to be done more noisily. 

‘What I object to is the “quiet” nature of the movement, when what we need right now is an assertive and noisy discussion of the appropriate boundaries between our home and working lives,’ she wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald

‘Clearly, the Covid-19 pandemic threw our working and home lives into disarray. Almost overnight, our homes became offices, school yards, shopping centres and cinemas. Lines blurred and our mental health suffered. 

‘I think “quiet quitting” strikes such a chord because as individuals we are starting to realise we’ve safeguarded too few hours of the day for non-work time, in which we can optimise our overall health and wellbeing.’

Irvine argued there needed to be more  ‘open and honest conversation with managers about the limited number of hours in the day’.

This would especially benefit female workers ‘who still bear the disproportionate share of caring duties’.

Ms Hopkins agreed and made some suggestions for employers to avoid having workers ‘checking out’ while still occupying their desks or logging in at home. 

‘Companies should turn their focus to measurable goals which align to key business outcomes,’ she said.

Other terms used that mean roughly the same thing as 'quiet quitting are 'boundary settings', 'meeting expectations', 'work-to-rule' and 'lying flat' (stock image)

Other terms used that mean roughly the same thing as ‘quiet quitting are ‘boundary settings’, ‘meeting expectations’, ‘work-to-rule’ and ‘lying flat’ (stock image)

‘Encouraging performance over “hours clocked” and open communication from employers to promote honesty and transparency between staff, is critical to positively impact business engagement scores and result in happier employees.’ 

Melbourne career expert Sue Ellson previously told Daily Mail Australia ‘quiet quitting’ could backfire if the change in behaviour is noticed by others, particularly managers. 

‘You may need to explain why your behaviour has changed and be ready to do so,’ she said. 

‘Reacting in frustration and saying that you are tired of “doing more work than everyone else” in the heat of the moment is not the answer.’

Ms Ellson encouraged workers to be honest with their bosses.

‘At the end of the day, the relationship between employee and employer needs to be one of mutual respect, empathy and commitment,’ she said.

WHAT IS ‘QUIET QUITTING’? 

‘Quiet quitting’ rejects the idea that work has to take over your life and that employees should go above and beyond what their job descriptions entail

Will still doing their jobs and all the tasks it entails, ‘quiet quitters’ are refusing to do extra hours, or extra work, without any extra pay 

It can also include turning down projects they’re not interested in and refusing to answer work messages outside of working hours 

Source: LinkedIn 

A viral TikTok video where user @zkchillin explained why he was cutting back on work efforts has been viewed over 2.7 million times and there are plenty of other similar testimonies.

‘I recently learnt about this term called “quiet quitting” where you’re not outright quitting your job but you’re quitting the idea of going above and beyond at work,’ he said.

‘The implied “rule” of quiet quitting is that you still get the job done. Don’t ever lose sight of the value exchange.’

In his viral video @zkchillin said that it was important to put work into perspective.

‘You’re still performing your duties but you’re no longer subscribing to the hustle culture and mentality that work has to be your life,’ he said

‘The reality is it’s not and your worth as a person is not defined by your productive output.’

Other terms that roughly mean the same thing as ‘quiet quitting’ are ‘boundary settings’, ‘meeting expectations’, ‘work-to-rule’ and ‘lying flat’.

Ms Hopkins said bosses need to find other ways to measure work performance than hours clocked or responsiveness out of hours

Ms Hopkins said bosses need to find other ways to measure work performance than hours clocked or responsiveness out of hours



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