Quiet Quitting: Why It’s Not the Answer You Think – And What Is

September 30, 2022

The stresses of the pandemic caused many individuals to re-evaluate their lives and change their relationships to work.

The upheavals and massive changes of the last two and a half years made many people feel overwhelmed and resentful. That they lack control and agency in their lives. And their reaction is to put themselves first.

For some this can mean quitting, leaving the job altogether – and for others, “quiet quitting”, refusing to do all but the most critical parts of their jobs. Both are reactions to situations that seem insurmountable.

Opting out is a short-term reaction

Both may bring some satisfaction in the short-term, but in our experience as coaches, there are usually deeper issues that need to be addressed to achieve long-term satisfaction, fulfillment, and happiness. It requires dedicated introspection to uncover and understand what we really want. What truly brings us joy. What fills us up.

Changing jobs or quietly backing away from work doesn’t answer any of these questions. And as long as they remain unanswered, it will be a challenge to find fulfillment. That’s because we’re energized by doing what we love, helping others, and working hard on things that matter to us. By connecting to the people around us and sharing experiences with them.

Quiet quitting can be especially unhealthy because it impacts not just the individual who’s making the unilateral decision to opt out, but everyone around them. That’s because a career is a series of relationships. When we choose not to take on that extra project, someone else has to – and we miss out on the chance to have a good dialogue around it. To share a part of ourselves with our team so they understand us better – and vice versa. To forge stronger bonds of trust and acceptance.

And quiet quitting impacts the social aspect of the business, too. When we choose not to join our colleagues at a group lunch or team-building event, we lose an opportunity to contribute to a more vibrant culture. To create a better environment for ourselves and everyone else. And in the long run, quiet quitters start to feel unhappy about the impact their lack of engagement has on the people and the work environment around them.

Engaging and communicating offer long-term solutions

Rather than quietly side-stepping work, a better, longer-term strategy is to open up and communicate. Talk to your colleagues about what’s making you unhappy and ask for help. Speak to your boss about what truly engages you, and work together to get the balance right.

Things like working with some clients and not others. Working fewer days per week. Starting and leaving earlier. Taking a secondment to travel or spend time alone to figure out what you really want to do. Or trying out a role in another part of the business that’s always interested you.

Working with your boss and colleagues to create the career that ignites you and makes you thrive is possible. Most organizations want their people to be happy and rewarded, and they want to be fair to people.

Finding a mentor or coach at your organization or in your network can help you through the process. But doing the work now – responding rather than reacting, investing in yourself, rather than focusing on yourself – is the only real answer. One that will help fuel your career and your sense of fulfilment for the long term.

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