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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Minnikin

The quiet quitting debate is proof that work is fucked

Everywhere you look, people are talking about ‘quiet quitting’: the idea of only working within the boundaries of your job requirements. So you show up for work and complete your duties, but you don’t do more than your job requires. You don’t answer emails outside of office hours or take on additional work, you simply do the job you’re paid to do.

After a TikTok video on quiet quitting went viral recently, the phenomenon is being hailed as a new trend among workers, particularly millennials and Gen Z, and is being debated by business leaders across all sectors.

A nonsense notion

The notion of quiet quitting has caused much controversy among business leaders, who see it as the demise of the work ethic. Equally the idea has received backlash from supporters of a healthy life/work balance and wellbeing, who argue that it should be enough for people to fulfil the duties of the roles they have been employed in. Guess which camp I fall into…

The question I have is: how have we managed to demonise employees for simply doing their jobs?! The fact that employee boundaries are deemed an act of rebellion tells you exactly how fucked work is.

For me, quiet quitting is just more proof that the ‘morality’ of capitalism is utter nonsense. It teaches us that the harder you work, the more willing you are to violate your own boundaries and the more you de-prioritise your wellbeing for the good of the business, the better you are as a person.

In a fucked workplace, your worth as an employee is measured on how much you're willing to burn yourself out.

Getting real

Businesses don’t like to hear it, but the truth is: work should fundamentally be a simple and transparent transaction between employer and employee. An employer agrees to provide a wage for a certain standard and volume of work over a number of hours. Employees do not owe companies any more than that.

Unfortunately, it has become normalised that going ‘the extra mile’ is just part and parcel of being employed and the only chance a worker has of being perceived as a good employee, let alone securing pay rises or promotions.

Expecting workers to go above and beyond simply to avoid being marked out as ‘bad’ is unethical, unsustainable and goes some way to explaining why morale is at an all-time low. Only just over a fifth of global employees feel engaged in the workplace - meaning a whopping 79% are dissatisfied with their work.

It’s no surprise then that the pandemic triggered The Great Resignation, which saw millions of workers abandon sub-standard employers and mediocre benefits for something better. After all, who wants to be expected to give 110% (which isn’t even mathematically possible, by the way) just to be seen as adequate?

Quiet quitting itself is a perfectly acceptable act, but labelling it in such a way is a symptom of a sick work culture that desperately needs to be unfucked.

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