Quiet quitting: Millennials with experience explain

Quiet quitting: Millennials with experience explain

A new term recently flooded the zeitgeist: quiet quitting. Nearly a quarter, 21% of working Americans say they themselves are quiet quitters, according to an August 2022 ResumeBuilder.com survey of 1,000 workers.

A TikTok user who goes by zaidleppelin kickstarted the conversation with a video he posted on July 25. “I recently learned 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,” he says in the video, which has racked up 3.4 million views as of the publication of this article.

With so many people weighing in, the term has since evolved to include a wider set of definitions.

“To me, quietly quitting just comes back to setting your boundaries about what your outputs are going to look like at work,” Amanda Henry, who made a series of videos about the topic on her TikToklike CNBC Make It.

“For some, that might mean just doing the bare minimum because that’s all they have to give at the moment for a variety of reasons. For others, it just means not burning yourself out.”

These kinds of attitudes are not new: As comedian Josh Gondelman wrote on Twitter, the idea of ​​”mailing it in” has a “rich and storied history.”

Still, the recent hype around the term has begun a vibrant discussion about what setting boundaries at work can look like. Here are three millennials who have taken part in quiet quitting, and a look at who might be excluded.

‘I’m not going to overwork myself anymore’

Daniella Flores, who uses they/them pronouns, was working in IT at a financial company in June 2021 when they decided to quiet quit. Eventually, they quit their job altogether.

“A lot of people that work in tech and IT have this problem where it’s really rare in the beginning of your career to be working 40 hours a week,” says the Port Orchard, Washington-based 32-year-old. At the time, they were putting in between 50 and 60 hours per week.

At some point they realized that the extra time they were spending picking up last-minute tickets and taking on work beyond the scope of their job title wasn’t worthwhile. When they brought up the desire to get a title and compensation change, they say their boss brushed them off.

That’s when something clicked. “I’m not going to overwork myself anymore,” Flores says they decided. They switched teams and told their new boss upfront that they were blocking off time in their calendar to focus on their assigned work and avoid taking on unnecessary meetings. That cut their hours to between 40 and 45 a week.

Daniella Flores.

Courtesy Daniella Flores

Flores formally quit their corporate job altogether in June of this year to run their side hustle-focused blog I Like To Dabble full time and take on other creative projects.

“Our institutions need to take notice,” they say. “Why are we calling just doing your job quiet quitting?”

Quiet quitting is ‘a survival tactic’

Maggie Perkins.

Courtesy Maggie Perkins

Eventually, she found ways to build boundaries even during the school day. When her school couldn’t find a sub to fill in for another teacher, for example, and she was asked to fill in during an hour otherwise allotted to grading papers and prepping for class, she still used the time to do just that. She’d tell the students she was subbing for, “here’s the work you will be doing, and here’s the work I will be doing.”

Like Flores, Perkins quit altogether in 2020 to pursue her PhD in language and literacy education. An advocate for teachers, she has made a series of TikTok videos about quiet quitting, including one with tips for them specifically like don’t bring work home and don’t spend your paycheck on your classroom.

For her, quiet quitting is “a survival tactic,” she says. “It’s a coping mechanism. It’s just giving more life to a career that I love and I miss.”

‘Quiet quitting is a self-care tactic’

For Clayton Farrisa 41-year-old freelance writer and content creator based in Los Angeles, quiet quitting is more about a mental switch than any specific change in his schedule or boundary setting with an employer.

“Quiet quitting is allowing yourself to put other things before work without feeling bad about it,” he says.

It’s a switch he started making during the pandemic when he found himself constantly worrying whether or not his clients were happy and where his next job was coming from. Though he typically works about 30 hours per week, with all of the anxiety about work even when he wasn’t actively engaging in it, “it felt like I was working 50,” he says.

Clayton Farris.

Courtesy Clayton Farris

Having adopted this latest attitude, however, “whenever I send an email and I’m waiting for a response,” he says, “I’m literally closing my computer, and I’m going to the beach.” Worrying about a response will not make it come any faster, he says he realized.

“Quiet quitting is a self-care tactic,” he says. It’s about mentally disengaging from his work life when he’s not actually doing his job.

For some, boundaries are ‘a little bit harder to navigate’

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