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‘Quiet quitting': What it is and why people are doing it

Man lying on grass
Attitudes to work are shifting in the wake of the pandemic, some argue. (Source: Getty)

‘Quiet quitting’ is a new term that’s surfaced on social media in the wake of ‘The Great Resignation’ and what some are describing as a general discontentment with ‘hustle culture’.

Similar to the notion of ‘lying flat’ that emerged last year in China in response to a culture of relentless hard work, quiet quitting basically refers to doing the bare minimum in your role rather than going above and beyond.

The term has been circulating online via a TikTok by @zkchillin, who described the phenomenon as, “performing your duties but you are no longer subscribing to the hustle-culture mentality where work has to be your life”.

“The reality is it’s not, and your worth is not defined by your labour,” the TikToker explained.


The video has attracted a lot of attention - around 2.6 million views - with some arguing people should only ever be doing the work they are paid for.

“I do what I am compensated for,” one commenter wrote. “There is no grace or nobelium in wildly over extending yourself as a paid employee.”

Others pointed out how important it was to ‘work smart, not hard’ to do well in the modern workforce.

However, some said colleagues typically ended up picking up the slack when workers chose not to work as hard.

Another TikTok by career coach Bryan Creely (@alifeafterlayoff) said quiet quitting was the product of a, “seismic shift in how people view work and their relationship with the work arrangement” over the past 12-18 months.

“We’re all familiar with The Great Resignation - people are getting fed up with their jobs, the long hours, the toxic environments, the poor pay,” Creely said.

“But those of us who grew up in hustle culture have this incessant need of ‘work work work’, and work becomes the main priority in life to get ahead.”

While Creely was not advocating for “being lazy on the job”, he said there would be a lot of people quiet quitting at the moment - especially at a time when employers were desperate to find workers amid tight labour markets.

“Obviously, it’s not a long-term strategy, or for those of you who care about climbing the corporate ladder,” he said.

“But if you don’t, and you feel a bit burned out, maybe dial it back a bit, because you won’t be the only one.”

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