What is quiet quitting and does it quash burnout?

A quick summary:

  • What is quiet quitting? 🔎
  • Why is quiet quitting a thing? 💭
  • Is quiet quitting acceptable? ✅
  • 3 strategies to practice burnout or quiet quitting 💡

In recent weeks, there’s been a new term on the block, and that’s ‘quiet quitting’. But what exactly is it, and how are employees leverage this newfound power to prevent burnout? 

Times are changing, but society's battle with hustle culture rages on. We’re now at a tipping point. People are seeking ways to minimise burnout and take better care of themselves. 

Before the pandemic, hustle culture was rife. It was the classic game of ‘who can work the longest, and rest the least.’ Post pandemic, there’s a healthier scenario emerging. 

To put it simply, people are taking better care of themselves and focusing on stronger habits – what’s not to love about that?

In the past week, The Metro has written about ‘quiet quitting’. And in a newsworthy fashion, many other publications have discussed the topic.

Now, it’s time for us at Heka to address quiet quitting. We’ll look at what quiet quitting is, how it can prevent burnout, and if it’s generally an acceptable thing. 

Employees sitting at tables socialising
What is quiet quitting?

What is quiet quitting?

Going back to the source, The Metro describes quiet quitting as not quitting your job entirely, but doing away with the notion of going “above and beyond”. 

It’s an idea that completing your tasks and duties to an acceptable level is all that you should be doing. To go above and beyond isn’t necessary and will only lead to some form of burnout.

Tiktokker @zkchillin recently went viral with his definition of quiet quitting, amassing 400K likes in his 17-second video about the topic... 

Why is quiet quitting a thing?

There are many reasons for the rise of quiet quitting. The biggest of them all, however, is social media. It’s no secret, nor surprise that hustle culture was born on social media. 

Platforms like Instagram and LinkedIn enable people to attract millions of followers and then share their thoughts and opinions on things like life and work.

Of course, with immense access to the internet, the wrong people sometimes end up famous – and there’s plenty! 

When it comes to hustle culture, some of these influencers attribute their success to working hard, working late and ultimately never stopping. 

It sounds admirable, but dig deeper and there’s an unhealthy side to this style of working that just doesn’t deserve recognition.

Outside of the social media realm, there are other reasons for the popularity of quiet quitting, like remote work. 

Although remote work has brought work-life balance into the limelight, many experts suggest people are working above and beyond; unable to disconnect from working at home… at home – can you see the dilemma? 

According to SHRM, around 70 per cent of employees who have transitioned to remote work now find themselves working at the weekend. 

This is undoubtedly going to drive higher burnout rates in employees, and so quiet quitting appears to be gaining some tractions with many people around the world.

Is quiet quitting acceptable in the workplace?

Let’s talk about one of the major concerns. Is quiet quitting acceptable? Can I avoid going above and beyond and still have a successful, yet happy career? Here’s what we think…

Hustle culture is a damaging mindset. Although faster results can be achieved, it can wreak havoc on personal health and wellbeing. 

Those who are constantly chasing some kind of completion of anything and everything they are working on are likely to run into the following hurdles: 

  • Disappointment with progress
  • A lack of social life
  • Poorer quality of work
  • Always on ‘rush mode’

Looking at the list above, it’s clear going above and beyond just isn’t worth the consequences that it carries. 

Of course, sometimes we’re required to work a little bit later than earlier; perhaps we’re halfway through a project and just adding the finishing touches. 

To work above and beyond for hours at a time just isn’t a good idea – so to answer the question, we agree that quiet quitting is acceptable to some extent. It's important not to throw away projects or work at a lower quality, but also important to take care of one's health and wellbeing.

Employees should try to balance a driven mindset and hard work ethic with ample opportunities to relax and take time away from work. 

Four employees sat at their desks in an office setting
3 strategies to prevent burnout and quiet quitting from happening

3 strategies to prevent burnout or quiet quitting

Let’s look at 4 ideas to prevent burnout or quiet quitting happening in your workplace. The list below isn’t exhaustive, and both employers and employees must work together to stop burnout. 

Employers must acknowledge that burnout can negatively impact employee productivity, performance and general job satisfaction – without these, the workforce is likely to crumble – and that’s just not ideal for business. 

As for employees, they must also do their part on preventing burnout, especially working from home. We recognise that our audience is mostly decision-makers and HR leaders, and so our list below is built for you in mind. 

two male employees engaging in conversation at a desk
Organising wellbeing meetings to prevent burnout and quiet quitting

Organise wellbeing meetings to discuss workloads

Our first piece of advice to leaders is to arrange one-to-one meetings. These discussions give leaders the opportunity to find out how employees are feeling. 

Too often, employee and manager conversations are dictated by performance and results – with very little discussion on personal health and wellbeing. 

By finding out how employees are genuinely feeling about their work and careers, leaders can take the appropriate measures to prevent overworking and burnout. 

Ensure collaboration is strong among teams

Sometimes work gets on top of us. When this happens, we let it take over our free time outside of working hours. And that just isn’t the solution. 

As a leading decision-maker, we recommend looking at collaboration within the company. Do employees feel comfortable asking for help? Do you see employees helping one another when things get tough? 

If you answer yes to the questions above, then burnout prevention is in safe hands. When people come together, they are able to tackle bigger projects, more effectively and efficiently. 

If collaboration or the sense of togetherness is low, you’ll see employees struggling in silence – and most likely using their weekends to claw back results and get ahead.

Female employee working at a desk in an office
Putting the 'wellbeing' in 'culture' for greater results

Put the ‘wellbeing’ in ‘culture’ for enormous results

Remember, behavioural change in the workplace is dictated by workplace culture. If you want to see positive change, be it more collaboration or openness, then you must work on culture.

It’s the job of leaders to lead. Take a look and audit your current workplace culture. Do you find that employees are unhappy with things like leadership, workspace layout and design, wellbeing initiatives or benefits schemes?

Survey your employees and find out the key areas of your workplace culture that need looking at. You may be surprised, and the results will provide your HR team with all they need to create positive change.

Believe it or not, you can rethink everything from workplace design to employee benefits with wellbeing in mind. By developing a culture of wellbeing, you are one step closer to reducing burnout, or the sense of hustle culture in your company. 

Don’t glorify working above and beyond. Don’t reward employees who outwork everyone else. Although it looks admirable on the surface, it’s unhealthy for employees, and those witnessing this way of working. 

Workplace culture is a delicate thing. Done right and businesses can thrive with a healthy and happy workforce. Done incorrectly, leaders will see a workforce plagued by unhappiness, exhaustion and inevitably poor performance.

Final thoughts on quiet quitting

Hopefully, you now know everything there is to know about quiet quitting. This new phenomenon in the workplace is helping employees take back control of their health and wellbeing. 

Both colleagues and leaders shouldn’t look down on this approach. Many employees simply want to work at their best without hindering their happiness, and rightly so. 

Although it’s often frowned upon in hustle culture environments, stepping back from time to time in the name of health and happiness is the holy grail of a successful career.

Our message to leaders is simple… Create a people-first workplace, and the results will follow. It’s a long-term strategy, but isn’t that the prerequisite for all things great?

If you’d like to find out how Heka can benefit your employee wellbeing strategy, get in touch by booking a demo with our wellbeing experts

Not ready? No problem! Find out more about our employee wellbeing platform, and make your own mind up about Heka.