We have a new buzz phrase to integrate into our lexicon, one that HR needs to familiarise itself with immediately. The era of ‘quiet quitting’ is upon us.
It’s 30C in the shade and I’ve just finished my Solero.
I’m working quite hard. But ‘quite’ is a potent word here. It’s a Friday afternoon, my emails are being met by the dreaded OOO responses, a neighbour is playing drum n’ bass loudly and I’ve done enough for the day surely although it’s only 3.30pm. I’m telling myself I’m motivated but, really, what am I really doing here? Does the world need another online HR piece?
Perhaps I’m a “quiet quitter”. A what, you may ask? Yes I could be a QQer. I’ve decided not to do anything above and beyond what I was hired to do. Apart from write this piece of course.
Look, it’s just a buzz phrase. It seems to have arisen from nowhere in the past week or so. But for Katie Edwards, writing in the Independent, it’s connected with the huge work burden that has fallen on people since Covid and the advent of hybrid working. She writes: “Regularly take work home with you? Don’t. Spend weekends catching up with your emails? Stop. Do the minimum to keep things ticking over at work, think checking out instead of burning out.”
And there’s a quiet quitting gender gap, she points out: “This quiet quitting lark isn’t new at all. Haven’t loads of white, middle-aged and over blokes been wise to this wheeze for decades already? Haven’t loads of men benefitted from a more self-seeking attitude to work where they do the bits they like and leave the rest for the junior staff to wipe up?”
I’m sure that feminine roar of approval I heard echoing around the city streets last Tuesday was the result of millions of women simultaneously reading Edwards’ piece on their smartphones but I suspect there’s more to it than this.
A lighthearted take on HR
Maria Kordowicwicz, an associate professor in organisational behaviour at Nottingham university, told the Observer last week that the rise in quiet quitting was linked to a “noticeable fall in job satisfaction”. Her evidence was that a Gallup poll had revealed that only 9% of workers in the UK were engaged or enthusiastic about their work, ranking this country 33rd out of 38 in Europe.
She adds that our collective navel-gazing about our lives during and since the pandemic has led to us mentally checking out from our jobs and a “lack of enthusiasm, less engagement”. She says we can juxtapose quiet quitting with the “great resignation”. Another nebulous phrase.
Interestingly, Dr Ashley Weinberg, an occupational psychologist at the University of Salford, quoted in the same Observer piece, says that although enlightened companies were designing jobs that give employees control, pride in their work and a fair wage, these initiatives were being undermined by the cost of living crisis. Workers still knew they couldn’t afford holidays, restaurant visits and fuel bills so what was the point of “going beyond” at work? A telling point, one feels.
So maybe there’s something in this buzz phrase after all, although “quitting” isn’t quite right and you don’t have be “quiet” while doing it.
I certainly wasn’t quiet when the Solero I was licking crashed to the floor and was pounced upon by the cat.
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