If You Think “Quiet Quitting” is an Effective Career Management Strategy, Think Again!

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

First, we heard about the “great resignation”. Today, many people are talking about “quiet quitting”. The way people are coping with work is certainly getting a lot of attention. With the pandemic significantly impacting the workplace, there has been a significant shift in the needs of both employers and employees. Having watched many videos and listened to the varying viewpoints on this topic, I wanted to understand this career phenomenon a little bit better. For those of you who have not heard about “quiet quitting”, I will elaborate. Quiet quitting is a term used to describe a person who is not outrightly quitting but has decided that he/she will not go above and beyond a job’s requirements. The person has decided to avoid performing any additional job duties, responsibilities and tasks, sticking strictly his/her job description.

For many people, they are doing this for two main reasons. First, they are in the process of being work fatigued or have completely burned out. They have reached their limit of mental, emotional or physical capacity. The other reason is that they may have already gone above and beyond what has been required but have not seen any additional rewards and recognition from the company. In the end, they have decided that putting in any extra effort to their job is not worth it. Regardless of the reasoning, at the heart of this debate centres on the differing work expectations and perspectives of the employer and employee.

Since there are many differing and numerous opinions on this topic, one can take a long time discussing it. People have many different perspectives and viewpoints. However, as a career counsellor/coach, I wanted to evaluate quiet quitting from a career management point of view. As a counsellor, I am always seeking successful career management strategies to support my clients in achieving more fulfilling, empowering and progressive careers. Having attempted to view this particular approach through the lens of career management, I have concluded it may not be a real beneficial one. With the exception of a person being on the verge of burning out or experiencing severe mental health issues, I see more downsides than advantages, if you use this approach. Here are some following main points:

Your Boss Won’t Like It!

I rarely see eye-to-eye with Kevin O’Leary. However, in a video post, he proposes that quiet quitting is a really bad idea. He mentions that creativity is necessary in any workplace. People are needed to go beyond what is typically required to solve significant problems for their teams, customers, managers and the company overall. If you are going to define your responsibilities by some strict definition of your job description then you are going to fail. You are being hired to solve problems. If you and your work are going to be recognized and rewarded, you will be required to do what you are supposed to do and even more.

In this case, I agree with Kevin. Today, the market is comprised of constant industry disruption and competition, and companies will only value those who can bring an exceptional level of work performance. All companies are functioning in a highly driven and competitive environment, and the highest priorities are to not only survive, but to thrive. Most managers will not have any appreciation or respect for a “I did my job, and that should be good enough” attitude. Many managers value people who are willing to go above and beyond. These people will be the ones that garner favor, admiration and recognition. As Kevin states, “Those are the people I seek. I seek them out. I hire them. People who shut down their laptop at five… want to go to the soccer game, nine-to-five only, they don’t work for me. I can tell you that. I hope they work for my competitors.”

Are You Only Working for a Paycheque?

It’s challenging to go above and beyond, if there is minimal or no motivation to do so. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that a person’s work-life balance can be very poor or putting in extra work time, resources and effort may not be really appreciated or recognized by a manager. In the end, a person’s salary and benefits will remain the same. However, I have and will always advocate for careers that are based on more than just a paycheque. A highly fulfilling and satisfying career is created on unique passions, meaning and purpose. It’s totally understandable why many people want to clock out at five, if they have not attained these qualities in their career. However, you need to explore, identify and do things that make you happy in your work. This can awaken and better connect you to what’s professionally meaningful. Having intrinsic as opposed to extrinsic rewards will always be more beneficial to you and your career. You need to go above and beyond for you, not for anyone else. If you are going above your job requirements for external recognition and rewards, or simply trying to avoid a manger’s punishment or reprimand, it will become increasingly difficult to get through your workdays as time goes by.

It’s Not a Successful Long-Term Strategy

Changes in the labour market are constantly occurring, along with possible job opportunities. In the present labour market climate, employers are finding it very challenging to find and retain employees. This is one main reason employees feel secure in quietly quitting. However, this occurrence is by no means permanent, and to maintain a successful career you need to keep this in mind. Employers in this period may overlook a person who is not going above and beyond, thinking that it may be challenging to find someone else as a replacement. Unfortunately, this will not always be the case, and during major recessionary periods, companies undergo major restructuring. When this happens, even the most qualified, experienced and knowledgeable will be challenged in finding and maintaining work. Thus, quiet quitting may effectively work in this time period because the work climate supports it. However, when the labour market changes, your employer may take on a completely different perspective of employees that attempt to fly under the radar.   

You Won’t Develop or Grow 

Not going above and beyond may get you through your workday, but it is not a successful strategy for a long-term progressive and prosperous career. A key aspect of any successful career management strategy is growth and development. Individuals in careers need to continue to grow, or they remain stagnant or dissatisfied. I have worked with many clients who want to change because they have been in their jobs too long. They constantly perform the same repetitive tasks and responsibilities. However, there’s a saying that goes “change is inevitable, growth is optional”. This means that change will always occur, but growth is a choice. As I mentioned, disruptions and restructures dominate today’s job market. These are changes that everyone will experience, but many people will not necessarily achieve positive career growth. If you want to successfully reach your goals and achieve growth, then you must have a solid and well-defined career strategy, along with taking action. Proactively managing your career, while growing and developing your skills, knowledge and experience will give you the abilities and resources to successfully handle and respond to challenging career disruptions, while also support you in reaching your highest career potential.

Don’t Stop Here

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