Why ‘Quiet Quitting’ is a Career Killer (and 5 things to try instead)

4 May 2023

Have you ever felt overwhelmed or frustrated at work?

Maybe you're feeling burnt out or undervalued for your efforts. Maybe you're bored in your role, or feel that you're not taken seriously.

Unfortunately, you’re not alone, with 62% of Australian workers reporting feeling ‘burnt out’ in 2022, according to the Microsoft Work Trend Index.  

These feelings may be tempting you to "quiet quit"… something that is becoming a common alternative to resigning. The idea refers to an employee gradually becomes less invested at work. It could be putting in a little less effort, or completely opting out of those ‘above and beyond’ kind of tasks. Someone who is quiet quitting will continue to do the work, but only the bare minimum to ‘appear’ that they are engaging to avoid getting fired.

Some people see it as a way to push back against the pressure of "hustle culture", while others view it as simply slacking off

When you first hear about quiet quitting it might not seem like a big deal. These workers are still turning up everyday and doing the bare minimum. But, for many companies, having employees who are willing to put in extra effort is really important to stay ahead of the competition.  

For an employer, losing employees who want to leave is tough, but having them stay and do only the bare minimum and not truly engage in their work is actually worse, as it puts more pressure on others to pick up the slack.  

The problem with quiet quitting is that employees are feeling like they're not getting enough in return for their extra effort. They feel like their manager or boss is asking too much of them without offering any recognition. In our current economic climate, many people can't afford to quit their jobs outright, so quiet quitting is becoming more common. 

But there are better alternatives than quietly checking out of your job. 

What to do instead 
  1. Communicate with your manager/supervisor: If you're feeling overwhelmed or frustrated at work, it's important to communicate your concerns. They may be able to offer support or make changes to your workload or responsibilities. 

  1. Set boundaries: If you're finding it difficult to balance work and personal life, try setting boundaries. For example, avoid checking work emails outside of office hours or taking on extra projects if you're already feeling overloaded. Turning off notifications from Teams/Slack/Zoom is also a good idea.  

  1. Seek counselling: Most organisations offer anonymous counselling services where you can meet with a professional to help with your concerns and put strategies in place moving forward. This can be helpful if you’ve already tried talking to your manager and nothing has changed. 

  1. Look for opportunities to learn and grow: Sometimes, feeling bored at work can be a result of not being challenged. Look for opportunities to learn new skills or take on new projects that will help you grow professionally. 

  1. Consider whether the job is a good fit: If you've tried everything and still feel unhappy at work, it may be time to consider a change. However, it's important to leave your job in a professional manner by giving notice and completing any outstanding work. 

It's important to prioritise your mental health and well-being, but it's also important to be professional and respectful in your work relationships. Quiet quitting will give your manager the impression that you don’t care about the job, meaning they might not consider you for advancement opportunities. Additionally, if you eventually decide to formally resign, you can't rely on them for a good reference. 

Avoid burning bridges with your employer by maintaining professionalism and remaining engaged in your work. Also, remember if you are really struggling it is important to seek support, and proactively do something about it. 

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