Quiet Quitting: defined as not quite quitting your job, but instead quitting the idea of going above and beyond for it or subscribing to the hustle culture mentality. Popularised by TikTok user Zaiad Khan, it’s kickstarted an international conversation online and in the news.

How do you know you’re ‘QQ-ing’?

Whether it’s only working within your contracted hours, refusing to take on additional workload beyond your role, or doing the bare minimum, activities attributed to the phrase ‘quiet quitting’ seem to be broad.

Most of the discussion surrounding quiet quitting centres around a shift in attitude for those who have been working for several years. Metro recommended it as a preventative measure against burnout or as a determiner of whether or not you should quit your job. Jill Cotton, Career Trends Expert at Glassdoor, believes:

‘Quiet quitting is often a sign that it’s time to move on from your role. If you’re reducing your effort to the bare minimum needed to complete tasks, your heart is probably no longer in the job.’

But here’s the questionable crux — according to this trend — I’m quiet quitting.

Presently, I’m working my first full-time position post-graduation at a public relations (PR) company in London. Working in an entry-level position, I’m doing everything I can to demonstrate my determination and conscientiousness. I execute all my tasks, work diligently, and ask for more work if I finish. But I start at 9, and by 17:30 I’m packing my bags, ready to go.

I’m not trying to prevent burnout, nor am I fed up with my job — I just started my new role, and I love it.

So how exactly am I quiet quitting?

Motivations for Quiet Quitting

People’s reasons for quiet quitting seem to differ depending on their situation. Some are hopping on to the trend when they realise overworking wasn’t bringing them the career advancement or compensation they believed they deserved. Others claim that the Covid pandemic gave them much-needed clarity to switch their priorities — similar to those who participated in the Great Resignation. Many figure the influx of Gen Zers (those born between 1997-2012) into the workplace who want a greater work-life balance is why this trend is gaining traction.

As a 21-year-old woman, I fit squarely into the last demographic. Now I can’t speak to what pushes others my age to desire better structure, but I know what motivates me: the university system.

When I was still a student, I always felt like I wasn’t doing enough. There was always more to read, study and learn. I was overwhelmed and consistently felt inferior because I didn’t feel I was measuring up to my peers.

For years I’d scaled this insurmountable mountain: first GCSEs, volunteering, followed by A-Levels, summer internships, and then my undergraduate degree. Finally, I reached the peak when I graduated and entered full-time employment. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I could breathe easily.

A simple 9-to-5 system allows me to block out my job when I’m not working. No longer do I toss and turn at night, thinking of the endless essay deadlines, dissertation research, and all the unread books from the recommended reading lists assigned by my lecturers.

Another reason I’m adamant about my commitment to my work hours is because of the industry I’ve chosen. As an industry, PR is notorious for overworking its employees and the blurred boundaries between work and life, pandemic or not.

Jane Morgan, Managing Director at Golin Hong Kong, noted:

‘In either a crisis or a launch situation, or when pitching new business, there are many unknowns which can sometimes lead to increased hours.’

Working at a PR agency at the behest of client-imposed deadlines, with employees staying late to fulfil these deadlines, has become the norm for those in PR — from the most junior to the most senior in a team.

During an internship at a PR company the summer before my final year at university, my mentor advised that I strictly stick to my 9-5 work schedule and take my lunch break — no matter what. He said that with PR, it was easy for the lines to blur, and he wanted to ensure my well-being.

Now that I’m working full-time, I’m following that advice. To avoid forming bad habits, I’m setting boundaries to create a more uplifting balance to counteract burnout.

The real trouble with ‘QQ’

What bothers me most about this trend is how people characterise perfectly normal behaviour as ‘quitting.’

Though I’m working incredibly hard at my new job, my choice to separate my work obligations from my basic need is somehow seen as ‘quitting.’ My need to set boundaries between my job and private life is somehow seen as slovenly; the behaviour of someone who is demotivated and ready to quit.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Frankly, it’s insulting and preposterous.

For me, this trend shows how much we’ve been conditioned as a society to think that working yourself to death is the only indicator of worth. Anything less and you’re labelled a quitter.

Not only is establishing boundaries between your career and your personal life healthy, it should also be an integral part of any person’s sustainable life-work philosophy.

Here’s to the day where quiet quitting isn’t a social media trend, but the norm!

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