Quiet quitting explained

Quiet quitting explained
Natalie Toniotti
Natalie Toniotti
    6 minute read

Kevin O’Leary, nicknamed ‘Mr Wonderful’, is a Canadian entrepreneur worth around $400 million. Known for his appearances as a ‘shark’ on the popular TV reality series Shark Tank, when Kevin speaks about business, people tend to listen. 

“If you’re a quiet quitter, you’re a loser. You’re unAmerican,” O’Leary declared1. “I don’t know where this started. It’s the worst idea I’ve ever heard … this is like a virus. It’s worse than COVID.” That’s a pretty big statement to make considering the catastrophic impact the pandemic had on the global economy. It highlights the genuine concern businesses are expressing around the term ‘quiet quitting’ and the negative impact it’s having on their bottom lines. 

In this blog, we describe what quiet quitting is and how you can minimise the negative side effects it could have on your business.

What is quiet quitting?

To save you time searching for the official definition of ‘quiet quitting’, let’s hear from the person who made the term viral on social media. TikTok user Zaiad Khan (@zaidleppelin) explained the term as follows in his video2:

“Where you’re not outright quitting your job but you’re quitting the idea of going above and beyond. You are still performing your duties, but you are no longer subscribing to the hustle culture mentality that work has to be your life. The reality is it’s not and your worth as a person is not defined by your labour.”

With millions of views, Zaiad’s 17-second video inspired a movement of ‘Quiet Quitters’ who have started to embrace the concept and has caught the attention of CNN and The New York Times. Discussions around the pros and cons of workers choosing not to go the extra mile anymore are being met with a mix of controversy and support. Some claim quiet quitting to be another side effect of poor employee engagement initiatives, while others believe it’s a direct result of COVID-related trends such as ‘The Great Resignation’ which inspired employees to consider what really matters to them; work or personal life. 

Businesses are now left clutching at straws with the increased number of employees doing nothing but the bare minimum and dampening career progression opportunities. It’s not to say that employees should be working outside their allotted hours, but instead the ‘quiet quitting’ movement could be fostering a work mentality that isn’t about ambition, drive and motivation to become ‘something better’ as an individual.

How quiet quitting is impacting businesses globally

Quiet quitting is also being interpreted as the term used to describe ‘people doing exactly what they are getting paid to do.’ In other words, they are still turning up, doing their core business-as-usual tasks, but are not prepared to go the extra mile. 

Quiet quitting should be a wake-up call for both business leaders and employees. It could mean salary reviews from the employer's side, but it's important that employees understand the impact on progression quiet quitting can have. Without the ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ to recommend business efficiencies it limits seeking out tasks that can illustrate a person’s capability to take on more in terms of future promotions. 

Why should businesses be concerned that statistics in Australia show a rise in overtime as a major provoker for quiet quitting habits? In Hays Salary Guide3 it was found that:

  • In Australia, 56% of overtime is unpaid
  • In 31% of businesses it was found the average weekly amount of overtime was more than 10% of standard hours
  • 24% of Australians cite a ‘poor work-life balance’ as the main reason to look for a new job in the next year or so.

While recruitment and hiring managers can do their best to include all job responsibilities within any given contract of employment, it’s often hard to predict business changes and the staff need to ‘step up to keep up’ with them. Those who aren’t prepared to do so, or go that extra mile, add more pressure on their colleagues to take on additional work. 

Yes, there is always the ‘if there is additional work, hire additional employees to take that on’ statement but that is only applicable if the workload has increased enough to justify hiring a new team member. What if the workload only needs to be increased for a day or a week? Is it necessary to go through an often expensive recruitment process to accommodate? Or would it make more sense to ensure salaries are appropriate enough to reflect this need or overtime is efficiently in place to compensate?

Not to mention the impact on productivity with staff who embrace quiet quitting leading to lower staff satisfaction levels. A businesses customer service, a department that relies on empathy, understanding and patience, can suffer greatly if team members don’t have the will to ‘do whatever they can’ to help out consumers. 

It’s called ‘quiet quitting’ not ‘loud quitting’ for a reason. These employees would prefer to keep their concerns to themselves and start looking elsewhere for job opportunities they feel deserve their time and attention. This can be detrimental to succession planning and staff turnover rates.

Where does ‘quiet firing’ play a part?

While people are fast to blame the pandemic for introducing ‘quiet quitting’ to the workforce, it’s important to remember that employees will be more engaged if they feel valued; enter a new term ‘quiet firing.’ 

When an employer does the bare minimum for their staff, that is known as quiet firing. A lack of progression and learning opportunities, unpaid overtime, poor communication and repetitive needs to work outside their job description without updating or compensating for those needs can add up to a poor employee experience. In other words, quiet firing fosters quiet quitting.

How can your business combat quiet quitting?

Here are some steps businesses can take to rectify and lessen their chances of creating an environment that enables quiet quitting to form.

  1. Redefine job descriptions: take time to regularly review and update each team member’s core tasks to ensure they accurately reflect any changes to job responsibilities and take into account additional work.
  2. Foster manager engagement: business leaders need the skills to create an environment that fosters employee engagement. This means they need the training that will help them be educated and invested in keeping their employees engaged, motivated and happy at work.
  3. Research outsourcing benefits: many businesses that have job roles that may include mundane, time-consuming and repetitive tasks turn to outsourcing providers to take care of them. It means your local employees, or in-house staff, have more time to work on jobs that boost their career progression opportunities or consider projects they may otherwise not have time to complete.

Ask any business today what their number one recruitment concern is and one in five of them4 will state the difficulty of finding suitably skilled or qualified staff. Australia is a country that has always thrived on worker migration. As a result of the lasting effects of the pandemic, with lockdowns and border restrictions, we are still struggling to get back on our feet. Not to mention the 81% of employers5 who believe candidates have become more demanding with salary expectations compared to pre-pandemic conditions, businesses nationally are looking for a ‘fix.’

So you find the skills you need offshore to help avoid quiet quitting impacting your business, check out our 5-part education series for all the tools you need.


1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mz-W4USiFpc
2. http://www.tiktok.com/@zaidleppelin/video/7124414185282391342?is_from_webapp=v1&item_id=7124414185282391342&lang=en
3. https://www.hays.com.au/salary-guide
4. https://www.abs.gov.au/media-centre/media-releases/one-five-businesses-face-skills-shortages
5. https://www.roberthalf.com.au/salary-guide?utm_source=roberthalf&utm_medium=pressrelease&utm_campaign=all-salaryguide2022-ongoing

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