What is quiet quitting? TikTok trend gets people talking about work ethic, setting boundaries

ByKay Cesinger via WLS logo
Sunday, September 4, 2022
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What is quiet quitting? A TikTok video trend has sparked conversations about work ethic and setting boundaries.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A TikTok trend called "quiet quitting" has a lot of people talking.

While some have described it as doing the bare minimum at work, others say it's really about setting boundaries.

That means not doing work beyond what you were hired to do and beyond what you're being paid for. Jim McCoy, senior vice president of Talent Solutions with Manpower Group said the term "quiet quitting" was coined about ten years ago in response to the brain drain out of Venezuela. He said it has become popular in the U.S. as we come out of the pandemic conditions.

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"A lot of employees are taking a moment now to step back and say 'What is it that I can achieve in the course of a day, and how do I really regain a work-life balance for myself?" McCoy said.

Cherita Ellens, president and CEO of Women Employed, an advocacy organization in Chicago, said employees are not being as passive as some might think.

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"I don't think that there's anything silent about what is going on. I think it's extremely explicit. And I think that over time employees have been talking to employers about this. The whole fight for $15 is an example of that. When we fought to pass the fair work week ordinance in Chicago was also tied to making sure that you could own your time in your schedule," Ellens said.

But, is there a risk for people who scale back their contributions at work if, for example, there is a recession?

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"Many people as they're looking to reset kind of their work-life balance they may be perceived as quiet quitting when in fact that really is not their intention at all," said McCoy. "I think it's really important for people to simply reset expectations and have open conversations with their employers. And that is a great way to set yourself up so that you're establishing a new baseline for balance does not impact your future career growth."

Both McCoy and Ellens are optimistic that quiet quitting and the discussion it has prompted will bring about real change.

"I do not believe that the work place and the culture in the work place is going to go back to business as usual. Will it stay as flexible as it is today, we might have some bumps along the road especially if people continue to talk about a recession. But, I do believe there will be a shift." Ellens said.