SlackingAs youth, Generation-x were viewed as disengaged, unproductive, disaffected and cynical as depicted in films of the 1990s such as Slacker, Office Space, Clerks and Reality Bites. In the internet driven economic boom of the late-1990s it wasn't unusual for people to self-identify as slackers -- even admitting so at work. This culture was quickly extinguished with the Early 2000s Recession as Generation-x buttoned down to keep their jobs in a less frothy job market.
Work to RuleAnother major precedent for quiet quitting is work to rule whereby a group of employees protests to their employer by doing exactly what is stated in job descriptions, contracts, processes and procedures in such a way that productivity is greatly reduced. For example, a manufacturing line where workers keep shutting down production by precisely following safety or quality assurance rules. This is a type of industrial action used by unions.
DisengagementFirms have long noticed that employees can become disengaged such that they lack much presence, enthusiasm, persistence and work depth. Firms can deal with this by trying to somehow motivate employees or by creating a market culture -- a competitive environment with high turnover such that disengaged employees are quickly viewed as low performers and managed as such.
Right to DisconnectThe right to disconnect is the idea that employees have periods of time that they need not check in to work emails, phone calls and other communications. Arguments for quiet quitting have referenced people who work "24/7." This seems rather unlikely and is most likely a reference to excessive work from home culture where employees are viewed as accessible to an employer at all times. These types of employment practices may have inspired quiet quitting as employees fight for work-life balance and time that is unambiguously theirs.
Managing CommitmentsEmployees are typically expected to keep their workload to a reasonable level by managing commitments to stakeholders. This resembles common descriptions of quiet quitting that mention no overtime and not checking email on weekends -- "quitting" may not be a good term for this as managing your workload is required to do any job properly and productivity.
Existential AngstQuiet quitting has tinges of existential angst whereby people are questioning the meaning and purpose of working life and life in general. The July 2022 TikTok video that sparked the term states "your worth as a person is not defined by your labor." This is perhaps reasonable whereby an individual may decide that they work in order to live and not the other way around.
MediocrityMediocrity is a situation where an individual clings to a group for what they need but minimizes their contributions to that group. Quiet quitting would certainly produce mediocrity with workers who are unconcerned with the success or failure of a business but rather aim to do what is agreed in their job description and nothing more.
Actual QuittingIt is common for employees to become disengaged when they are actively seeking a new job. This can risk a damaging the employee's reputation with their current employer causing damage to a career. For example, it is very common for employees to realize their previous role was better after changing jobs and to seek to return. This is known as a boomerang employee. This type of option is greatly diminished by quitting before you've quit.
|Overview: Quiet Quitting|
A resolution by an individual employee to do no more than the minimum required to stay employed.
Work to rule by an individual employee such that the employee will do no more than what is stated in their job description and/or contract.
An employee who works to live and not the other way around such that they are willing to be productive to earn a living but don't view work as their primary source of fulfillment in life.
A July 2022 post on TikTok entitled "On quiet quitting #workreform ."