This week we’ve been discussing the latest TikTok trend of ‘quiet quitting’; the act of quitting going above and beyond at work, and just doing what you’re contracted to do. Below you'll find a brilliant story from a community member on the topic.
Is this new?
It’s actually not too dissimilar from a union term called ‘Work to Rule’. Work-to-rule is a form of industrial action where employees stick strictly to their minimum required contractual obligations, but do absolutely nothing more. This could mean answering phone calls in the office exclusively within working hours, but not during breaks or lunch, or cutting all email responses when the clock turns to 5:01 👋🚪
As many of you have pointed out, perhaps the term ‘quiet quitting’ is an unhelpful one - maybe this approach to work is just healthy work boundaries? But then as others have said, (like it or not) going above and beyond is often an expectation in order to secure a pay rise or promotion. Do we all just have to play the game? What if you enjoy the game?! 😨
Where I think the attitude of ‘quiet quitting’ or ‘work-to-rule’ can be most valuable is in instances like this; where you are so undervalued and your scope to progress so limited, that there is literally no point in doing more than you’re contractually obliged. Doing the minimum affords you time to look elsewhere. The problem is, that in many roles where there is a duty to care (and tragically, often those are the ones most undervalued) ‘quiet quitting’ isn’t really an option.
As always, join in the conversation and let me know what you think. Have you 'quiet quit'? Or is going above and beyond an important part of your working life and expectations?
Tell me a bit about you and your life
I’m a 24-year-old graduate working in London and I’m paid £21k a year. I enjoy my job and love my team but when my yearly review came up and I was told I would not be receiving any formal training, progression opportunities or pay increase I lost all motivation. I’ve formally raised my discontent multiple times.
I have worked at my current company (engineering consultancy - but not an engineer) for a year now. I’ve grown up working class, a state school then struggled my way through university for an undergraduate degree. My current job was a big break for me and really helped me find myself and develop into a professional. It also enabled me to move from my small town into London. I love what I do and find it incredibly motivating. I tend to throw myself fully into work and it becomes my main interest.
I detached from my work after I was informed my contract will be renewed but I will not receive any increase in pay. At the same time, I felt I was stagnating and had been offered a new opportunity that was taken away from me soon after it was offered! It was a while after this lightbulb moment that I learnt the term for what I was unconsciously doing was "quiet quitting".
What do you think needs to change about working culture/remuneration?
Change is desperately needed in working culture and remuneration! Pay has not changed in my sector in years at an entry-level, and that amount is no longer enough to live on, let alone keep up with inflation. Remuneration needs to be adapted to meet the needs of the current workforce, either by keeping closer to inflation or offering other real support. For me, non-salary support would be transport or housing support. As a commuter any help with rail fares would be welcome, currently 50% of my salary goes on commuting 2 days a week! The sad truth is that rent and bills in London are so high I cannot live on my salary, if I didn’t have the privilege of parents able to help I would be homeless. Even now I would be unable to support myself if I was need in the office full time.
How could employers support younger people?
From speaking to my fellow entry-level/graduate employees I’ve really gotten the feeling that any additional financial support would be welcome. Young people would surprise you with how money savvy we can be, lessons on finance don’t cover the current increases in cost! People are viewing these low-paying jobs as internships, and if the training isn’t happening the job is not worth it! I despair over having to explain to a senior member of staff that people are disgruntled with tiny pay increases because the net value of their salary is reducing, not because they are greedy.
Due to my low pay I’ve had to move back in with my parents and have lost all of my savings to trying to live on £21k in London. If my work want to pay me such a small amount for my job, then I will be putting in the minimum effort whilst I look for a job that will appreciate my skills and hard work more.
Working culture is currently all about the hustle, especially in corporate London. Everyone feels the need to be working and playing hard. Extra time, in-person working and going above and beyond are all valued strongly, and in my opinion rightly so (except in-person working). However, over the past years, I’ve seen so many colleagues burn out and never see a reward for their work. The biggest change needed to British working culture is to move a business's value to be balanced between the employees and the service/product. Employees are not valued as they should be and very little importance is placed on staff retention or satisfaction in my sector.
Additionally, there seems to be an attitude of treating younger employees as disposable and expecting them to leave companies after a year.
How is quiet quitting going?
Since I’ve recognised my work has a throw-away culture in regards to entry-level staff, I’ve committed to embracing the stereotype of my age group and plan to switch companies. Before I committed to leaving I tried to open discourse with my employer at multiple levels. I succeeded in gaining answers to my questions about pay and progression. However, these answers can be summarised as ‘times are hard, you’re lucky to have a job, we know we have a high turnover’
In response to this, I found myself withdrawing from moments where I’d usually offer to help, solve problems or take on responsibility. I never consciously decided to not work as hard, but I definitely do miles less work than I used to.
Now I am consciously working at a level where I am not a hindrance to my team and fulfil my role, but avoid stressors and pressure. This allows me to commit fully to searching for a new position. I refuse to work past my 9-5 and commit far less energy to my work day.
I’m finding it shocking how little is actually expected of me, and it is actually quite stressful to avoid doing extra work! I like helping people so I’m finding it hard to say no!
I feel generally the ‘quiet quitting’ term is a misnomer, we are acting our pay. For reference, I am frequently receiving praise and even internal awards for my hard work. Since ‘quiet quitting’, I’ve not had any negative comments but there’s definitely been a few suggestions of burnout mentioned. I find it interesting as anyone with management training could see I’m disengaging from my job and very likely to leave.
What are your long-term plans?
Long term, I intend to find myself a career at another consultancy. I intend to seek professional accreditation and boost my salary for a few years in the city. Then live abroad for a few years once I reach a more senior, client-based consultant role. The end goal is to be working somewhere that appreciates my work!
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