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The Rise of Quiet Quitting

Quiet Quitting
Quiet Quitting. Credit: Nick Youngson, CC BY-SA 3.0 /

There’s a new trend in town that is shaking up both the workforce and the workplace. Some, such as Forbes, have declared it “the next phase of the great resignation.” Others like Business Insider, say “the era…is already over.” Despite the difference in opinions, what they are both referring to is the TikTok phenomena.

The term does not mean quitting without notification. As Collins Dictionary defines it, ‘quiet quitting’ signifies:

…doing no more work than one is contractually obliged to do, [especially] in order to spend more time on personal activities of the practice of doing little or no work while being present at one’s place of employment. 

In other words, it pertains to refusing to work more than absolutely necessary.

The rise of quiet quitting

Quiet quitting is a movement begun by Bryan Creely, a career coach and corporate recruiting expert, according to his TikTok and Twitter account bios.

His post went viral not only because it recognized a growing problem in the labor market but also because it provided a solution to the problem of quitting without having another job to provide income.

“Do you have a job that you don’t want to quit?” Creely asks. “Try being lazy instead. A lot of people are just kicking back and taking it easy instead of quitting their jobs and it’s actually working.”


More people are “quiet quitting” instead of leaving. quitmyjob corporate corporatelife job jobburnout greatresignation career workthisway

♬ original sound – Bryan Creely – Career Coach

According to NPR, America’s National Public Radio, that was the seed that sowed the proverbial  fruit of mutiny. Yet, its current popularity is partly due to the younger generations tapping into what they termed “the post-pandemic zeitgeist…”

The death of hustle culture

What Creely says in his original video was not about laziness. Rather, it was about the death of hustle culture—also known as burnout and grind culture. This involves an attitude towards one’s job that developed in 2008 after the Great Recession. Millennials and Generation Z believed they need to work long hours and force themselves to exceed their limits in order to get ahead. Then, something changed during the pandemic.


What’s the difference between quiet quitting and being lazy? Quiet quitting is performing to the job description and not more. Being lazy is doing the minimum (or less) and mentally checking out completely. With layoffs brewing you may want to check your job search strategy. #careeradvice #quietquitting #lazy #worklife #work #joblife #layoff #techlayoffs #careertok #careercoach

♬ original sound – Bryan Creely – Career Coach

The Guardian published an article on November 28, 2021, a little less than one year ago to date, entitled “Goodbye to the job: how the pandemic changed Americans’ attitude to work.” What they reported, in their words, was the fact that:

…millions of Americans…have experienced a tectonic shift in their outlook to work during the pandemic. In September, 4.4 million people—more than the population of Oregon— quit their jobs. Job openings have surpassed [ten million] since the beginning of summer. Workers have been going on strikes and speaking out about their working conditions online, particularly on the popular subreddit r/Antiwork, which has more than a million members. 

The people they quoted on Reddit and directly to the newspaper confirmed that fact as well. “Quit my job last night, it was nice to be home to make the kids breakfast and take them to school today,” they quoted one Reddit user as saying.

“I may not have health insurance, but I feel so free!” exclaimed another user.

The young woman interviewed by The Guardian described the main reason so many are doing this so much more clearly, telling The Guardian that:

I’ve always had the attitude of being a really hard worker. That really changed for me because I realized you could feel totally capable and really important when, really, you’re expendable.

As one can see, therefore, it has absolutely nothing at all to do with laziness.

Young people just giving up

Quiet quitting is neither about being slack nor failing at one’s job. Instead, as NPR put it, it is “…about quitting the idea of going above and beyond.” Young people, it seems, are merely getting fed up and are thus giving up. The motive is what people believe is the terminal toxicity of hustle culture.

It has not just caught on in the U.S., however.  This also seems to be a growing trend in other parts of the world as well, including in China, which has one of the strictest work ethics. Thus, there, it has become even more extreme and gone from ‘quiet quitting’ to ‘Bai lin,’ which means ‘let it rot.’

This latest shift is particularly problematic for companies, especially since it accounted for more than fifty percent of the workforce, according to the Gallop polls that NPR referenced.

The most frequent grounds appear to be lack of advancement opportunities, low pay, and a feeling of disrespect. That, according to experts, is globally leading youth to simply giving up and giving in—though, to them, they are merely acting based on their wage and not their age.

Acting your wage, not your age

Slacker, lazy, and irresponsible are only a few of the criticisms that quiet quitters have begun to face. They don’t seem to mind the negative press, however. That is especially true given the spin off of ‘quiet quitting’ known as ‘act your wage, not your age.’


#greenscreen Acting your wage 101. #fyp #work #working #corporate #corporatelife #corporatetiktok #corporateamerica #corporatehumor #office #officelife #manager #managersbelike #career

♬ original sound – Sarai Marie

The saying came from Sarah Soto, aka @saraisthreads, who created the craze when she posted a series of videos on TikTok. In the videos, Soto satirizes the daily problems employees face at work by playing a number of different characters who refuse to do more than they are paid to do.

How does one act their wage? According to Insider, millennials and generation Z who do it, put it very simply: “If a company is paying you, let’s say minimum wage, you’re gonna put in minimum effort.”

This seems quite clear-cut, but such things are never that simple, according to economists. The young comedian now has 2.2 million followers and a loyal fan club has taken on the challenge. Still, it seems its adherents have begun to face some serious backlash.

Turning on the heat

Hustle culture may well be back again, according to Insider, as companies such as Twitter have evidently grown tired of pandemic habits, such as working from home. They also seem to have lost their patience for post-pandemic habits such as quiet quitting as well. As reported, Meta is also apparently telling their workers to “shape up or ship out.”

Thus, there is a new player in town called “quiet layoffs” and its attitude is ‘take no prisoners.’ It is not only about increasing intolerance for such tendencies, however. Many companies are, in fact, forced to do so due to falling profits and the strong probability of a recession in the U.S., such as is the case with Amazon.


#greenscreen could coasting in your job put a target on your back in case if a layoff? 75% of surveyed managers says yes. Scaling back strategically may be the wiser move. #quietquitting #quit #quitmyjob #greatresignation #layoffs #laidoff #career #careeradvice #jobseeker

♬ original sound – Bryan Creely – Career Coach

As for employees, they too might soon do an about-face, as unemployment is set to rise by the end of the year. Such a situation would almost automatically mean greater competition for jobs. The Great Resignation might therefore quickly become ‘mere resignation’ once again.

Hence, though hustle culture may not be one hundred percent dead, people are seemingly going back to old work habits. No one can say if it is merely temporary yet. What is most likely is that they are doing this in order to pay the bills even if it means longer hours for a yearly salary they wish had several more digits at the end.

According to Insider, one of the original promoters of quiet quitting was a recruiter they call ‘Justin,’ who reduced his working hours to the ‘normal’ forty hours per week. He continued to decrease those hours until he finally got to thirty, which allowed him to spend more time with his family.


#question from @alifeafterlayoff #greenscreen Forget Quiet Quitting, more people are opting to Quick Quit instead. The number of people who quit their jobs prior to reaching 1 year of service has been on the rise. And it begs the question. How long do you stick it out in a job you don’t like? #quietquitting #quickquitting #quickquit #jobtips #jobinterview #jobinterview #greatresignation #quietfiring #career #workfromhome

♬ original sound – Bryan Creely – Career Coach

The magazine states that today, ‘Justin’ is supposedly back to “going above and beyond.” That includes returning to his previous fifty hours a week out of fear of the projected downward economic trend and the increasing financial insecurity.

Only time will tell if the phase of quiet quitting is truly over, as ‘quick quitting’ might be taking its place.

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