Australians are “quiet quitting” work. Here’s what that means

quiet quitting

The term "quiet quitting" means unsubscribing from the hustle culture, according to one TikTok user.

Forget the Great Resignation and the Great Reshuffle — there’s a new movement permeating a workforce already compromised by a labour shortage and plagued by burnout: “quiet quitting”.

Proponents of the movement say it’s the perfect antidote to toxic work environments where staff feel compelled to answer emails out of hours, work on projects outside their job descriptions, and stay back beyond the finish line of a working day.

The term “quiet quitting” was coined by TikTokker @zkchillin, who says the idea is to meet expectations of a job and resist the urge to over perform to win brownie points or advance in a career faster.

“You’re not outright quitting your job, but you’re quitting the idea of going above and beyond,” he explained in the video.

“You’re still performing your duties, but you’re no longer subscribing to the hustle culture mentality that work has to be your life — the reality is, it’s not.

“Your worth as a person is not defined by your labour.”

The video has been viewed more than 2.5 million times with viewers leaving their own definition of the term in the comments.

“I went on vacation for a week and didn’t check my work email once,” one user responded.

“Even set ‘average’ goals so I’m doing enough but not above and beyond,” another chimed in.

One user even suggested it helped them in their career advancement.

“I did this and was offered a raise and better position.”

But scoring better remuneration right now might more likely be the result of a strained labour market. Australian job vacancies are at a record high, with 480,000 positions remaining empty at the moment.

“The large volume of unfilled demand means the labour market will likely continue to tighten,” said ANZ senior economist Catherine Birch.

The shortage has placed workers in a unique position to negotiate the terms of their employment, from requesting hybrid work structures to transitioning to four-day work weeks and securing those elusive pay rises.

Kris Grant, CEO of management consultancy ASPL Group, says workplaces should expect a higher remuneration trend to continue well into 2023, as the jobs market hobbles towards its post-pandemic recovery.

“Australia’s unemployment rate is expected to fall below 3% next year, with the economy continuing to grow at a robust place after months of sluggish activity last year, and employers are still hiring,” she said.

“Because of the labour and skills shortage, wage costs in most sectors, including finance, healthcare and telecommunications are arising between 10% to 15%, with employers having to boost salaries to attract and retain staff.”

But “quiet quitting” also brings to light another issue costing Australian businesses nearly $11 billion a year: burnout.

The Australia and New Zealand Autonomy of Work Index 2021 found that 77% of employees in the region experienced burnout at least once in 2020, while 50% of respondents said being overworked was a key factor contributing to burnout.

One in three cited an inability to disconnect from work as the reason for their burnout.

Aside from the devastating toll this takes on the mental wellbeing of Australians, the conditions cost the economy an eye-watering $10.9 billion per year, the report found.

Earlier this year, M. K. Ward, Zipline’s director of people, culture and OD, wrote for SmartCompany that being successful in a fast-paced, focused company does not predicate on working “15 hours a day”.

“The unwritten agreement often becomes ‘if you want to build something game-changing, you’d better hustle and grind and use up every bit of energy you’ve got’,” she said.

“But is the need to perform highly actually predicated on the pressure to always be on? No. In fact, high performance is obstructed by real or perceived pressure to be on 24/7.

“Hit your targets, communicate well, and you can work as few hours as you want.”


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12 days ago

That doesn’t sound like a movement to me because it’s just what I’ve always done. If they need me outside of my work hours or when I’m on leave, too bad. If they expect me to put in more than 38 hours, they can pay me overtime (they don’t). You don’t live to work, you work to live.

9 days ago

So my approach to this is basically when I start a new job I will tell them outright that I will put in as much effort as you’re willing to compensate me for. If you pay me $30/hr I’m not even getting out of bed or answering my phone for that, I’ve got better things to do with my time than make someone else richer. I’ll hit targets and even set records if you’re willing to put the right offer on the table. Be confident in your ability to do the Job and do it well and always own your mistakes but most importantly learn from them. Never accept the first offer or the advertised rates because that’s the figure that is the lowest they think they can get away with paying to buy you, know your worth and what value you bring to the table.

Last edited 9 days ago by Shane
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