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Who are the quiet quitters?

Quiet quitting has become a major talking point in the world of work over the past year. But what exactly is quiet quitting, and who are the quiet quitters? Here we delve into the meaning behind the term, the reasons why workers are embracing this approach, and what quiet quitting means for the future of work.

What is Quiet Quitting?

Quiet quitting refers to an employee doing the bare minimum in their job and no longer going above and beyond. A quiet quitter will work their contracted hours, take all their breaks, and refrain from taking on additional responsibilities outside of their job description. They are considered to still be performing adequately in their role, just no longer going the extra mile.

The “quiet” aspect refers to the fact that employees are not loudly quitting or handing in their resignations. They are remaining in their roles but disengaging and dialing back their efforts. This distinguishes quiet quitting from related terms like “quiet firing” where employers marginalize employees or reduce their responsibilities in hopes they will resign.

Some key characteristics of quiet quitting include:

  • Working set hours and no longer doing overtime
  • Taking full allotted breaks
  • Not volunteering for extra work
  • Saying no to non-essential meetings and tasks
  • Doing only what is in the job description
  • Setting stronger work-life boundaries

Proponents of quiet quitting view it as setting reasonable boundaries and expectations around workload and work-life balance. But critics see it as employees becoming disengaged and not giving their full effort to their roles.

Why are Workers Quiet Quitting?

There are several factors driving the rise of quiet quitting:

1. Burnout

Burnout has become pervasive across many industries, especially those where employees have had to operate in crisis mode during the pandemic. Frontline workers in healthcare, retail, hospitality and more are often emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted. Quiet quitting can be seen as these workers no longer being able to maintain the stressful pandemic workload cadence.

2. Lack of Advancement

With flatter organizational structures, there are fewer advancement opportunities available to employees. Workers may feel like they have no pathway forward despite taking on additional responsibilities and working long hours. Quiet quitting becomes their response when going above and beyond is not rewarded.

3. Reevaluating Work Priorities

The pandemic led many people to reevaluate what they want out of work and make adjustments to their work-life balance. With rising inflation, workers find they need to take on second jobs or side hustles, leaving less time for going the extra mile in their main job. Others now want to spend more time with family or focus on their mental health and hobbies.

4. Poor Company Culture

Feeling disconnected from an organization’s culture and values can lead employees to quietly withdraw effort. Lack of recognition, micromanagement, insufficient support resources, and ineffective leaders have all been cited as cultural issues that prompt quiet quitting.

5. Remote Work

Remote and hybrid work makes it easier for employees to quietly disengage by making themselves less available. Without in-person interactions and oversight, workers can more easily avoid non-critical meetings, emails, and projects. This lowers the risk that their quiet quitting behaviors will be immediately noticed.

Who are the Quiet Quitters?

Quiet quitting is happening across generations, but is especially prevalent among younger Millennial and Gen Z workers. Some key generational differences include:


  • Came of age during the Great Recession which impacted their career expectations
  • Want meaningful, purpose-driven work
  • Disillusioned by seeing parents and older workers sacrifice health and wellbeing but still get laid off
  • Value work-life balance and flexible work

Gen Z

  • Digital natives who expect technology to enable flexibility
  • Focused on emotional and mental health/self-care
  • Entrepreneurial desires and side hustles outside work
  • Want rapid growth and advancement opportunities

However, quiet quitting is also happening among more tenured employees including Gen X and Baby Boomers who feel disgruntled and stuck in their roles.

Other Common Quiet Quitter Profiles:

  • The Burnout: Was previously going above and beyond but has hit an emotional/mental wall.
  • The Undervalued: Feels underpaid and like their efforts are unrecognized.
  • The Ambitious: Wants to shift energy to side projects or passions outside of work.
  • The Disengaged: Feel like they don’t belong or their values don’t align with the company’s values.

The Pros and Cons of Quiet Quitting

There are both potential upsides and downsides to the quiet quitting trend:


  • Employees focus less on work and more on mental health and wellbeing
  • Workers feel empowered to set stronger boundaries
  • Talent is less likely to burnout and leave the company
  • Managers learn they can’t rely on employee overwork and hero culture


  • Employees may become disengaged, hurting team morale and performance
  • Reduced initiative and effort levels impact innovation and growth
  • Lack of willingness to go the extra mile affects customer satisfaction
  • Company culture becomes focused on minimum viable effort vs excellence

Organizations need to find ways to thoughtfully address quiet quitting and underlying issues driving it, rather than just criticizing employees.

Managing Quiet Quitting Employees

Here are some tips for leaders and managers dealing with quiet quitting on their teams:

  • Listen and understand motivations: Have empathetic 1:1s focused on hearing employee concerns.
  • Re-engage: Create development plans tailored to employee goals and interests.
  • Evaluate workloads: Audit tasks and responsibilities to ensure fair distribution.
  • Communicate appreciation: Recognize employee contributions publicly and privately.
  • Refocus culture: Emphasize sustainability, health and teamwork over hero culture.
  • Lead by example: Model appropriate boundaries and work-life balance.

The Future of Quiet Quitting

Looking ahead, here are some predictions for where the quiet quitting trend could be headed:

  • Quiet quitting will force more workplaces to reassess engagement, burnout, and modernize incentives.
  • Leaders will be under pressure to evolve management styles to be more empathetic.
  • Companies will look to automate some tasks employees are quiet quitting on.
  • Employers could become more supportive of side hustles and passion projects outside work.
  • Labor shortages will give employees greater leverage in quiet quitting.
  • Gen Z entering the workforce could normalize quiet quitting culture.

Rather than a passing fad, quiet quitting reflects a deeper paradigm shift in how employees approach work in the modern economy. Organizations that listen and adapt to the changing expectations and values around work stand to benefit the most in retaining and engaging talent in the quiet quitting era.

Generation Attitude Towards Work Quiet Quitting Behaviors
Baby Boomers Workaholic, loyal to employers Calling in sick, leaving at 5pm, avoiding non-essential meetings
Gen X Skeptical, value work-life balance Refusing to check email after hours, declining extra projects
Millennials Purpose-driven, need flexibility Setting OOO alerts, ignoring non-essential Slack/Teams messages
Gen Z Entrepreneurial, blurred work boundaries Spending work time on side projects, avoiding office perks/events


Quiet quitting is a major trend reshaping work, however it manifests differently based on an employee’s generation, industry, and individual personality. Companies that demonstrate empathy, re-engage employees, and adapt to emerging workforce expectations will be best positioned to manage quiet quitting in a way that minimizes dysfunction and retain top talent. With skilled leadership and cultural evolution, organizations can ensure quiet quitting does not mean the end of employee productivity or innovation.