Have you heard the term “quiet quitting?” If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s a post-pandemic buzzword that’s been getting some attention in the media. Essentially, “quiet quitting” means you can quit your job without others knowing. You simply have to do enough not to get fired, but nothing more than just enough.
There are many potential reasons someone may want to do this. But I’m not going to talk about those — I’m going to address leaders and people who are quiet quitting.
Leaders: Value People
Leaders, I have a bone to pick with you; I’ve heard many leaders talk about the topic of quiet quitting in very unhelpful ways. For example, some leaders complain that quiet quitting is just the latest example of how lazy the millennials and Gen Zs are. This irritates me. Not only is it not my experience with millennials and Gen Zs, but it’s also a complete generalization of a large segment of our workforce that altogether misses the point.
If quiet quitting happens, we as leaders need to understand why it is. Leaders are followable because they seek truth in all situations. So they need to ask why people feel the need to quiet quit in the first place. Are they placing too many demands on their followers? Are there appropriate limits to the work day and week? The point is that leaders need to seek understanding before evaluating the situation.
The other element here is that leaders need to be people worth following. They need to look their followers in the eyes and remind them how much their work means. This is not some token gesture. It is a tangible reminder of the dignity of work. This leads to my second point.
Quiet Quitters: Do Meaningful Work
To those actively engaging in quiet quitting, I would tell you the following: do meaningful work. If that means you need to change jobs, so be it. But most people do not have to change jobs, they just have to change perspectives.
The type of work you do is irrelevant to the meaningfulness of your job. Whether you are a custodian at a local school, a pastor at a large church, or someone in business like me, work can, over time, beat down your perspective of its meaningfulness. It can become mundane, irritating, and possibly soul-crushing. You may be tempted to dread not just Monday but every day. Add on two long years of increased stress and, in many cases, isolation, and these factors can lead to just wanting to give up.
Given these factors, I am not surprised people have quiet quit.
But that does not mean they should.
Instead, let’s revisit the three examples I gave above with some added perspective:
- The custodian can clean in a way that enhances the lives of the administration, teachers, and kids.
- The pastor can take another meeting with the couple whose relationship is falling apart. It may feel meaningless today, but it may make all the difference in the years to come.
- The business person can keep going, realizing that what they do matters to the degree it impacts people.
Work is Human
What I am getting at is that work is human.
Work is not about getting through the list of tasks, answering emails, or doing other activities. Yes, that’s part of the work. But what makes work meaningful is doing something to improve the lives of others. And that’s why I am so passionate about this topic.
Quiet quitting lets others down, whether you realize it or not. It places the comfort of self ahead of the dignity of work. It is giving up but still accepting paychecks.
I am the first to admit that work is not great every day. I am not even remotely suggesting that it can be great every day. I am simply suggesting that it has meaning. It can be directed for good daily.
And it should.
I’ll close with one last note to anyone reading this post. Let’s all work with integrity. Let’s be the kind of people that act privately in a way others would be proud to witness.
This is our one shot at this thing called life.
So, let’s do things with and through others, valuing people and working in ways that contribute to their value in whatever we do.