It’s getting hard to keep up with quiet quitting. There it is in Psychology Today, where a story warns lovers that quiet quitting can happen in romantic relationships, too (signs include physical and psychological distancing). And what’s this in Dairy Herd Management? Why, it’s a list of tips to prevent quiet quitting on the farm. On Etsy, the quiet quitting t-shirt options are so numerous you could build an entire wardrobe of quitting-wear.
The waning days of summer were once owned by the pumpkin spice latte. But amid widespread burnout and the pandemic-induced workplace reckoning, quiet quitting has unseated #PSL. In the same way that a fake flavoring for coffee begat pumpkin spice beard oil and other monstrosities, quiet quitting is also throwing off spawn.
There are lists of warning signs that you are being “quiet fired” (going years without a raise or promotion and losing leadership opportunities among them). There’s an anti-quiet quitting movement. (It’s called FatFIRE and involves working as hard as you can to quickly amass wealth so you can retire early.) An old piece of advice for those who overspend in order to appear wealthy — ”act your wage” — has been repurposed to mean doing your job as compensated, and nothing more.
On Twitter, Florence Pugh has been crowned a “quiet quitting icon” after she skipped press day in Venice for “Don’t Worry Darling.” On Reddit, Homer Simpson is being hailed as a quiet quitting pioneer, for advising way back in 1995, “If you don’t like your job, you don’t strike. You go in every day and do it really half-assed. That’s the American way.”
It’s only a matter of time before Dunkin’ introduces a breakfast sandwich — Quiet Bacon Egg and Cheese.
Quiet quitting has become so pervasive that apparently you can be quiet quitting and not even know it, per the Huffington Post. Like breathing in odorless carbon monoxide.
Quiet quitting began its move into the mainstream in late July. But according to a scholarly history on KnowYourMeme.com, the earliest known use of the term came on March 24, 2022, in a seemingly routine academic exchange on Twitter.
In response to a tweet that asked, “Pre-writing a doctoral studies paper on the greatest leadership challenge we face today. What would you select?” a Twitter user named @DrJustinC90 wrote: “Building/sustaining individual and collective teacher efficacy in the midst of the great resignation (or era of ‘quiet quitting’) due to burnout, poor leadership, limited autonomy, etc.”
The deceptively low-key term simmered for several months, until July 25, when TikTok user @zaidleppelin posted a video that described quiet quitting and denounced hustle culture. In one month, it got more than 3 million views, according to KnowYourMeme.com.
From there, quiet quitting moved so quickly it caught some people unaware, including US Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh (nee Boston mayor) — as he confessed to Trevor Noah.
“The first time I was asked the question about quiet quitting I thought it was people, like, quitting and leaving,” Walsh said on The Daily Show on Sept. 8. “So I gave an answer and I looked like a complete moron ... and then I looked it up what it was after the fact.”
A recent poll by Gallup found that “quiet quitters” make up at least 50 percent of the US workforce, but the behavior is not new. George Costanza has been practicing it for years (in reruns), and in some ways it’s just a catchy term for phoning it in, or the job action known as “working to rule,” i.e. refusing to do any work that is not strictly required.
But from a marketing perspective, quiet quitting’s timing was perfect. It hit the news cycle as many of the reigning major story lines — COVID, inflation, the Johnny Depp trial and aftermath — were growing repetitive, and before the Queen had died.
Even as quiet quitters proclaim their quietude, how long will its power last? More than 9 out of 10 managers told ResumeBuilder.com that they have taken action against “quiet quitters,” including taking steps to terminate them and denying promotions/raises, and 1 in 3 admit to “quiet firing” reports.
Maybe quiet quitting needs to get quieter?