What exactly is ‘quiet quitting’? Sign of laziness or push back against burnout caused by hustle culture?

Although it's basically sticking to what an employee is supposed to do, there are concerns that quiet quitting may hamper productivity, in an environment where hustling is glorified.

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Monday, September 26, 2022, 06:04 PM IST
article-image
Hustle culture has been described as working long hours, where taking time off is seen as a sign of laziness. | Pexels

In the post-pandemic era, work from home is fading away to once again become an alternative after being the norm for the past couple of years, as hybrid models take over. Earlier this month an Indian CEO urged young professionals to work 18 hours a day instead of cribbing, and had to quit LinkedIn after a backlash. This was followed by a heated debate about moonlighting, the practice of taking up side jobs without informing employers, and Wipro fired 300 employees who were working with their rivals, after its Chairman termed it as cheating.

Quiet quitting isn’t what it sounds like

Now reports are claiming that CEOs and Human Resources managers are in a state of panic about something called ‘quiet quitting’, and even AI is being brought in to detect the practice among employees. It may sound like something linked to the great resignation, where millions of Americans voluntarily quit their jobs and 86 per cent Indians are expected to do the same as per a Michael Page survey. But on the contrary, it has more to do with employees keeping a job, and sticking strictly to the duties assigned to them within work hours.

During discussions on social media, quiet quitting has been described as the opposite of hustle culture, and important for a work-life balance. So to understand it, you first need to know all about hustle culture.

Losing out on life to hustle for work?

The Bombay Shaving Company CEO who thinks people should work 18 hours, asked them to ‘hustle’, and that’s pretty much what the word means. The hustle culture glorifies working way past work hours and going beyond tasks in a person’s job profile to justify every penny of the salary paid and each promotion. Logging out on time, taking time off and not prioritising work over personal life, have been considered signs of laziness since this trend took over. But with that, exhaustion went up and mental health professionals also link working more than 45 hours a week to a higher risk of burnout.

Enter quiet quitting, another pandemic era work culture

As work-life balance gained more importance during the pandemic, professionals started rejecting the hustle culture, which led to the rise of what we now know as “quiet quitting”. Here professionals refuse to take up work beyond the responsibilities that come with their role in an organisation. They don’t work beyond the hours they are required to put in, and interaction is restricted to that. Among those who have welcomed this practice, is Huffington Post founder Ariana Huffington, who posted on LinkedIn emphasising the need for quiet quitting, and rejected hustle culture.

Employers that expect more

To counter this, critics of quiet quitting describe it as people doing the bare minimum without motivation and only focusing on staying employed and taking home a pay cheque. CEOs are particularly having trust issues about such employees, in case a recession strikes and causes financial stress. They are using AI software to go through emails and slack messages of employees, to track their engagement level and activities, in order to spot quiet quitting.

This approach also raises questions on companies feeling entitled to an employee’s personal time beyond work hours. That brings us to the recent storm around moonlighting, where an employee’s choice to take up extra work in their personal time is deemed unethical by some firms. Companies such as Infosys and IBM have made it clear that people giving their personal time to hustle on the side, for an extra buck beyond their salary, will be fired.

Who decides the value of an employee’s time?

Both quiet quitting and moonlighting trigger fear among HR managers, since in a remote working environment, they are impossible to detect. One can’t figure out motivational levels of a person on the other side of a screen, or tell what they do after logging off. While IT firms against moonlighting are primarily concerned about confidential data, they also feel it can reduce productivity, something companies also cite against quiet quitting.

So over the past couple of weeks, another term describing these fears has been coined by Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella, who advises against spying on workers. He has aptly summed it up as ‘productivity paranoia’.

So is ‘quiet quitting’ arising from laziness? Or has the pandemic-era stress and burnout hit motivation? Or is it really just a push back because the ‘hustle culture’ went too far?

The search for the right answer is an ongoing conversation.

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

RECENT STORIES

Lalit Kumar Modi: How the architect of IPL took a wrecking ball to India’s sacred relationship...

Lalit Kumar Modi: How the architect of IPL took a wrecking ball to India’s sacred relationship...

As Amazon shuts 3rd vertical in India, here are setbacks that have hit the e-commerce giant

As Amazon shuts 3rd vertical in India, here are setbacks that have hit the e-commerce giant

After Ashneer Grover's exit, mass resignations hit Bharatpe at the top level

After Ashneer Grover's exit, mass resignations hit Bharatpe at the top level

How To Avoid Fake or Invalid Coupon Codes?

How To Avoid Fake or Invalid Coupon Codes?

Ways to Become A Successful Trader in Stock Market

Ways to Become A Successful Trader in Stock Market