By Sherri Kolade
“Quiet quitting” — It’s a new buzzword circulating the internet, which is a shiny corporate-esque phrase that simply means just doing one’s job description and nothing beyond that.
Forbes notes that quiet quitting is a misnomer because it’s missing another part: the toxic work culture.
“Participants aren’t actively plotting to leave their jobs or doing anything other than working when they’re on the clock,” according to the article. “In fact, quiet quitters go about their business, performing functions as required during their agreed-upon working hours. It’s not a radical stance.”
From working overtime to checking emails on vacation – work expectations that go beyond the norm often become actions that are “expected without a word.”
The article added that another term “quick quitting” (quiet quitting’s cousin) is also in the mix where people would rather leave within 12 months of a job if they’re unhappy rather than stick it out.
These terms all center on employees being treated poorly by superiors to either push them to quit voluntarily or “quit in place.”
“This can happen when leaders either don’t know how to have honest conversations or don’t value vulnerability—and employee disengagement ensues,” according to the article and there needs to be communication to continue. “If employees are setting healthier boundaries by slowly checking out of hustle culture, leaders need to look closer at the systems that have created this need.”
These work phenomena are cropping up as a result of the pandemic and The Great Resignation where a beleaguered workforce said enough was enough of overworking and being undervalued, and realized more options abound beyond their job descriptions.
Not to mention mental health is not a separate component from work and employees finally had an opportunity to slow down and evaluate or re-evaluate things.
“As a result, there’s been a major shift in people’s values and priorities,” according to the article. Workers are much less likely to put up with poor management or an unhealthy work-life balance.”
While quiet quitting is all the rage, some say this mentally-clocking-out-while-working component is not an option for Black employees who have to sometimes work harder than their white counterparts to still earn less cents on the dollar. In the long run, this translates to an average Black family having less than one-tenth of the household wealth of their white counterparts, according to reports.
Theroot.com notes that some Black voices in this conversation say it’s nothing new but doing the bare minimum and the task of doing the job of two to three people is not where it’s at.
“It’s called reclaiming your time, setting boundaries, closing your computer when you’re done working, not doing the job of two to three people. You know, stuff like that,” Charnay, who goes by @theresumeaddict said in the article.
Stephanie Perry, @housesitterschool explained in the article that the concept doesn’t work for Black women.
“Black people aren’t talking about this because for most people of color, ‘quiet quitting’ is simply not a choice. The last ones hired and the first ones fired, we can’t afford to be caught slippin’ on the job, even if what we consider slippin’ is normal output from our co-workers,” per the article.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for Black people (7.1 percent) was over double that of whites (3.2 percent) in December 2021.
Forbes notes that the cure for quiet quitting is to humanize work and understand the employee’s plight.
“How you view that trend reveals a lot about the kind of leader you are. If your instinct is to think these so-called quiet quitters are being lazy, you’re missing the point – and missing an opportunity to improve yourself as a leader and your organization as a place to work,” according to the article. “There are reasons for burn-out that should be immediately obvious: pandemic, social unrest, unpredictable economy.”
Tenicia Moulden, attorney, coach and speaker, agrees that quiet quitting is not primarily for Black people.
She told the Michigan Chronicle that “Black people do not have the luxury to quiet quit.”
“Quiet quitting does have its origin from burnout,” she said. “I fully believe someone should not put their mental health in harm’s way. But Black people would lose opportunities by not taking advantage to go above and beyond. As an employer, I am always on the lookout for the skill set of high initiative. Unfortunately, quiet quitting for Black people could come off as being lazy. Once the lazy label has been made, it tends to stick.”
She adds that if someone is not willing to go the extra mile to help their employer or team succeed, they should speak to that employer about their concerns or seek employment where they can be happier.
“Quiet quitting could lead to squashing opportunities for both employer and employee; no one wins,” she said.