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If you’re feeling stressed or unmotivated at work, quiet quitting might seem like a good option, but experts say the effects on your mental health may not all be positive. Anna Artemenko/Stocksy
  • A new trend known as “quiet quitting” encourages employees to do the bare minimum at work.
  • Quiet quitting may lead to better work/life balance and improved boundary setting.
  • However, it could negatively impact career advancement opportunities and relationships with your colleagues.

Quitting a job often comes with a set of requirements, like handing in your resignation, working a notice period, and creating a handover document. But a new phenomenon, called Quiet Quitting, is turning that idea on its head.

To put it simply, quiet quitting is about doing the bare minimum at work. It’s about doing only what’s required of you without actually telling your boss you’re leaving. That might mean finishing work on time every day, always taking your lunch break, or turning down projects that are outside of your job spec.

Some see it as an antidote to hustle culture: a concept that suggests we must work tirelessly, often to the point of burnout, in pursuit of our goals.

If you’re feeling stressed or unmotivated at work, quiet quitting might seem like a good option, allowing you to strike a better work-life balance.

Since becoming a talking point on social media sites like LinkedIn and TikTok, it’s been hailed as a balm for our health and well-being, but do the experts agree?

Psychologist and well-being consultant Lee Chambers says quiet quitting is often a coping mechanism used to address the likelihood of burnout and chronic overworking.

“It can also manifest when considerable effort in a role isn’t valued and appreciated, and the lack of acknowledgment shifts employee behaviors toward detaching from their role,” he adds.

He believes quiet quitting can be beneficial in a multitude of ways, particularly in terms of having the confidence to implement boundaries.

As quiet quitting is a relatively new term, there isn’t any specific research on it just yet. However, Chambers says there is clear research to suggest boundary setting is an effective way to boost well-being and protect against burnout.

In particular, he cites a 2021 study that explores how healthcare workers could manage burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic by implementing work-nonwork boundaries.

“Quiet quitting has the potential to improve boundary setting, as well as helping people step away from toxic productivity,” Chambers notes.

“It may empower them to take control over their rest and growth time and create space for reflection on how they can embed well-being into their lives.”

Tania Taylor, psychotherapist and author, agrees with this synopsis. Where mental health is concerned, she says quiet quitting can ensure our home and work lives aren’t blending into one, while acknowledging that you are more than your job title can be empowering.

In addition, quiet quitting may allow more time for activities that replenish us, for example socializing.

“Quality time spent positively with friends and family is a key ingredient to improving our mental well-being,” Taylor points out.

Ironically, Taylor says quiet quitting may actually improve your productivity too.

“Ensuring you have the breaks assigned to you can improve productivity and motivation when you are working,” she notes.

“As well as that, switching off from work for several hours at a time gives your brain a chance to process the events of the day and can help you to problem solve from different perspectives.”

While quiet quitting may fend off the ill effects of stress, it’s not without its risks. There’s a chance that superiors and colleagues could notice that you’re no longer putting the effort in, which in turn may put your position in jeopardy or see you lose out on development opportunities.

Chambers adds that quiet quitting may also have a detrimental effect on feelings of personal fulfillment.

“Quietly quitting would likely lower our sense of engagement, purpose, and satisfaction, which are factors in our mental and physical well-being,” he explains.

“It has the potential to leave employees feeling like their role is meaningless, pointless, and boring.”

Taylor concurs. “Studies show that being less motivated and less engaged in work can result in higher levels of depression amongst employees,” she points out.

Taylor suggests that the effectiveness of quiet quitting for health and well-being may come down to the individual.

For example, employees who enjoy going above and beyond or believe they would feel guilty for not trying their best may not fare so well. Likewise, for those who still have an interest in progressing in their careers.

If you’re thinking about quiet quitting, it’s wise to consider the pros and cons first.

Taylor advises asking yourself some tough questions, such as what impact could this have on my future career and how fulfilled would I feel doing the bare minimum.

Next on the agenda, is learning to set boundaries and getting acquainted with a word so many of us struggle with at work: No.

“After an extended period of time going over and above your role’s expectations, changing to fit with the new boundaries you have set for yourself isn’t always going to be easy,” Taylor warns.

“If you have set the expectation that you will be on call 24/7, for example, it’s definitely worth having good, clear communication with your boss about your intention to implement a more effective work/life balance.”

Conversations like these can prove difficult for the confrontation-averse. Taylor suggests explaining succinctly the negative impact on your family life and in turn the negative impact it’s potentially having on your productivity when at work.

If you’re feeling unfulfilled at work, for whatever reason, Taylor believes ‘job crafting’ may be a more effective solution.

“Job crafting is a relatively new phenomenon where employees seek to adapt their role to fit what is most important to them,” she explains.

“For example, a delivery driver may take it upon themselves to not only deliver packages but to also build relationships on their rounds to enhance their level of job satisfaction.”

One thing is obvious: the way we work post-pandemic is changing and priorities have shifted. So, is quiet quitting an effective way to manage the relentless pressure to perform and the stress that comes with it?

The jury’s out. On the one hand, it may give you the mental break you need but on the other, it can have a negative effect on job satisfaction and how you’re viewed by bosses and colleagues.

Just as you probably wouldn’t hand in your notice on a whim, quiet quitting isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly.