Quiet Quitting: Disengagement or Setting Boundaries?

Trinity Richardson

September 04, 2022

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What is "quiet quitting"?

Quiet quitting is the phenomenon of employees refusing to take on more responsibility than is in their job description. While some have compared it to employee disengagement, I would argue that quiet quitting is meeting your job requirements, no more, no less. The term "quiet quitting" was made popular by tiktok user "zaidleppin," though it is unclear who coined it. The term is being used to describe setting clear work-life boundaries, reclaiming the value of your time, and refusing to do work you're not being compensated for. While it is currently trending on tiktok and beyond, it is not a new concept by any means.

Shift in Culture

In the wake of Covid-19, 2021 saw "heightened rates of burnout" among American workers. The high demand of work was coupled with the stress of pandemic fatigue, and now we're seeing the consequences of that - though that might not be a negative thing. Although it is not new, the idea of quiet quitting has become more prevalent as Generation Z enters the workforce, which is unsurprising considering burnout is more likely to impact employees between 18 and 34. We're seeing a shift from hustle culture to separating work from life and finding satisfaction outside of work.


Quiet quitting seems like a healthy way for workers to accomplish their required tasks while taking time for their personal life, so why are companies concerned? Surely it's because they're worried that employees are disengaged, since that may be impacting their health and well-being. Surely that's it. Or maybe it's because with employees setting boundaries, they will no longer see the benefits of their workers going above and beyond - in other words, they will be forced to compensate employees for doing extra work.

Quiet Quitting vs. Disengagement

I understand the concern that quiet quitting may just be another term for employee disengagement, but there is a distinction. People shouldn't have to dedicate 100% of themselves to their work to be considered good employees. In fact, those with a good life-work balance are found to have higher productivity. It's time we start prioritizing people over companies.

Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

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