You Could Be ‘Quiet Quitting’ Without Knowing It — and It Could Be Holding You Back

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You’ve probably heard about “quiet quitting”; but, even if you think you know what it is, it’s possible you could be doing it subconsciously. And if you are, it could be holding you back from moving ahead in your career.

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Here’s a look at exactly what the “quiet quitting” trend entails, signs you may be doing it and how to know whether it might be better for your career to actually quit your job.

What Is ‘Quiet Quitting’ — and Is It Always a Bad Thing?

Blair Heitmann, a career expert with LinkedIn, defines quiet quitting as “doing your job at the bare minimum to achieve better work-life balance.”

“For many, it’s a way to achieve better balance and is the latest move away from hustle culture,” she said. “It could mean simply seeking some more appropriate boundaries at work, like leaving work on time every day. For others, quiet quitting could move beyond this, like saying no to projects outside your job description or outright refusing to answer emails and Teams messages outside of working hours.”

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While it’s good to set boundaries, it’s important to examine your own intentions when enacting these new guidelines.

“It’s all about the way quiet quitting comes to life at work for you,” Heitmann said. “Are you pulling back in a way that enables you to still show up at work and support your colleagues? Or is the quality of your work changing? Are you quiet quitting to deal with burnout, which can signal healthy boundaries, or for a deeper reason, like job dissatisfaction?”

Signs You Could Be Quiet Quitting Without Realizing It

You may be pulling back at work without even consciously making the effort to do so. This tends to happen when you are feeling job dissatisfaction.

“Exhibiting passive aggressive behavior and feeling a lack of fulfillment are the first signs of quiet quitting,” said Joe Mullings, career expert and CEO of The Mullings Group.

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If you find that you are slacking off at work out of anger or because you are not feeling challenged, these are signs that you’re probably guilty of quiet quitting.

How Quiet Quitting Could Be Holding You Back

While it’s definitely OK to set boundaries at work, it’s important to assess whether these boundaries could be harming your career trajectory in the long term.

“There are elements of quiet quitting that move beyond establishing healthy boundaries at work into an area that may hamper professional development, promotions and raises, like saying no to projects outside your job description,” Heitmann said. “Your mindset and goals around how and why you work will determine how you interpret and bring to life quiet quitting.”

As Mullings notes, it’s important to differentiate between a “job” and a “career”; if you aim to have a career, quiet quitting can impede your upward trajectory.

“A job is a series of tasks that you have contracted with someone who has purchased the time in your day in exchange for your mental or physical labor. However, a career is navigated,” he said. “One should understand that a career is a building process. It is these compounding efforts over time that can lead to something powerful.”

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Quiet quitting also doesn’t resolve any issues you may be having at your current work environment.

“The quiet quitting trend is a short-term fix,” Heitmann said, “and doesn’t address the bigger issue of striking the right balance between your priorities at work and your personal life.”

What To Do Instead of Quiet Quitting

Quiet quitting can serve as a short-term solution to feeling overworked; but, for long-term job satisfaction, it’s important to examine your actions and what your ideal outcome is.

“Take some quality time to figure out what you want and need from work or if you’re experiencing challenges that can’t be overcome,” Heitmann said. “It is always a good idea to have an open and honest conversation with your manager about expectations.”

First, do some self-reflection.

“Think about your work priorities and pain points to help guide a conversation with your manager,” Heitmann said. “What can you ask for that might help you — shorter work days or an abridged work week, better respect for off-hours time, etc.? And ask away.

“Also, if you’re feeling disengaged or unmotivated, talk to your manager about what type of stretch goals and/or new work you could take on that will help you accomplish your goals while maintaining the balance that works for your life.”

When It Might Be Better To Quit Than To Quiet Quit

“If you’re quiet quitting because you’re not motivated by your job or aren’t happy at work and/or you’re not meeting the expectations of your role as a result, it might be time to find your next play,” Heitmann said. “Knowing when it is time to leave a job is very personal and tied to what you’re currently seeking in your professional life. Taking the time to identify where your pain points are, and trying to identify if these challenges are specific to your current job/employer or might be an issue with any job, can help you decide whether to stay or to go.”

Heitmann outlined some specific signs that could indicate it’s time to leave your job.

You Can’t Grow at Your Company

“Have you been offered any growth opportunities? Have you asked and been refused? If you’ve explored multiple growth paths within your current company and you’ve been vocal about your needs and still aren’t getting the opportunities you want, it’s likely time to move on.”

However, she warns against making any rash decisions.

“Don’t quit just because you’ve been passed over for a promotion — at least not in the heat of the moment,” Heitmann said. “Remember, growth doesn’t necessarily have to mean a promotion to a more senior role in your current department — it can also be a lateral move that helps you gain experience in a different function.”

There Are No Learning Opportunities

“Being able to up-level your skills or learn new ones is essential, and many companies are now offering continued learning and upskilling offerings to keep, and bring in, employees,” Heitmann said. “If learning opportunities aren’t there, know there are tons of companies out there that are going above and beyond to provide continued learning for their employees.”

You’re Not Proud of the Workplace Culture

“Professionals today say that good company culture gives them a sense of belonging in their day-to-day work lives,” Heitmann said. “Know what you’re looking for in your workplace, and ask yourself if you’re proud to talk about your job and if you and your company share the same values. If you answer no to these questions, it might be time to look elsewhere.”

There’s a High Turnover

“It’s not a great sign when there’s a rotating door of people leaving your company, especially if people you respect seem to resign out of the blue,” Heitmann said. “This could be an indication that there are systemic issues within your company or that something’s coming down the pipeline that people aren’t happy with. Try to gain some insight as to why people are leaving as those issues may affect you, too, and may signal it’s time for your exit as well.”

If any of these signs ring true to you, it may be time to move on. If you choose to do so, resign gracefully to prevent burning any professional bridges.

“No matter the circumstances that brought you to pursue the next step in your career, your network is your most valuable asset over the course of your career, and it’s important to leave your job in a professional way,” Heitmann said. “Give proper notice, respect relationships and offer yourself as a resource.

“It’s a small world, and you never know when your boss or colleagues might turn up as a customer or client in the future. In fact, our data shows you’re four times more likely to get hired through your network on LinkedIn, so don’t underestimate the power of your professional network!”

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About the Author

Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and People.com. Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert. 
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