Ask Chuck: Is It Time to “Quietly Quit”?!

Dear Chuck,

I am now a remote worker (since COVID), and I find myself “always on.” It was easier when I could leave the office, go home, and get away from the stress of my job. Now home is my office so the stress seems 24/7. I am considering trying the “Quiet Quitting” method but want your input first.

Quietly Quitting

 

Dear Quietly Quitting,

This is a big topic right now and likely more complex than you may realize. To explain, I will discuss Quiet Quitting, Quiet Firing, and Quiet Returning.

Quiet Quitting

For those who may not know the term, quiet quitting is a trending phrase to describe the practice of setting boundaries at work and not doing any more unless compensated fairly. It is not about quitting your job, slacking off, or cheating your company while working from home—all common misconceptions. However, as I understand it, some view it as a call to do the bare minimum for what they are paid to do in order to get their lives back.

For some employees, the concept deeply resonates. They are tired of “hustle culture” or the nonstop demands of modern work life controlled by invasive technology. Some employers strongly disagree, believing that giving more—not less—is what propels people in their careers. Kevin O’Leary of “Shark Tank” calls quiet quitting “a really bad idea” and “the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.” Employees say that clear boundaries allow them to work smarter and be more productive during their business hours. Others contend that quiet quitting is a boost to one’s mental health which helps in all areas of personal and professional performance. See Healthline’s list of pros and cons.

Quiet Firing

Quiet Quitting may be trending, but Quiet Firing has been going on for some time. It is a passive-aggressive way to get unwanted employees to quit by giving poor performance reviews, assigning menial tasks, overloading with unimportant projects, avoiding one-on-one meetings, changing roles, and not giving raises. It saves time and money for the company: no severance and no 90-day trial/improvement process. It is dishonoring, negatively impacting others.

Cause and Effect?

I have to wonder if, in the bigger context, some of these cultural shifts in the workplace are due to giant misunderstandings brought on by poor communication during the dramatic change to working remotely. Is this why some people are quietly quitting, or is this why some employers are quietly firing? Is there a chicken vs. egg question to ponder?

On the Other Hand, “Quiet Returning”

Before one assumes that the labor shortage will continue, thus providing hired workers more leverage to craft their own job descriptions, another trend is at play that could change that. Joseph Coughlin at Forbes reports that retirees are returning to work—but on their terms. Approximately 2.4 million people retired during the first year and a half of Covid and are now in a stage of quietly returning. Many discovered that they missed the community, structure, purpose, and income. A survey of 500 retired job seekers by Joblist revealed that a majority of retirees are happily going back to work for a variety of reasons:

  • 27% need the money.
  • 21% fear inflation.
  • 5% cite stock market performance.
  • The vast majority want something to do.
  • They like both in-person and remote options.
  • 79% want part-time hours.

Coughlin writes, “They are not simply unretired, they are pioneers. These older adults are inventing something that is neither our current idea of retirement or of work. They are quietly creating something else—a new life stage altogether that sees the retirement age of today as a mile marker, not an exit.”

Retirees offer decades of experience and talent that will impact younger workers and help cover labor shortages. Some were laid off and look forward to working again. Others want to delay social security in order to draw a higher check later. Some desire health care coverage. Others are starting their own business or coming alongside someone else. Regardless, retirees are a wealth of information and inspiration. However, the return for many creates the fear of whether they will be accepted by younger coworkers. Others know they need to update skills.

 

Quiet Questioning First

  • How will drawing boundaries around your time impact your career? Will your employer notice? Are you prepared for the consequences if your employer is not happy?
  • Have you already tried setting boundaries and saying “No” to certain assignments?
  • Have you brought the problem to your immediate boss’s attention?
  • What has been the impact of being “always on” for your family, your health, your productivity, etc.? Can you verbalize this to your employer?
  • If you take on less, will you experience reduced job satisfaction or skepticism by bosses and colleagues?

Work As Unto the Lord

While I sympathize with your desire to “get your life back,” be sure you maintain a Christian attitude towards your employer and a grateful heart for the work you have. Larry Burkett, the late founder of Crown, said:

“Work plays a very important role in our lives as believers. It provides the opportunity to put into practice spiritual principles that otherwise would be mere academics.

The way we do our work day by day provides the best exterior reflection of our commitment to serve the Lord in a real, physical way.

It doesn’t matter whether that work is in the home, on an assembly line, or in a corporate office. Our true Christian beliefs will be reflected more clearly there than in any other environment outside of the immediate family relationships.”

Expect Fair Compensation

Employees deserve to be paid fairly for their work. If you believe that you are unfairly compensated, try explaining to your superior all the work that you are doing. Ask for help and understanding so that you can live within boundaries.

The Bible advises employers to be careful in their treatment of those they employ. Romans 13:7–8 is applicable to employers today, since many employees are underpaid and unable to keep up with rising costs: “Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.”

Quietly Pray

Pray for a godly attitude and for your employer, your colleagues, and your customers. God will help you with healthy boundaries and with accomplishing your daily tasks. Remember to

work as unto the Lord, bringing Him glory and honor while shining light into the workplace.

I want to thank my wife, Ann, for researching this topic and crafting my reply. She helps me every week, so I don’t want her to quietly quit!

If you are unsatisfied at work, take a Career Direct Assessment. It is a practical tool to discover the way you are wired and find a career that will fit your unique design.

 

This article was originally published on The Christian Post on September 9, 2022.