In the working world, 'quiet quitting' has created a slew of confusing narratives and mixed ideas about our professional values. Most importantly, it gleans into our ability to establish explicit work-life boundaries and care for workplace well-being.

what is quiet quitting?

The concept of ‘doing the bare minimum’ or not ‘going above and beyond’ already existed prior to the ongoing social media trend, or even social media in general. Similar experiences and phenomena have occurred in previous generations, but they were never labelled.

Quiet quitting does not actually imply quitting a job. You are still performing your duties and completing your core tasks but with no additional effort or enthusiasm. Quiet quitting simply means you do the things you need to do and you move on with your life.

As an employee, you may want to know how to protect yourself from unreasonable or toxic bosses and colleagues. You may also come to realise that you don’t actually enjoy the work that you are doing, despite having spent tens of thousands of dollars pursuing a degree in that field.

Whether you’re in the midst of self-discovery, or realising that you’ve been foolishly basing your sense of self-worth on KPIs, quiet quitting can be an empowering, conscious step to separate your professional from your personal self.

Here are some pros and potential risks of quiet quitting, as well the goals you can set your mind to for a more meaningful and engaging career.

why is everyone quitting their job?

Everyone has different reasons for quiet quitting.

A quiet quitting can stem from an underlying issue with the management team, lack of employee wellbeing, an intolerable bad boss, being underpaid or from the sense that your job performance is constantly being overlooked.

If you’re discontent with your job, you may find it more sustainable to manage your well-being by refusing additional tasks and workload that are above your pay grade or responsibility.

Ultimately, you must still need to understand your own personal and professional goals, including the kind of work experience you will enjoy and benefit the most from.

If you’re quiet quitting, you may be feeling mentally resigned from work, or simply wish to develop your life outside of work.

Consider whether quiet quitting is the best solution for you as of now, asking key questions such as:

  • Do I genuinely like my job and what I do here?
  • Do I like this job enough to see myself having career growth opportunities in the next 2 to 3 years?
  • If I dislike this job, will I consider a job switch in the next 12-18 months?
  • Am I meeting the minimum expectations just so that I can focus on something else, such as pursuing other interests or having my own personal time?

In a nutshell, quiet quitting is setting boundaries between your work and personal life.

It's a passive way of stepping away from the hustle culture and a redefined definition of your personal lives and work habits so that you have time to do the things that you enjoy.

workforce woes given way to personal enrichment
workforce woes given way to personal enrichment

pros of establishing a good work-life boundaries

1. having to enjoy work-life balance

A healthy boundary between your job and personal life improves your work-life balance. Drawing a line between your work and personal time not only helps you feel more relaxed, it also distinguishes productivity from your inherent self-worth and could change your outlook towards your personal well-being.

Poor work-life balance combined with work woes are increasingly giving employees reasons to seek opportunities to enrich themselves by engaging in activities that are outside of their job duties.

According to the Randstad Singapore’s Workmonitor 2022 Survey, 56% of employees aged 18-24 years old and 57%, aged 25-34 years old, said they would quit a job if it prevented them from enjoying their life.

The realisation that personal fulfilment is a top priority is more apparent than ever. Having successfully worked from home over the last two years, employees are finding more time to explore new gigs and hobbies to unleash their creativity and express themselves freely.

The quiet quitting trend emphasises the need of creating your own valuable experiences outside of your full-time job, whether through side gigs, recreational time-passers, or simply connecting with friends and family.

2. having to cope with the toxic workplace

Some employees quiet quit their jobs because they have a bad boss and work in a toxic environment. An unpleasant company culture and environment may contribute to a disgruntled mentality toward your job. If you’ve been making endless compromises to survive a toxic workplace and it’s draining you daily, you are racking up dangerous levels of stress. You’re jeopardising your mental health and or at risk of experiencing employee burnout.

Quiet quitting serves as a defence mechanism against colleagues from hell and other workplace red flags. You may find some of these scenarios familiar:

  • Poor team work ethics: gossip-mongering, micromanaging or bullying
  • Bad boss: Lack of employee compensation and recognition, or unnecessary overwork
  • Career stagnation due to a lack of career growth opportunities 

If you’ve ever encountered any of the above situations, chances are you have considered quitting at some point. Switching to a new job may provide you a new opportunity to connect with more supportive work peers and leaders, as well as having better work-life balance.

Quiet quitting may not give you the sense of stability you need when you’re constantly around people you don’t enjoy being with. These situations point toward a fundamental problem with your business leaders and company’s efforts to establish workforce diversity and inclusion. Staying in a job where contempt and distrust are baked into the culture does not alleviate the job stress you will still face during working hours, and will be unlikely solved by merely quiet quitting.

employee disengagement should be spotlighted, beyond just quiet quitting

Within the mixed perspective on quiet quitting, not everyone who does the bare minimum are disengaged workers or uninterested in their job and co-workers.

Quiet quitters are simply people who do exactly what they are hired to do and nothing more. This  includes people who enjoy and excel at their jobs, but who also value their lives outside of work.

Compartmentalising their job and external interest gives them the ability to search for personal and professional growth through their own means.

However, for those who are feeling disengaged where your career prospects leave you much to desire, here are some considerations:

1. if disengagement is your primary reason for quiet quitting

Be reflective and conscious about your reason for quiet quitting, especially if you dread your job. While it’s possible to perform within your job scope and enjoy your work, you may be part of the group that doesn’t enjoy what you’re doing at all, or find yourself working in an environment with colleagues who are almost intolerable to work with.

It's not uncommon for discontented workers to feel disengaged but still come to work and get paid. Disengaged employees are not just quiet quitters, they may also be unwilling to perform their job requirement in the first place and can’t be bothered to put in the extra effort to meet deadlines.

This could be due to a lack of positive work relationships and employee engagement as well as self-serving employers who pettily quiet fire you. If you feel unable to cope with your workload and have since logged off from your company’s uninspiring culture, it could be time to consider a career renewal.

time to switch jobs if quiet quitting did not work
time to switch jobs if quiet quitting did not work

According to the Randstad Singapore’s Employer Brand Research (REBR) Report, 31% of Singapore employees planned to change jobs in the first half of 2022, marking an 3% increase from 2021.

As mentally taxing as it sounds to place your trust in new career opportunities, just know that quiet quitting will not be the end-all solution if you’re already hating your job so much that you can’t be bothered to get out of bed.

2. if quiet quitting limits your financial freedom in the long run

Another consideration you need to account for is your financial situation, be it paying off necessities such as your house mortgage or funding your personal interests or vacation. Quiet quitting may cause you to miss out on career development opportunities against your more competitive peers, consequently resulting in a stagnant income or career.

It’s important to ensure your financial needs match your earnings, and you’ll need to plan for more than just quiet quitting.

If you have no alternative income, you may want to relook into your personal financial goals before you fully commit yourself to quiet quitting so that you can still live the life that you want to live.

take a sabbatical to explore where your career value lies

From a business perspective, quiet quitting is a bad idea as this might cause disturbance and conflicts among employees.

Undoubtedly, a highly pressuring job with long hours leaves you with a need for relaxation and rejuvenation. Employees can take a sabbatical to care for their personal needs, pursue their passion or learn new skills.

A sabbatical is a blocked period of leave taken for personal reasons, and it is either paid, partially paid or unpaid. This ranges from a few weeks to a few months depending on how long you have worked in the company, and you’ll be able to plan activities in your own time for this period. As such, this can be a better alternative to quiet quitting for the long term, as you are able to shelve your work woes away for a dedicated period to solely focus on your personal well-being and improvement.

Some employees use this time to travel, while others may use it to pursue further studies. Either way, the aim is to unplug from work and focus on things that truly matter to you. You can also use this time to help those in need through volunteering and making a positive difference in your community.

You’ll be able to exhibit your personal values by the actions you take, and leverage this as an anchor for your professional life. When you return to work, you can bring fresh and creative ideas which can make your work engaging again, or even venture into another career path.

when you’re ready to explore other career options

Whatever you feel about quiet quitting, or exercising the “bare minimum” mantra, it’s important for you to know and healthily pursue your priorities in and outside of your work life. It’s one thing to take on projects out of your comfort zone to grow, but if constant toil and unnecessary self-doubt are overriding your career success and engagement, you might want to reconsider your position on staying in a constrictive job.

This is where you may come to terms with making hard choices. Even though quiet quitting can help you identify your boundaries, you should be aware that you don’t need to commit to something you do not find favourable or reasonable. In the end, having quality time to spend with your family and loved ones or to focus on your external passion requires you to have a safe and accepting workplace.

If you are still dreading your job despite setting explicit boundaries, you may be serving a job function that you simply aren’t suited for, and it may be the signal to look for greener pastures in a more fulfilling career.

Whatever you do, believe in your ability to decide what is best for your well-being.

work with randstad

If you dread going to work beyond quiet quitting, you may be looking for a renewed future. Check out our latest job listings to explore different job fields and career specialisations. You can also reach out to our recruitment specialists for in-depth career advice and industry insights to discover your career future.

related content:

educate yourself on career growth.

read our career resources

find a more supportive employer.

apply for a job