People have serious opinions about not taking your job too seriously.
The viral term “quiet quitting” isn’t really about quitting, nor is there anything quiet about the debate it has unleashed about careers and coasting this summer. What started as a quiet movement among office workers looking to draw firmer work-life boundaries after two years of pandemic overtime has grown into a rallying cry.
Of course, every generation of workers has had its anti-work philosophies and many managers and striving colleagues have always taken issue with them. Cue the quiet-quitting backlash: The concept has sparked a flood of vehement commentary from business leaders, career coaches and other professionals lamenting what the shift away from hustle culture means for Americans’ commitment to their jobs, while some young professionals are praising it.
“Quiet quitting isn’t just about quitting on a job, it’s a step toward quitting on life,” wrote Arianna Huffington, founder of health and wellness startup Thrive Global, in a LinkedIn post that has garnered thousands of reactions. Kevin O’Leary, co-star on ABC’s “Shark Tank” and chairman of O’Shares ETFs, called quiet quitting a horrible approach to building a career: “You have to go beyond because you want to. That’s how you achieve success,” he said in a CNBC video essay.
How quiet quitting’s advocates and critics react depends on what they think the phrase means—and interpretations vary wildly. Some professionals argue the concept is saying no to extra work without extra pay and work stress, not necessarily phoning it in. Many detractors say the quiet quitting mind-set fosters laziness and hurts performance, even if baseline job expectations are being met.
Quiet quitters may think they’re preventing or curing burnout by doing less work, but better options exist, Ms. Huffington said in an interview. Coasting through your career instead of finding truly engaging work is a missed opportunity, especially when you could find more meaningful work in today’s hot job market, she added.
“As an employer, I really love when people in interviews say, ‘I give 100% when I’m working, and these are my boundaries.’ That’s very different from, ‘I do the bare minimum to get by,’” she said.
While some bosses push back against quiet quitting, saying that going above and beyond is the best way to get noticed, get raises and climb the corporate ladder, many workers are heaping scorn on the term itself, calling out the irony of doing a 9-to-5 job and calling it quitting.
Kristin Hancock, an Indianapolis-based communications professional, said that for her quiet quitting is a futile pursuit. There have been times in her career when she was dissatisfied with a job and wanted to coast, but she found herself unable to do so. Doing less felt frustrating and made her work feel even less meaningful.
“For people who are like me, the only other option is leaving,” she said. Ms. Hancock now runs a communications startup and is her own boss, a setup that she says allows her to reap the full rewards of her work.
Others say those who embrace quiet quitting could be selling themselves short. What some quiet quitters call doing the bare minimum actually means giving full-attention to their work, then having a life outside work hours, says Brian Gray, who works in web development.
After receiving a “meets expectations” score on a performance review at a past job—at which he regularly accepted last-minute requests to stay late at work and offered to take on extra tasks—Mr. Gray says he decided to stop chasing validation from his bosses by going above and beyond.
“You’re not coasting,” he said. “You are doing precisely the right amount of work.”
Who has the political leverage in the office to quietly quit is also up for debate. Mercedes Swan, a human resources manager and career coach, says the strategy may not work for a lot of people of colour. Because of negative stereotypes, Black women especially could experience backlash if they decide to step back or set firmer boundaries.
“It’s going to look like we’re doing less work over time when, actually, we are just performing at a level that everyone else typically is,” she said, adding that from a performance standpoint, people of colour can also experience stronger penalties.
Some critics say they fear quiet quitting is corrosive to workplace cultures—and the bottom line—because it’s demoralising to efficient workers to see others phoning it in without penalty.
“It’s not about the quiet quitters. It’s about everybody else and the unfairness that occurs there,” said Amy Mosher, chief people officer at human resources software company isolved. If quiet quitting leads to performance issues, she said, those workers should be let go to find jobs that truly engage them.
Jay McDonald, an Atlanta-based executive coach and former CEO of several small companies, says the onus is on business leaders to set clear performance expectations. If employees are meeting them, that’s what matters, not when or how long they work, he says.
“You have a responsibility to have good metrics and measurements for knowing whether somebody’s getting the job done or not,” he says.
Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’
New research tackles the source of financial conflict and what we can do about it
When couples argue over money, the real source of the conflict usually isn’t on their bank statement.
Financial disagreements tend to be stand-ins for deeper issues in our relationships, researchers and couples counsellors said, since the way we use money is a reflection of our values, character and beliefs. Persistent fights over spending and saving often doom romantic partnerships: Even if you fix the money problem, the underlying issues remain.
To understand what the fights are really about, new research from social scientists at Carleton University in Ottawa began with a unique data set: more than 1,000 posts culled from a relationship forum on the social-media platform Reddit. Money was a major thread in the posts, which largely broke down into complaints about one-sided decision-making, uneven contributions, a lack of shared values and perceived unfairness or irresponsibility.
By analysing and categorising the candid messages, then interviewing hundreds of couples, the researchers said they have isolated some of the recurring patterns behind financial conflicts.
The research found that when partners disagree about mundane expenses, such as grocery bills and shop receipts, they tend to have better relationships. Fights about fair contributions to household finances and perceived financial irresponsibility are particularly detrimental, however.
While there is no cure-all to resolve the disputes, the antidote in many cases is to talk about money more, not less, said Johanna Peetz, a professor of psychology at Carleton who co-authored the study.
“You should discuss finances more in relationships, because then small things won’t escalate into bigger problems,” she said.
A partner might insist on taking a vacation the other can’t afford. Another married couple might want to separate their previously combined finances. Couples might also realize they no longer share values they originally brought to the relationship.
Differentiating between your own viewpoint on the money fight from that of your partner is no easy feat, said Thomas Faupl, a marriage and family psychotherapist in San Francisco. Where one person sees an easily solvable problem—overspending on groceries—the other might see an irrevocable rift in the relationship.
Faupl, who specialises in helping couples work through financial difficulties, said many partners succeed in finding common ground that can keep them connected amid heated discussions. Identifying recurring themes in the most frequent conflicts also helps.
“There is something very visceral about money, and for a lot of people, it has to do with security and power,” he said. “There’s permutations on the theme, and that could be around responsibility, it could be around control, it could be around power, it could be around fairness.”
Barbara Krenzer and John Stone first began their relationship more than three decades ago. Early on in their conversations, the Syracuse, N.Y.-based couple opened up about what they both felt to be most important in life: spending quality time with family and investing in lifelong memories.
“We didn’t buy into the big lifestyle,” Krenzer said. “Time is so important and we both valued that.”
For Krenzer and Stone, committing to that shared value meant making sacrifices. Krenzer, a physician, reduced her work hours while raising their three children. Stone trained as an attorney, but once Krenzer went back to full-time work, he looked for a job that let him spend the mornings with the children.
“Compromise: That’s a word they don’t say enough with marriage,” Krenzer said. “You have to get beyond the love and say, ‘Do I want to compromise for them and find that middle ground?’”
Talking about numbers behind a behaviour can help bring a couple out of a fight and back to earth, Faupl said. One partner might rue the other’s tightfistedness, but a discussion of the numbers reveals the supposed tightwad is diligently saving money for the couple’s shared future.
“I get under the hood with people so we can get black-and-white numbers on the table,” he said. “Are these conversations accurate, or are they somehow emotionally based?”
Couples might follow tenets of good financial management and build wealth together, but conflict is bound to arise if one partner feels the other isn’t honouring that shared commitment, Faupl said.
“If your partner helps with your savings goals, then that feels instrumental to your own goals, and that is a powerful drive for feeling close to the partner and valuing that relationship,” he said.
A sense of mission
When it comes to sticking out the hard times, “sharing values is important, even more so than sharing personality traits,” Peetz said. In her own research, Peetz found that romantic partners who disagreed about shared values could one day split up as a result.
“That is the crux of the conflict often: They each have a different definition,” she said of themes such as fairness and responsibility.
And sometimes, it is worth it to really dig into the potentially difficult conversations around big money decisions. When things are working well, coming together to achieve these common goals—such as saving for your own retirement or preparing for your children’s financial future—will create intimacy, not money strife.
“That is a powerful drive for feeling close to the partner and valuing that relationship,” she said.
Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’