Quiet Quitting

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Are Employees Coasting at Work or Walking Towards the Lives They Want to Live?

ELLEN GELLER KAMARAS

Have you heard of the latest buzz words, “quiet quitting”?  This phrase has been trending on social media since a TikTok video was posted about quiet quitting in the summer, attracting millions of views. 

Around a month ago, I saw the term quiet quitting for the first time in a group chat and since then it’s been popping up in all my newsfeeds.  I wondered what all the hype was about. Is quiet quitting something new?  How does it relate to me as a Jew? 

Quiet quitting is not a new phenomenon and is primarily used regarding engagement at one’s job.  It is more of a mindset.  It also extends beyond work, to your outlook towards religion, dating, and other relationships. 

Contrary to what it sounds like, quiet quitting is not necessarily something negative.  One decision strategist, Annie Duke says, “Success lies in picking the right thing to stick to and quitting the rest.” 

Let’s explore quiet quitting at work and then talk about how it presents in other aspects of our lives. 

Quiet quitting at the workplace means you are performing the basic tasks required to keep your job. You are not quitting your position, but you are quitting the idea of going above and beyond, and no longer subscribe to the hustle culture mentality that says work is your life.   

What really resonated with me as a Jew, is how the video ended with the statement that your worth as a person is not defined by your labor. Jewish tradition encourages us to treat work as only one facet of a well-balanced life, together with our spiritual growth, family relationships, and connection to the larger world and to tikkun olam. 

What Triggers Quiet Quitting? 

Studies have shown that quiet quitting kicks in when employees feel undervalued or exploited.   

Quiet quitting can be viewed as something positive when an individual decides to prioritize their own mental health, wellness, and personal life over a job where they are not being appreciated.  In that sense, it can be a good thing, and can be considered to be intentional boundary setting and a form of self-care.   

Boundaries are necessary for healthy relationships, both at work and in one’s personal life. Boundaries are created between parent and child, between spouses, between friends, between family members, and between work colleagues.  Personal boundaries are the limits we set for ourselves relative to our level of comfort around others.  Personal boundaries help to keep us safe and allow us to improve relationships by creating clear expectations and responsibilities.  Examples of boundaries are saying no without feeling guilty, asking for what you need, respecting the boundaries your colleagues set, and building professional relationships at work. 

The pandemic was a significant trigger that led to the quiet quitting wave.  Many men and women experienced pandemic burnout from working long days from home (including taking care of young children and school age children doing remote learning), and laboring in understaffed organizations and in uncertain environments.  COVID-19 blurred the lines between work and life and many employees no longer want to sign on to meetings and check emails late into the night or to take business calls on the weekends.   

Rather than calling quiet quitting the Great Resignation or The Big Quit, human resource professionals and business leaders are recognizing that quiet quitting is more about the new life that employees are seeking and is not just about bailing.  

Small business coach and author Jeffrey Shaw writes, “They are walking towards the life they want to live. What people want is a job that fits into the life they want to live – not a life they have to fit into the job they have.” 

According to Dr. Robert Sutton, a Stanford University Professor of Management Science and Engineering, “Bosses should ask employees to do less, not more. Too many leaders think the key to success is to pile on staff, technology, meetings, training, rules – the opposite is true.”  Sutton proposes simplification and a subtraction process. This means eliminating tasks such as completing complicated expense reports and attending too many long meetings that are unnecessarily burdensome and sap too much time and emotional energy

Torah Principles   

A JTA article written by Andrew Silow-Carroll about quiet quitting discusses the Jewish take on work. Did you know that Samuel Gompers, the Jewish-British immigrant and labor leader, fought for the eight-hour workday back in 1886?   The author also addresses the Torah principles of workplace justice and the ideal worker-employer relationship.  For example, employees should work their required hours diligently and employers are obligated to treat their employees with respect and dignity. 

Quiet Quitting in Relationships  

Quiet quitting in relationships can also be a good thing.  When it comes to dating, relationship experts say quiet quitting is about dating intentionally and with boundaries, limiting your time on dating apps, and performing your due diligence before you accept a date.  Knowing what your requirements and “must-haves” are for a soul mate, are congruent with Jewish views about dating for marriage. 

As described earlier, although the term sounds harsh, quiet quitting in personal and work relationships can be a form of self-care and is about setting boundaries. 

If you are a people-pleaser, or can never say no, or are emotionally co-dependent (for example, you always feel like you are responsible for solving others’ problems), learning how to create boundaries can improve your life dramatically. 

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are now behind us. Many of us decide during the holidays to start fresh or set new personal, spiritual, and career goals for the coming New Year. I hope some of the ideas offered above help you to attain a healthier work-life balance, designate time to study Torah, to enjoy your work and personal relationships, and to cherish your time with family. 

Ellen Geller Kamaras, CPA/MBA, is an International Coach Federation (ICF) Associate Certified Coach.  Her coaching specialties include life, career, and dating coaching.  Ellen is active in her community and is currently the Vice-President of Congregation Bnai Avraham in Brooklyn Heights.  She can be contacted at ellen@lifecoachellen.com (www.lifecoachellen.com).