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  • Writer's pictureTarryn Long

Quiet Quitting… it’s been here all along.

A common way some respond to Gen Z and Millennials (Xennials, for short, pronounced zennials) and their way of going about things is by implementing the eye roll over and over - and over - again, all the while perceiving their work ethic to be quite , well - ‘different'.

This new phrase "Quiet Quitting" recently invented by (yup, you guessed it) this generation that often catches the eye roll… it debuted this summer on a VERY familiar social media app. And people can’t stop talking about it.

However, this phrase is just a new way to describe what has been happening for decades in the workplace. It's just reworded for Xennials and their modern social media existence.

The truth behind quiet quitting resonates in similar phrases such as - "Setting boundaries" and "Not going the extra mile".

Workers that have been impacted by this not-so-new-trend where their current environment is distressed, normally just stay and set boundaries, or today they quit quietly. Instead of joining the Great Resignation and just outright quitting (for obvious reasons), they just ride the wave.

This stressed environment is caused by labor market disruption combined with employee coping and survival strategies that ultimately result in exhaustion. Can you blame them? If you are reading this right now, you’re likely exhausted too. Work keeps us beyond the clock, family is 24x7… coupled with the exhaustion caused by the pandemic, economic and geopolitical uncertainty, staffing shortages, isolation from remote work, anxiety from returning to workplaces, reduced employee purchasing power as a result of inflation, and dependent care challenges… the list goes on.

While the phrase has been 'modified', 'updated', 'gotten woke', the meaning behind it remains very much the same as it always has.

With all that being said, there are major differences behind Setting Boundaries and Not Going the Extra Mile. They’ve both been lumped into what we know as "Quiet quitting" and respectfully, setting boundaries can be healthy for the employer and employee as it results in reducing burn out, and has a positive effect. Whereas deciding not to go the extra mile can be seen in a negative light and that can be especially bad when an employee is looking for a reference for their next role.

The Xennials have a lot to teach us - and pinning this on their generation just isn't fair. The phrase may have gotten a makeover, but the meaning has very much been part of society for a while now. Surpassing many generations that can agree with the emotion and sentiment behind it.

Great leaders know this and do not/should not get swayed by 'generational' terminology and stereotypes.

In fact, another thing Xennials are teaching us - they want equity in what they give to their work environment. To tackle the matter at hand and support employees where possible, leaders might look long and hard at themselves and consider:

  • Reviewing manager and leader effectiveness

  • Addressing flexible work challenges

  • Modernizing pay and benefits

  • Listening to employees to seek understanding

  • Focusing on wellbeing

Losing a valuable employee to “quiet quitting” is no different to losing that employee to a new employer who is willing to offer the values and collaboration Xennials seek. Those rolling their eyes at the thought of this and fighting your employees to manage their challenges and issues says more about who you are … and it might deserve a long hard and loving look inward.


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