Don’t listen to TikTok and don’t quit quietly

by Oct 17, 2022

I don’t know about you, but for the past month or so, my for-you page has been flooded with the latest work-culture lifestyle trend: quiet quitting. The movement is a response to work cultures in which employers expect you to go ‘above and beyond,’ maintaining or even encouraging a toxic work-life balance. ‘Quiet quitting,’ despite the name, is not entirely resigning from that role or workplace but instead repositioning your work to be more balanced. For example, not attending meetings outside your work hours, setting boundaries between your work and personal life, and not taking on more work than you can manage.

From @managermethod on TikTok

I know what you’re thinking: this sounds quite helpful, actually. Why am I telling you not to listen to it? To answer that, let me take you on a bit more of a deep dive, so we can explore where this trend comes from, how it applies to you, and why you shouldn’t quit quietly.

The background

‘Quiet quitting’ is a term popularised by TikTok, which first started exploding in late July of 2022. As previously mentioned, it is rooted in taking back power in your work life by setting up more firm boundaries. Although it’s a new trend, it indicates the change in attitudes around work since the pandemic began.

COVID-19 shifted the workforce, with hybrid work becoming mainstream, wellbeing becoming a significant focus in working environments, and changes in the internal labour market taking place (source).

The quiet quitting trend is happening because individuals are feeling underappreciated or undervalued in the workplace – a factor that plays into, but is also worsened by, the so-called ‘Great Resignation’.

The Great Resignation refers to the high rates of resignation in the workforce since the pandemic began. The coronavirus caused a global crisis that interrupted supply chains, businesses, and services. Because of the additional emotional burden of the pandemic and the overextension of existing resources placing pressure on workers, many began feeling undervalued. Individuals with enough confidence in their ability to find work elsewhere resigned, which furthered the strain on workers who didn’t feel confident enough to leave. This second group of workers, who felt equally undervalued or underappreciated, then tried to fill the role gaps, hoping for further satisfaction. If the same conditions continued, they began distancing themselves from work entirely in response (source).

Hence, quiet quitting.

I’ve simplified all of this in a meme.

Man with whiteboard saying: 'I don't feel satisfied at work so I want to quit, wait other people are quitting so I'll stay to fill their roles, their role does not satisfy me either.'

The problem

The problem with quiet quitting is that it is not a good solution.

That isn’t to say you shouldn’t set healthy boundaries with work or re-evaluate your relationship with your job. However, doing this ‘quietly’ is not a practical way to create lasting change for yourself or other employees.

Why should we be quiet about healthy work environments?

Quiet quitting is the easy way out. It is the solution that doesn’t require talking with managers or your employer and feels better in the short term. However, without communication or justification, putting these boundaries in place might reflect poorly on you. It might make it look like you no longer respect or value your work and could lead to strained relationships with your colleagues and employer (source).

If you’re feeling undervalued, the best way to solve the problem is to have a realistic conversation with your boss. Let them know what’s been going on and start to talk about how you could create a better work/life balance, or feel more appreciated through pay or compensation.

However, that is easier said than done. Quiet quitting is often driven by poor management, with bosses playing into the problem by undervaluing team members (source). Additionally, when your feelings are part of a broader problem, it can be much harder to speak up about the conditions because so many are going through similar or worse circumstances.

The reality

Whilst communication is great, if you are not in the position to raise your concerns with a superior, that’s okay. However, emotionally withdrawing from your work and just doing the bare minimum to keep your job won’t be good for your wellbeing in the long run.

So, if you cannot open up a dialogue or make some changes for the better, it might be time to start exploring what you really want out of a job. Quiet quitting can seem like a great short-term solution, but it might be worth reassessing your career to be happier and more satisfied in the long run. You don’t have to leave just yet, but maybe try some career and life design exercises and work on building your network outside your current organisation or team.

It will always be hard to decide to quit, and it’s not a decision to take lightly. However, try to trust yourself, your abilities and your feelings about your current workplace. If it isn’t working out, it is not the end of the world. More jobs are out there, and you will make it through this.

The takeaways

Good work environments are not unicorns.

A unicorn disappearing into bushes


By that, I mean that, unlike unicorns, good work environments are real and are more common than you think. The fact that you might not be in one right now does not mean you’ll never be. If you’re thinking about ‘quiet quitting’, consider speaking to your boss first. If you’re not in an environment where you can do that, consider exploring what you really want from your work and whether your current job provides that.

Remember that though work is a big part of our lives, you are not your career. It is important to place healthy boundaries in your work life and remember that your worth does not come from your work. In your life, you’ll likely have a whole variety of jobs. Some of them you’ll love, and others you might not.

Finally, don’t let the flood of TikTok’s and news articles about quiet quitting discourage you; the good ones are out there. Good jobs and good managers do exist. You just have to have the courage to find them.


Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

Amelia Bussing

Amelia Bussing

Communications Assistant

Amelia is a Sydney-based writing and communications enthusiast working at UTS Careers as a Communications Assistant. She is a current UTS Student, studying a Bachelor of Communications (Creative Writing & Advertising), and a Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation. She is passionate about creativity, storytelling, and the art of a well-timed gif, and has a vast collection of crazy socks.