TikToker Touches Off Debate After Saying He's 'Quiet Quitting' Job

Woman sitting at a desk, with a laptop open in front of her, resting her head on one hand and a bored expression on her face
Unsplash | Magnet.me

Virtually everyone knows what it's like to work a job, and likewise, virtually everyone knows what it's like to quit a job. But is there a third option, one that leaves you with one foot in the door and one foot out?

A TikToker has sparked a lively discussion after popularizing a workplace phenomenon, one that isn't quite working and isn't quite quitting.

Hustle culture is toxic.

An office space full of employees
Unsplash | Alex Kotliarskyi

A few years back, hustle culture — basically working endlessly long hours to make pay — was a big deal. But there's been a big backlash, namely because the idea of working excessively hard for an uncertain reward is inherently toxic.

What is 'quiet quitting'?

Still from TikTok video describing concept of 'quiet quitting'
TikTok | @zkchillin

It might sound like quitting a job without telling anyone or making a fuss, but it's quite a bit more nuanced than that. In a short, contemplative TikTok video — hardly the norm on a platform like TikTok — user @zkchillin explains the concept.

It refers to no longer going above and beyond at work.

Still from TikTok video describing concept of 'quiet quitting'
TikTok | @zkchillin

"You're not outright quitting your job, but you're quitting the idea of going above and beyond," he explains. "You're still performing your duties, but you're no longer subscribing to the hustle culture mentality that work has to be your life. The reality is it's not, and your worth as a person is not defined by your labor."

That's quiet quitting in a nutshell.

Still from TikTok video describing concept of 'quiet quitting'
TikTok | @zkchillin

That's it. There really isn't anything more to it. It represents a break from the idea that you need to give 150% in order to get noticed and get that promotion. It's all about doing exactly what's expected of you, and nothing more.

There's an important caveat.

Comments on a TikTok video about 'quiet quitting'
TikTok | @zkchillin

As zk notes, this works best in jobs that you find tolerable, so it isn't a struggle to go in and do your job every day. Of course, in a toxic work environment, quiet quitting might not work so well.

Commenters had some thoughts.

Comments on a TikTok video about 'quiet quitting'
TikTok | @zkchillin

If you had any doubts that hustle culture is dead, just peruse the comments. I couldn't find a single one that was critical of the quiet quitting mindset. I mean, the idea of doing your job as intended is pretty tough to criticize in the first place.

Plenty of people are doing it already.

Comments on a TikTok video about 'quiet quitting'
TikTok | @zkchillin

Even if you didn't have a term for it until viewing the video, quiet quitting is already happening. In fact, most of us probably practice it in one form or another. It's a good way to preserve your mental health while still bringing home a paycheck.

The videos have picked up some traction.

OP seems like a quiet, thoughtful sort, so he was genuinely surprised to see multiple outlets picking up on his story (you can add one more outlet with this story!). It's great to see the idea pick up traction.

Are there better terms?

In a second follow-up, these alternative terms were presented: boundary setting, meeting expectations, work to rule or, in China, the 'lying flat movement.'

In all cases, they push back against the notion that people should do more than what's required of them at work.

Are you quiet quitting?

If you look back at your job history, there must be at least one point where you were actively engaged in quiet quitting. Is this the case? Are you quiet quitting right now? Be sure to let us know in the comments.