Shut down your laptop at 5 p.m. Do only the tasks assigned to you. Spend more time with family. These are just a few of the common examples used to define the latest workplace trend of “silent weaning.”
Some experts say it’s a misnomer and really should be defined as setting aside time for self-care.
Ed Zitron, who runs a media consultancy for tech startups and publishes the work-focused newsletter Where is your Ed?believes that the term stems from companies exploiting the labor of their employees and how these companies benefit from a culture of overwork without additional compensation.
“If you want people to go above and beyond, compensate them. Give them $200. Pay them for the extra work,” Zitron told NPR via email. “Show them the direct path from ‘I go beyond’ to ‘I am rewarded for it’.”
A TikTok video about the silent shutdown posted in July by @zkchilin (now @zaidleppelin) has gone viral. Many TikTok users shared their own experiences in response, with #quietquitting gaining 8.2 million views on the platform as of 4 p.m. ET Thursday.
Quitting smoking quietly does not actually mean quitting smoking. Instead, it was seen as a response to the culture of restlessness and burnout; employees “stop” going above and beyond and refuse to do tasks for which they are not paid.
How employees changed their approach to work
Some workers have expressed the wish for a less rigid line between their work and personal self. The professionals told NPR morning edition how during the pandemic they have made changes to their professional lives, from the way they dress to their career field, to more closely align with their personal values.
“I started to realize that all the issues of being away from work to spend time with my kids was all I wanted to be a really good employee,” Kristin Zawatski said. NPR morning edition. “But my work speaks for itself.”
Zawatski works in project management, a job that has given her the flexibility she needs as a mother of two. Although she always made sure her job was done, she felt guilty every time she had to leave early or take a day off. That changed with the pandemic.
“Knowing that life could be short, I didn’t want to waste it all the time worrying about what kind of employee I was because my kids don’t care what kind of employee I am,” Zawatski said. . “My kids care about the kind of mom I am.”
The silent shutdown is part of a broader reassessment of the place of work in our lives and not the other way around. As Gen Z enters the workforce, the idea of quitting quietly has gained traction as Gen Z faces job burnout and endless demands.
However, Gen Z isn’t the first generation to experience burnout, and quitting smoking quietly isn’t a new idea. Zitron shared his frustrations with the framing of the term, as it misrepresents the tasks you get paid for with the idea of quitting your job.
“The term ‘silent quit’ is so offensive, because it suggests that the people doing their jobs have somehow quit their jobs, portraying workers as some kind of villain in an equation where they’re doing exactly what they were told,” Zitron said. .
Employers benefit financially from workers doing extra work without pay and it is reasonable for employees to object, he added.
“It’s part of an overwhelming trend of pro-boss propaganda, trying to portray workers who don’t do free labor for their bosses as somehow stealing from the company,” he said. Zitron.
For employers dealing with workers who may be showing signs of silent quitting, Zitron has a simple message for them: Pay them for extra work.