Quiet Quitting and Business Owners

As a result of a TikTok video posted by Zaid Khan that went viral, with over 3 million views, the term “quiet quitting” has become the subject of extensive media coverage. The CBC, BBC, The New Yorker, The New York Times, and just about every other media source have commented on this new phenomenon. But is it new? Haven’t there always been employees who only do the bare minimum?

In a nutshell, quiet quitting is when employees do the equivalent of working-to-rule if they were in a union. If their hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m., those are precisely the hours they work, and good luck with trying to get them to do anything outside their job description. They lack engagement; it’s a job, and that’s that! There is no commitment to emotional energy. To some people, this designates them as work shy or lazy. To others, it’s fighting for work-life balance.

The quiet-quitting phenomenon was born, in part at least, from the burnout people felt during and after the pandemic. There was a move toward an expectation of fair monetary compensation – of not being taken advantage of by employers. This stems from a general feeling that employers constantly want employees to do more while giving very little, if anything, in return. Loyalty, employees feel, is not always a two-way street. When people don’t see that their extra effort results in more money or fast-tracks them up the corporate ladder, they become disillusioned. Personal goals are sidelining career goals. People work fewer hours, and a lower percentage work like dogs to reach the top. The “top” no longer seems as important as it once did.

We went from being constantly connected to our jobs to wanting to switch off and disconnect from our jobs after hours. Today, due to the mass retirement of the baby boomer generation, almost every company is looking for workers. This exodus of workers, combined with young people expecting to work fewer hours and making their personal life a priority, has caused a perfect storm.

While all the media coverage focuses on employees, what about you as a small business owner, freelancer, consultant, or micro-enterprise? The last three years have been challenging and we are all jaded. Business owners and those in the gig economy are also quiet quitting, even if they don't realize it. Are you one of them? What are the signs?

  • Are you working as many hours as you were three years ago?

  • Is it harder to see a successful future?

  • Are you struggling with giving your business enough emotional engagement?