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The Gaming Behind Quiet Quitting

The Gaming
Quiet Quiting

Although hardly a new phenomenon, the term “quiet quitting” has recently garnered the attention of over 100 million people on Tik Tok alone and has suddenly become a hot topic among employees as well as those in leadership.

While quiet quitting doesn’t actually involve leaving your job, it does entail quitting aspects of your work for various reasons that you may or may not even be aware of. Not to be oversimplified, it has also been the response by many against the toxicity of hustle culture: the societal norm that in order to succeed, you must give 110% to your work at the expense of your well-being.

Why the sudden focus on an issue that’s been around for ages? For starters, the pandemic played a big role in leading people to look more closely at the quality of their work-life balance. This time of reflection brought to light some hard truths about how they were spending their time and at what cost.

The psychology behind quiet quitting

When employees show up to work and are checking all the boxes off their to-do list, it should be safe to assume they are satisfied and dedicated to their jobs, right? While the signs might lead us to believe that, it is not always the case.

Considered a power move by some, quiet quitting often stems from feelings of being undervalued, underappreciated, or disconnected from leadership. As employees start to think about better options outside their organization, they begin to disengage from their work. While companies might believe they are in a mutual partnership with their employees, the reality is those who have a negative perception of their job or employer, are performing below their potential.

In 1984, a pair of management researchers referred to this phenomenon as ‘neglect.’ Upon studying the effects of job dissatisfaction, their findings revealed that when employees felt frustrated, lacked a sense of voice, control, and hope for change, they began to neglect their work. The researchers also noted that the warning signs of neglect, or quiet quitting as we now know it, were visible half a year before employees detached from their work. Later studies revealed that job neglect most often occurred after management either breached trust or violated unwritten expectations regarding its treatment of employees.

Recognizing quiet quitting in your employees

When employees no longer feel personally interested or invested in a company’s success, work quality and job performance suffer. Quiet quitting can come in many forms, however there are several telltale signs that may point to a growing detachment from work.

Lack of initiative:

One clear sign of job withdrawal is when an employee stops offering input, taking on new responsibilities, or working beyond bare minimum job requirements. Whether it is a gradual progression or something more sudden, these subtle behaviors can be easy to miss.


Disengaged employees might begin to withdraw their participation at corporate events, staff meetings, team building sessions, etc. They may also check and respond to fewer emails and calls as well as develop patterns of tardiness and absences.


Dissatisfied employees may begin to withdraw from interacting with their colleagues. This can become apparent in different settings, such as lunches, team meetings, and in general conversations.

Recognizing quiet quitting in your own work

As you reevaluate your priorities, goals, and desires, you may find yourself pulling back from some of your normal job functions and responsibilities. Because quiet quitting can have a negative impact on your career and your mental well-being, it’s important to understand how it may be showing up in your life and what you can do about it.

Stay in tune with your own thoughts and behaviors. Recognize thoughts such as “I will not go above and beyond for a company who doesn’t appreciate me.” And “There must be more meaningful work out there.”

As you begin to disengage from your work, you may experience a growing discontentment that leads to a negative attitude and other unhealthy emotions. In order to achieve long-term happiness and success, take charge of the situation by finding meaningful ways to re-engage with your work or by making clear decisions about your next steps.

If you find yourself detached and withdrawn from your work, here are a few tips to help:

Set clear boundaries.

Be direct in your communication with your manager. Get on the same page about boundaries and expectations. This will help to avoid any passive aggressive behavior and will lead to positive outcomes for everyone.

Have a positive attitude.

Practice gratitude and focus on the parts of your job that you do well. Try to reframe negative thoughts into positive ones and make a conscious effort to see the value in your work and what your work affords you.

Invest in personal relationships.

Develop friendships and partnerships with your colleagues and turn to them for support and camaraderie.

Take responsibility.

Be proactive in finding solutions. Request to meet with your employer to come to a place of mutual understanding. Take initiative in finding new ways to approach your work and take ownership of creating value.

As we continue to search for ways to do meaningful and fulfilling work, it’s important that we acknowledge the direct role we play in the quality of our experiences.

While employers are called to recognize and meet the changing needs of their employees, they must recognize that they cannot accomplish this without a long-term commitment to growth, development, and collaboration.

Similarly, employees often have more control over their work situation than they might realize. With a few shifts in approach and attitude, they can go from being disengaged to proactive and invested in their work. However, if making a positive change just does not seem possible for you, it may be time to transition to a job that will allow you to apply yourself in a more purposeful way.

Although quiet quitting may be a widespread practice, it does raise the question of dedication, integrity, and consideration for others. When both employers and employees take the right steps toward healthy change, positive outcomes are sure to follow.