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I quit!!! Here’s why Gen X is quiet quitting in the technology sector.

Why Gen X Is Quiet Quitting in Tech

Quiet quitting can be different from one job to the next. Let’s start with the Wikipedia definition of Quiet Quitting: “an application of work-to-rule, in which employees work within defined work hours and engage in work-related activities solely within those hours… doing precisely what the job requires”. In simple terms, it means doing your job without going the extra mile. It means doing your job only during working hours.

If you’re familiar with hockey, you might know what a plumber in a team is. A plumber is a reliable and consistent player who’s never going to be the highest scorer. So, a quiet quitter can be seen as the plumber of the workplace. And this approach might look like an effective way to balance work and life. But is it?

Different types of jobs have different types of quiet quitting

Let’s assume for a moment I was a plumber (a real one), or any physical workers in the construction domain. Doing my job, following state-of-the-art practices in plumbing during the agreed working hours is most probably a really effective way of working. In that domain there may be an occasional request to do extra work or work extra time and a quiet quitter may reject the request. As an employer, this can be annoying, but the employer can also look for someone else to work those extra hours.

Next, assume I’m a thought worker (i.e. tech). This makes quiet quitting a bit fuzzier. What does it mean to do exactly what the job requires from me? Many companies have diverse ways of evaluating the performance of their employees in tech. Some have tried using hard numbers, for example, the number of tickets closed, the number of pull/merge requests implemented, the number of lines of code written. Attempts to measure output like this always fail. Such efforts fail because they don’t measure a lot of other quantitative as well as qualitative measures which are in conflict or equilibrium together.

Evaluating employee performance

But even if the job description is fuzzier for an intellectual job, it’s still some kind of a guideline for what’s expected. Even if evaluating quantitatively the performance of the worker is more difficult, we can say whether the person works well, average, or badly. So quiet quitting in that context is probably staying in that middle range, being an average worker. In general, those who don’t work well create problems, but those who work OK or above average are fine to work with. Do we really know Quiet Quitting is a problem for tech workers?

Detaching from work

As a thought worker, it’s very hard to detach from work outside the work hours. You always somehow think at least a bit about your job. I remember multiple times being woken in the middle of the night by my brain which thought it had found the solution to a problem I had had during the day. In such situations, I can try to ignore the thought, note it down, or go straight to work on it. If you go the path of quiet quitting, you will try to ignore any work-related thoughts which take place outside working hours.

More physical manifestations are easier to categorize. There’s already legislation being drafted in certain countries which create legal obligations around the right to such behavior, so can we consider that quiet quitting simply means creating some boundaries between work and life?

Alas, the definition of quiet quitting is not so easy to apply to thought workers. It can be as difficult to observe quiet quitting in thought workers as it can be to objectively measure the performance of them. It might drill down to a feeling of engagement, of purpose with your job. If you feel that purpose, you go the extra mile and you’re not quiet quitting. If you can’t feel it, you may quiet quit as a self-protection mechanism.

Differences with regular quitting

Beyond those periods of just quiet quitting, I’ve also quit my job several times. The decision for straight out quitting had (for me) no link to quiet quitting. It had been for salary, expanding my knowledge in an area beyond what was possible where I was working, finding more work-life balance, interesting new challenges being proposed… but never as a consequence of quiet quitting. I have the feeling that quiet quitting and quitting are rather different. You quiet quit because you don’t hear the call anymore. You quit because you’re hearing the call but need something else your company cannot provide.

The role of gamification

Gamification consists in applying typical elements of game playing, for example. point scoring, leaderboards, rules of play, and so on, to other areas of activity. I think it might be true for physical or repetitive work. But those jobs are probably the ones that will be lost to automation eventually. If you have an exciting job, one which challenges you, it’s probably not a really repetitive thing, and you can therefore probably not set clear objectives to reach to earn points and therefore be compared to other participants in a fair way. Maybe some part of the job can be gamified, but for the most part, it’s not a wise idea because mostly, it’s not about exploiting the game system to get the most points, it’s about figuring out what the game (the real world) is and creating something new from almost nothing.

And if you start counting points, you’ll break the spirit that enables it to happen. We need to find what is uplifting in our jobs and figure out how to make it even better in this new work from home/hybrid way of working. Companies that manage that transition well will become even more attractive for the future.

To learn more about quiet quitting, check out The Meaning of Quiet Quitting by Heraldo Sales-Cavalcante.

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Why Gen X Is Quiet Quitting in Tech via AccessWire by Ericsson with usage type - News Release Media

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Why Gen X Is Quiet Quitting in Tech via AccessWire by Ericsson with usage type - News Release Media
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