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Quiet quitting is “where you’re not outright quitting your job but you’re quitting the idea of going above and beyond”


After going viral on TikTok, the idea of quiet quitting has become a focal topic of discussion. What is ‘quiet quitting’ and is it something that organizations should be worried about?

The video describes quiet quitting as “where you’re not outright quitting your job but you’re quitting the idea of going above and beyond”. It is a shift against the hustle-culture mentality. Since posting, the video has garnered over 3 million views on the platform.

Why are workers quietly quitting?


Is quiet quitting a result of employee disengagement, employee burn out or is it indicating a problem with the current company culture and leadership?


Reasons People are Quietly Quitting

Some say that quiet quitting is a generational phenomenon, resonating the most with younger people. A 2021 Mental Health Research Canada (MHRC) study would support this. In studying the responses of 5, 500 Canadian employees, they found that “younger Canadians (18–34-year-olds) are less engaged in their workplace, less likely to say they enjoy their work (51%) and are proud of what they do (57%), are less committed to the success of their team or organization (60%) and are less willing to give extra effort (60%)”.  An important question then is how can companies elevate engagement with young people?

Others believe that quiet quitting is a response to workers being overworked and underpaid amidst rising costs of living during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the same MHRC study, a whopping one third of Canadians are feeling burned out at work. Burnout is highest among younger women, particularly in managerial or unionized positions and who work for larger organizations. The likelihood of burn-out decreases with age, but is most prevalent in the 18–34 year-old age category and least prevalent in the 55+ age category – however, regardless of age, few say their employers offer programs or policies to prevent burnout (35%). If the root cause of quiet quitting is higher levels of burn out and exhaustion at work, organizations need to focus on nurturing their people and creating a culture where their teams can thrive.

There’s no denying that there’s been a change in what talent is looking for in a company. One thing that we learned during the COVID-10 pandemic was how important flexibility became for organizations to keep talent during “the great attrition” period. In an interview with CBC Toronto, Tim Magwood, co-founder of 1-DEGREE/Shift, stresses the need for flexibility and adaptability as a response to the quiet quitting movement. He says that “[w]e really need to adapt, and one-size-fits-all just does not work anymore.”

Addressing Quiet Quitting

It comes down to culture. People’s worth and value is not equated to their output or productivity – why go above and beyond for a company that doesn’t value or recognize you (through fair compensation, strong culture of giving feedback, investing in your development etc.)? The hustle mentality has negative side-effects – celebrating a workaholic mindset creates a culture of prioritizing performance over people. Shifting work cultures from transactional to relational elevates engagement and strengthens a sense of meaning at work. If an organization’s workers are quietly quitting because of a toxic or under-appreciating workplace culture, it won’t be long until they quit outright.

In a 2021 PWC study of Canadian office employees and employers, 62% of Canadian employer respondents claimed maintaining morale and company culture has been one of their biggest work challenges since the start of the pandemic.

What can organizations do to strengthen their cultures?


In our experience, it begins with leaders. There is an old saying that people don’t quit their company – they quit their manager. Leadership plays a vital role in cultivating and shaping a company’s culture. During the pandemic, the way that leaders adapted (or didn’t adapt!) during this uncertain time had profound impacts on employee experience. The pandemic and now the return to office has demanded more from managers and it has revealed their inadequacies. Leadership development is needed now more than ever.

What kind of leadership development is needed?


Leaders need more than skills training (horizontal development) in a constantly changing environment.  What they need now is vertical development – transforming mindsets to have a greater impact in the way they show up as leaders. In vertical development, leaders cultivate their adaptability, deepen self-awareness and strengthen collaboration. It’s time to shift the focus of leadership development initiatives away from skills and toward supporting what will truly enables leaders to succeed.

Every leader wants to make the biggest positive impact, and organizations that prioritize vertical development in leadership help them do that. When organizations prioritize vertical development in leadership, they are valuing and supporting that leader on a deeper level that recognizes their individuality. Without these kinds of initiatives, it’ll be the leaders who quiet quit first.

Want to learn more about how to incorporate vertical development in your leadership initiatives? Let’s connect!