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Why I Don’t Want to Talk About Quiet Quitting

Workplace expert Lindsey Pollak challenges the misnomers behind the term, “quiet quitting,” noting its negative implications may not actually be such a bad thing.

By Lindsey Pollak

Originally published by Lindsey Pollak, Career and Workplace Expert.

Every month, I have a call with my fabulous content marketing team at Rep Cap to talk about my upcoming month’s newsletter. On our latest call, I told them that the one thing I absolutely didn’t want to write about this month was “quiet quitting.” 

Why not? I’ve seen so many different definitions of the term swirling around that I’m beginning to wonder whether any of us knows what quiet quitting even is.

My team’s response? 

“Why don’t you write about why you don’t want to write about quiet quitting?”

So that’s exactly what I’m doing. Here’s why I’d prefer not to talk about one of the most viral topics in HR circles today.


I love the alliteration of the term quiet quitting as much as the next word nerd. It’s a compelling term. It’s fun to say. So, I totally get why the phrase has become so popular. 

But I think when it comes to actual meaning, the term is misleading.

As I understand it, quiet quitting refers to either “phoning it in” and doing the bare minimum at your job, or pulling back and setting boundaries on overwork or boundaryless work.

No one is actually quitting, quietly or otherwise. And, for the record, “doing the bare minimum” and “setting boundaries” are nowhere near quitting, nor are they necessarily a bad strategy in all situations.


We’re still extracting ourselves from the chaos and uncertainty of working in the midst of two-and-a-half-years of a global pandemic, and that’s no easy task.

While many of us want to believe the chaos of the pandemic is in the past, it’s not. In my view, quiet quitting however you define it is just another symptom of the chaos. We simply don’t have long-term clarity yet, and the act of disengaging from work in some way is an understandable reaction to the past few years.

I have a home office, and I personally struggle with feeling connected even in my own business. I need to schedule time for social activities, and switching between my “mom” and my “professional” roles in the same home context is still a struggle.

But the problems we’re experiencing now aren’t necessarily permanent. We’re still working towards more positive long-term solutions. So, naming this “quiet quitting” trend feels not just inaccurate but also premature. 


I have to admit there’s something about the concept of quiet quitting that I inherently like. It’s forcing us to talk about boundaries and what was broken in our work processes and expectations even before COVID.

If an employer gives someone a job description but then expects employees to go above and beyond, then the job description isn’t accurate or fair. The employee can never win if they don’t know what they’re working toward or what success looks like.

I was once spoke to leadership at a firm who told me that, although their official policy was to work on-site three days a week, they told employees that if they really cared about their jobs, they’d come in all five days. That’s an incredibly toxic attitude to have toward employees. In the interest of transparency, some things just have to be built into official policies and documents.


Finally, I don’t like the implied negativity of the term quiet quitting. It implies that quitting is always a bad thing. If an employee is really disengaging, then maybe it’s important for the employer to explore the reasons why. If you are an employer concerned about QQ, start by asking yourself some basic questions:

  • Are you taking regular steps to keep employees engaged? 
  • Are you developing a culture for the hybrid environment and inviting employees to contribute to that culture?
  • Are you setting clear boundaries and realistic job descriptions? 
  • Are you giving feedback and asking people what their career plans are? 
  • Are you training and developing people at all levels so they feel like they’re growing?

Remember that work is a relationship. If you are an employer and someone on your team is disengaging, it’s worth asking: Is it you, or is it them?

If you’re confident that you are doing everything you can, but some people are still disengaged, then maybe it’s better that they self-select out. Quitting isn’t always bad!

I’ve been in situations with people who weren’t happy in their roles. It just wasn’t the right job for them, and they did disengage. But instead of trying to re-engage people who will never be happy in those roles, that effort might be better spent finding people who will truly enjoy the work and want to be there.

I said I really didn’t want to write about quiet quitting — but I guess I just did. What do you think of the buzz around this topic? I’d love to know!

About the Author

Lindsey Pollak is a New York Times best-selling author and one of the world’s leading career and workplace experts. She is passionate about helping individuals and organizations thrive in the ever-changing, multi-generational world of work.

Lindsey was named to the 2020 Thinkers50 Radar List, which honors the top global management thinkers whose work is shaping the future of how organizations are managed and led.

Her latest book is a response to the Covid crisis: Recalculating: Navigate Your Career Through the Changing World of Work, which was published by HarperCollins on 23 March 2021.

Her previous book, The Remix: How to Lead and Succeed in the Multigenerational Workplace (HarperCollins, 2019) was named a Book of the Month by both the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times. She is also the author of two career advice books for young professionals: Becoming the Boss: New Rules for the Next Generation of Leaders and Getting from College to Career: Your Essential Guide to Succeeding in the Real World.

Lindsey’s speaking audiences and consulting clients have included more than 250 corporations, law firms, conferences and universities, including Aetna, Citi, Estée Lauder Companies, GE, Goldman Sachs, Google, Pfizer, Verizon, Yale, Harvard, Wharton and Stanford.

Her advice and opinions have appeared in such media outlets as The TODAY Show, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNN and NPR.

Lindsey is a Cappfinity Brand Ambassador and has served in the past as an official ambassador for LinkedIn, a Millennial workplace expert for The Hartford and chair of Cosmopolitan Magazine’s Millennial Advisory Board. In her philanthropic work, she serves as a board director of FourBlock, a national nonprofit that supports veteran career transition. Lindsey is a graduate of Yale University and is based in New York City.

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