Recently, new terms have emerged that are new to the work environment--hustle culture and quiet quitting. Some people argue that the second is, in many ways, a product of the first.
Hustle culture (also known as workaholism, toxic productivity, and burnout culture) is not a new concept. This mindset promotes the idea that anyone can achieve the American Dream simply by working hard enough. However, many members of Gen Z and millennial groups have grown up experiencing what the darker side of this culture--long work hours and work-life imbalance--has had on their families. Many are drawing the line by engaging in what has been termed “quiet quitting.”
The term “quiet quitting” has prompted a flurry of comments on social media platforms. Detractors claim it is a term to describe those whose intent is to do as little as possible, in order to retain their jobs. Others define it as a process where employees reject the hustle culture and quit the idea of going above and beyond. This doesn’t mean they are not engaged in doing the job they are hired to do, but are self-enforcing the boundaries employers have long touted as work-life balance by limiting their jobs to the tasks and responsibilities they were hired to do within a 40-hour workweek. These boundaries afford them the time needed to prioritize their personal and family life and mental health needs.
Based on that definition, the term “quiet quitting” is a misnomer. Employees aren’t quitting but are refusing to trade quality of life for climbing the corporate ladder at personal costs. This leaves employers challenged with finding ways to maintain and increase engagement, while supporting more sustainable work-life balance and fostering productivity.
A recent study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that working too much decreases productivity by 68 percent in employees who feel they don’t have enough hours in the day to complete their tasks. While technology has yet to uncover the way to stretch a day past 24 hours, it is possible to take a hard look at all aspects of completing assigned work, such as job structures, project and production deadlines, working conditions, etc. Employers might consider engaging employees in identifying areas that slow down processes and recommending modifications to help increase efficiency. This may create the crossroad where the hustle culture meets quiet quitting to find the elusive work-life balance, aka American Dream, both are striving for.