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Thought Leadership

Adam Bryant

In defense of “quiet working”

October 5, 2022

It’s certainly not as catchy as “quiet quitting,” the buzz phrase of recent months. But not everyone is disengaged from their jobs.

As the idea of “quiet quitting” went viral in the summer of 2022 (in case you missed it, you can catch up herehere, and here), the question in the early weeks was whether the phrase would be just a clever piece of alliteration regarding the need to set boundaries between work and personal time, or a real social phenomenon. It’s clearly the latter. A recent Gallup poll of US workers found that the number of people who say they are actively disengaged from their jobs is rising, and now makes up nearly half the workforce.

What’s going on? Part of the answer may be that, with so many employees working from home since the start of the pandemic, the emotional ties to companies have weakened. Also, people have been under a lot of stress, and all the uncertainty and disruption has taken an emotional and psychic toll. Another explanation is that the younger generations are recalibrating the role that work plays in their lives, and don’t want to make the kind of sacrifices that they saw their parents make.

There is a part of me that applauds people for setting more boundaries. But in all the talk of quiet quitting, it feels like work is getting a bad name these days—and it shouldn’t. “Quiet working” as a hashtag isn’t quite as catchy as quiet quitting, but some of us in the admittedly old-school camp need to speak up on behalf of work.

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The ExCo Group’s Adam Bryant wrote this article for his column in Strategy + Business.