Quiet Quitting: Is This the New Way Forward for a Better Work/Life Balance?

By Yasmin Donald (she/her)

World war, an epidemic, and a devastating economic depression; that’s the backdrop of Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life. A Christmas movie about an overworked, businessman (George Bailey) who is shown the true value of life by a heavenly being.

In real life, November 2022, the situation is eerily not too different. Yes, we may be in the post-covid era now, and the ongoing war is situated in Ukraine not the UK, but we are all currently navigating the economic minefield that is price increases, strike-action and for many, an increased workload due to staff shortages.

The question is: Who or what is the angelic outsider that could save us? For some, it has been in the form of Tik Tokers and their videos on quiet quitting.

Quiet quitting essentially involves only working your contracted hours; no more, no less. The Express finds that two in five office workers “are choosing not to work late anymore because they only do, work they are paid for.” Although some would describe this move as laziness, it is actually a shift towards a better work/life balance.

According to Business Leader, Luxembourg is ranked number one when it comes to work/life balance in Europe, with a happiness score of 7.2 – one of the highest across the continent. The standard Luxembourg work week is hours per day and 40 hours per week, whereas, in the UK, you may be expected to work more than 48 hours a week on average for jobs such as the emergency services, armed forces and more.

Unsurprisingly, it is a lot of these groups – ambulance workersnurses and firefighters –     that are currently on the brink of strike action over low pay and long hours.

Jeremy Sadlier, executive director of the American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration, suggests that quiet quitting is detrimental to the healthcare industry as it will negatively impact the quality of care. Instead, he recommends that hospitals “provide open and honest communication, set and maintain realistic work expectations, closely monitor employee engagement, recognize and reward high performance through options that extend beyond pay, and provide opportunities for career growth”.

Sadlier’s comments clearly indicate that quiet quitting is disadvantageous to the quality of service in particular sectors such as healthcare. Which means that this phenomenon isn’t an option for a lot of over worked employees.

The current online discourse of quiet quitting in the workplace points towards a much-needed wakeup call surrounding the issue of ongoing dissatisfactory working environments and the work/life balance.

With the holidays approaching,  food-inflation at a 42 year high, and energy bills on the rise, quiet-quitting may not seem like an option at all as pushing yourself to the limit within the workplace may just be the only way many survive this winter.

However, when we consider the success of the Scottish bin workers who saw wage increases by refusing to work until they received a 10 percent pay rise, quiet quitting if discussed with a superior, could be the catalyst for important change in the workplace environment.

However, according to the BBC, wage increases aren’t managing to keep up with the rising prices of inflation within the UK, despite wages rising by their fastest rate in over 20 years. Once inflation is taken into account the average pay actually falls by 2.9%., with prices not set to drop until the middle of next year.

Therefore, with the country’s current economic climate, overworking yourself this winter may prove to be ineffective in creating any financial stability.

No one would blame you that if this Christmas you went low budget and engaged in quiet quitting. During this cost-of-living crisis it’s not at all wrong if you, like George Bailey, ‘want to live again’.