What is Quiet Quitting?
Updated: Jan 13
Quiet quitting is a commitment to fulfilling one’s job roles and responsibilities, while not going above and beyond the call of duty (O’Brien, 2022). Quiet quitting involves working one’s set hours and declining additional projects and tasks outside of one’s usual duties. The days of staying late at work are over. Overworking is valued in society, especially by employers, yet even the Ontario government has instituted a right-to-disconnect law that demands that employers create a policy to enable workers to disconnect from job responsibilities including e-mails, phone calls, video conferences, and the performance of work outside of work hours (Lecker & Associates, 2022). Interestingly, this law only applies to workplaces with 25+ employees and is not applicable to federally regulated businesses (e.g., banking) (Lecker & Associates, 2022).
How did quiet quitting come into effect? In Canadian workplace culture, many employees experience a lack of wage increases, promotions, or even acknowledgment in return for workplace performance (Cullen, 2022; England, 2022). This is an issue with Canadian workplace culture on the whole.
Work-life balance is severely lacking in a high percentage of Canadians, leading to burnout, depression, and exhaustion (Cullen, 2022). This can be especially noticeable in front-line and essential workers. A 2021 study of 5,500 Canadian workers revealed that 35% experienced a high degree of burnout and 25% reported that their work substantially impacted their mental health (O’Brien, 2022).
What begins as workplace stress or anxiety can quickly snowball into a bigger problem. Quiet quitting is a buffer for this workplace stress and can help prevent employees from becoming so burnt out that they are unable to work. Quiet quitting aligns with the dominant discourse of professionalism in Canada that requires employees to “stay quiet” by being non-assertive in communicating boundaries. However, quiet quitting is a way of setting boundaries and engaging in self-respect within the workplace.
Pressure to perform and “be productive” in the workplace can lead to many negative mental health effects, caused by ignoring one’s own needs in a demanding and unhealthy workplace culture. According to CAMH (n.d.), signs of career burnout can include:
- Feelings of mental and physical exhaustion
- A lowered sense of confidence
- Physical pain
- Becoming more withdrawn from others
- Disrupted or altered sleep
- Mood changes
- Feelings of helplessness (feeling “stuck”)
- Feeling of overwhelm
- Loss of motivation and hope
- Depression and detachment
Quiet quitting can be an effective approach to incorporating self-care into one’s professional life.
There are several ways to engage in quiet quitting within your professional life:
- Take your designated lunch break.
- Work your designated hours and avoid staying late at the office (or online).
- Remove your professional e-mail account from your phone to avoid constantly checking e-mails.
- Avoid engaging in workplace communications on holidays, vacation days, sick days, and after-work hours (Cullen, 2022).
- Become more comfortable with saying “no” to unfair tasks, requests, and demands (e.g., staying late for meetings after work).
- Don’t feel obliged to answer work e-mails immediately.
- Set an alarm to finish work and be more aware of how much time you have spent working.
Quiet quitting may be one’s only option for workers to reclaim their life (England, 2022), in an economic environment that does not allow for actual quitting. If you want to discuss workplace stress, burnout, bullying or harassment, and/or prioritize self-care, therapy can be a safe space to do so.
About the Author:
Brittney is a qualifying psychotherapist currently working virtually and in-office at Your Story Counselling Services, a private practice clinic in Vaughan Ontario servicing individuals, couples, and families across the Greater Toronto Area. Brittney also brings her previous experience of working in education and also her own identities as a bicultural Millennial woman living with invisible disabilities to the therapy room in order to better understand and support you in your journey.
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CAMH. (n.d.). Career Burnout. CAMH. Retrieved December 26, 2022, from https://www.camh.ca/en/camh-news-and-stories/career-burnout
Cullen, K. (2022, August 23). Is "quiet quitting" actually good for your mental health? Psychology Today. Retrieved December 26, 2022, from
England, A. (2022, September 13). People are 'quiet quitting' and it could be great for mental health. Verywell Mind. Retrieved December 26, 2022, from https://www.verywellmind.com/how-quiet-quitting-can-affect-our-mental-health-6502057
Lecker & Associates. (2022, July 14). Right to disconnect: Lecker & Associates - Toronto Employment Lawyers. Lecker & Associates. Retrieved December 26, 2022, from https://leckerslaw.com/right-to-disconnect/#:~:text=On%20June%202%2C%202022%2C%20Ontario's,outside%20of%20standard%20office%20hours.
O'Brien, A. (2022, August 25). What is 'quiet quitting'? Toronto employment experts explain. Toronto. Retrieved December 26, 2022, from https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/what-is-quiet-quitting-toronto-employment-experts-explain-1.6042375