The phenomenon of ‘quiet quitting’

This happened just a couple of years ago. A startling fallout of the Covid19 pandemic in the corporate world was the mass retrenchment of staff in many companies across multiple affected sectors.

The phenomenon of ‘quiet quitting’

Representation image

This happened just a couple of years ago. A startling fallout of the Covid19 pandemic in the corporate world was the mass retrenchment of staff in many companies across multiple affected sectors. Unable to cope with the severity of the prevailing situation then and impacted by the colossal shock, companies preferred reducing manpower as a quick-fix solution while grappling with their dwindling coffers. Recently, after two consecutive quarters of their economies showing degrowth, the UK and Japan are officially braving recession.

Germany is on the brink. Civil societies in many countries are under tremendous stress and emotional cracks are all too apparent. An outlier is India, shining brightly in the prevailing gloom. Rating agency Moody’s recently upped India’s FY24 GDP growth projection to 8 per cent against the earlier 6.6 per cent buttressing the belief that the next few decades will belong to us. Though we haven’t seen the Western kind of layoffs – sometimes ruthlessly done over a video call – many have reconciled that ‘hiring and firing’ will be more of a norm here as well despite the growth that we are witnessing.

Alongside, a term that has gained currency of late is ‘Quiet Quitting’. Broadly it can be defined as a phenomenon observed in many organisations where some employees put in barely the required efforts to keep their job. They hardly display any enthusiasm to travel the ‘extra mile’ while performing their tasks, thereby making no secret of their job dissatisfaction. We should not make the mistake of underestimating them as they constitute quite a sizeable mass. In fact, Gallup’s 2023 “State of the Global Workplace” report states that 59 per cent of the global workforce consists of quiet quitters. To be fair to them, these quiet quitters shun dramatic exits but prefer subtly fading away caused by lack of motivation.


A silent retreat from the forefront and slipping away unnoticed without any fanfare, triggered by disillusionment is something that they prefer. It would be wrong to assume their quitting quietly as surrender but it is more of a conscious choice to disengage towards pursuits better aligned and hopefully more pleasant. On the other hand, we also know companies across domains thrive on their ‘star’ employees. Many even maintain some kind of unofficial list of stars to hold by keeping a close tab on them.

These ‘stars’ usually exhibit diametrically opposite behaviour vis-à-vis the ‘quiet quitters’ and hence are fiercely protected from getting poached by rivals. Quiet quitting like any other decision of life comes with its own set of pros and cons. Let’s study a few of them: Pros:

*Non-confrontationist: By choosing to quit quietly, individuals can alleviate stress associated with confrontations leading to a smoother transition instead of dragging the exit process.

* Maintain healthy relations: Quietly moving on from an organization allows minimal disruption to professional relationships and equations within the industry.

* Friendly image: If continuing in an organization becomes difficult, quitting honourably without spats in a dignified manner usually helps retain the image that one may have built assiduously.

* Expensive fracas: Before drawing out the dagger, possible repercussions including the cost factor involved should be considered. Considering this many prefer to exit quietly with grace from a toxic environment without much fuss. Cons:

*Conjectures: There could be some potential lack of closures when an individual decides to leave quietly. Without proper reasons shared publicly, there could be lingering questions or dubious gossip left over.

* Valuable feedback opportunity gets sacrificed: A quietly exiting employee may not offer constructive suggestions for the organization to rectify its flaws.

*Burning bridges: Departing employee by not offering reasons runs the risk of closing the door forever. Often this leaves doubts in the minds of colleagues making them draw inaccurate conclusions. *Ill-advised: If the decision to quit was fuelled by external factors, it would be judicious to deeply ruminate over them before arriving at a conclusion. Often many fail to decipher wrong pieces of advice. In the end, it can be said that in the silent trail, after quitting, often lies the beginning of a new chapter to reinvent oneself. A possible fresh space one can create by relinquishing the stale old. (The writer is a business executive with more than two decades of corporate experience spanning the globe. The views expressed are personal.)