Doing your job = quitting?!

A square piece of brown paper with the words I QUIT!Let’s start here: I’m a card-carrying “people pleaser in recovery.” It’s attributable to plenty of factors, from childhood experiences through various work situations and onward in personal relationships. I won’t bore you with the details, but I suspect at least some of you can relate. And professionally, it led to a lot of extra time at work.

Moving on: I recently wrote an article on burnout for my LinkedIn newsletter, The Leadership Leap, which you can read here.

And then a post on LinkedIn about this new Thing called “quiet quitting.”

Which isn’t quitting! and I wish we’d just step away from that edge.

What it is, is boundaries.

It’s doing your job, within the framework of appropriate working time.

It’s not quitting.

Nor is it, as a recent Washington Post article claimed, equivalent to employee disengagement.

Sure, it might be. But it might more accurately be that, given the isolation and reset of pandemic lockdown and work-from-home, people had a chance to stop and think about what they really want their lives to look like. And in doing so, they concluded that, y’know what, this whole hustle culture, above-and-beyond effort thing is … not what they wanted, not good for them or their families, and, ultimately, not so great for the companies they work for, either.

Why do I say it’s not great for companies? Well, I remember above-and-beyond effort, endless overtime, and the reality was … most of what I did in those long, late evenings had to be taken out and re-worked in the morning, when I was actually awake and thinking clearly.

People are more creative, thoughtful, focused, productive, and, yes, engaged, when they’re rested, clear-headed, and have had time away from work to do the other things in their lives that matter to them.

Doing your job, within the boundaries of appropriate work time, is not quitting, quiet or otherwise. It’s … doing your job.

By the way – why do I call it “appropriate” work time? Because work time, the hours we’re working, has changed with work-from-home and hybrid work. When everyone commuted to an office, it made perfect sense that we’d all be there, working consistently from arrival to departure.

And people now expect flexibility, the flexibility that comes with working from home, the flexibility that allows for child care, appointments for various forms of self care (doctor’s appointments being only one type), and so on.

(Plus, we really, really need to start measuring outcomes, not hours.)

In any event, this isn’t quitting. It’s boundaries, and it’s burnout-prevention.

While many companies and leaders are acknowledging that burnout is a problem, and that mental health is important, not enough of them are taking action to do something about it.

So employees are setting their own boundaries and caring for their own wellbeing by … doing their jobs, within reasonable and appropriate working time.

Want more ideas about boundaries, creating a humane workplace, and management? The Community of Practice, Learning, and Experience for managers. helps said managers make the leap from individual team member – to manager and leader.  Check it out.