Quiet Quitting

The Ethics of Quiet Quitting

Quiet quitting is a trend that started during the great resignation in 2022. It’s where employees of their respective companies stop going above and beyond for the company and focus on their well-being by doing exactly what’s in their job descriptions. It’s important to note that employee’s are doing no more and no less, they are focusing on doing what the job entails.

However, is it ethical for employees to partake in the movement? Business and ethics go hand in hand. It’s not only mandated by society for a company to operate ethically, but its also law. A business that operates unethically can incur heavy fines and lawsuits, which can diminish the brand and sabotage the structures of its moral principles, causing distrust with the consumer.

However, in 2022, companies and society have undergone horrific turmoil. Mass employee exodus known as the great resignation, inflation running rampant, layoffs are occurring, and whats left? Tired and overburdened employees who stayed with their respective companies during these absurd times. It seems as though it’s a vicious cycle and no one is sparred.

The employees who have stayed, for better or worse, have started a silent rebellion that involves a separation between work and home known as boundaries. With companies going through the current economic conditions, is it ethical for employees to quiet quit in times such as these? Well, we are going to find out.

The Employer and Employee Dynamic

Quiet Quitting dynamic

The relationship between the employee and the employer is purely financial. For instance, the employer is a business that solely exists to make money. If the company doesn’t make money, it goes insolvent.

The employee is there to help the business make money in exchange for an agreed amount of compensation, known as a salary.However, suppose the employee or the employer dynamic isn’t a good fit for either party. In that case, that is when separations can and often do occur.

Common Signs that the company will lay off workers:

  • Top executives are leaving
  • The company isn’t as profitable
  • The company isn’t investing in their employees
  • Benefits are being cut
  • No communication from the manager

Signs an employee is leaving the company:

  • Taking more paid time off
  • Less production at work
  • Negative attitude
  • Less focused on the company mission
  • More active on LinkedIn

A sign is never definitive and always subjective to each individual and their role within a company. But looking at the writing on the wall is one of the best indicators to keep alert. Employee’s quitting and companies laying people off is an internal defense mechanism that is attributed to the one instinctual trait embedded in all of us, survival.

Instincts to Survive

About 2 million years ago, humans, in their most primitive stages, associated themselves with the strongest tribes they could find. Strong tribes benefitted collectively from strong members, the tribe benefitted the individual, and the individual benefitted from the tribe; that was the agreement, nothing more, nothing less.

Two million years later, the professional business model we know today in the corporate world took after our ancestors’ survivability model. Companies want the best and the brightest to work for them. Employee’s want to work for the best and most stable company. It doesn’t matter how much time has passed from our primitive state. One thing that we can all be sure of is that human nature does not change.

Humans and companies are here to survive, and they will do what it takes to operate within the legal parameters of society. Sometimes that means an employee either quitting to go to a better, more lucrative opportunity or a company severing ties with an employee to prosper. Like we have done for millions of years.

What is Quiet Quitting?

Going into the storm

Quiet quitting is a trend where people are setting rigid boundaries within their employer—not doing more work than necessary. Or, in more extreme cases doing the bare minimum. This is usually done for many reasons.

Employees are burned out, they are tired of taking on more than they can handle. Now people are taking care of themselves mentally and physically by putting their needs first instead of the companies. As we all know, the stresses that come with a job can be highly taxing.

However, employees and employers are feeling pressure during this trend. It can exhibit both positive and negative effects on the economy. On the one hand, it can lead to higher turnover rates and more job openings. On the other hand, it can also lead to decreased productivity and loyalty among employees.

The pros of quiet quitting

  • More people are setting boundaries with their professional and personal life
  • Force employers to reevaluate their business structure and operation
  • Drive better, faster, and more hiring practices

The cons of quiet quitting

  • Will constrain employers to adapt, possibly automating its process or hiring contractors
  • May cause employers to operate in desperation and not solve anything
  • It hurts smaller businesses that may go insolvent

Quiet quitting is a controversial topic, and it remains to be seen whether it will positively or negatively impact the economy in the long run. However, every individual must do what is best for themselves. It may be a selfish way of thinking. Still, that is how humans have operated for millions of years, and that is how we have thrived on seeing new millenniums.

Is Quiet Quitting Ethical?

Ethics of quiet quitting

Considering that the employee and the employer relationship is purely financial, quiet quitting consists of employees doing only what they are paid to do. So yes, quiet quitting is ethical; the employee and employer have already negotiated and agreed to salary and job duties. However, for the employees who have decided to stay, that’s a different story. The employees doing more than they are obligated are exposing themselves to unseen risks.

For instance, depending on the environment and your occupation, overburdening yourself can cause not only mental and physical health risks but the inadequate output of your work. That can not only tarnish your brand with your employer, but it can cause turbulent animosity among your co-workers at the work place. Setting healthy and reasonable boundaries for you to operate reasonably allows you to function at your standards that you have worked so hard to maintaine.

The businesses overburdening their employees with tasks and duties out of their job description are operating unethically. It may be a case of underemployment. But companies with employees willing to drive the mission through rocky economic times should be compensated correctly.

If it’s a case that employees are leaving, the company must investigate why: 

  • Is it an archaic business model?
  • Is it their adverse customer base?
  • Is it their antiquated management system?
  • Is it the operation itself?

Or is it all of the above? Because the employees who stay should be rewarded with an improvement in whatever the company lacks. 


People leave companies all the time, but now they are leaving jobs at an alarming rate, and the employees who stay at these companies are suffering immensely. It has now gotten to the point that the employees who have survived the economic turmoil are doing something many employers never saw, setting boundaries.

Setting boundaries for many reasons is essential, but not mixing personal and corporate life has to be the most important. We all have passions and ambitions that we want to pursue, but we often forget that working is not living and setting time to recharge is essential to quality of life.

Very few of us are privileged enough to enjoy what we do, many people don’t like work, and that’s why companies must pay us. Still, when that environment starts to cross over into our free time, we must do everything we can to nip it in the bud.

Book Recommendation

Trust and Inspire: How Truly Great Leaders Unleash Greatness in Others

By Stephen M. R. Covet

Trust and Inspire: How Truly Great Leaders Unleash Greatness in Others is a book about how great leaders inspire greatness in others. The book discusses the concept of trust, and how it is essential for leaders to build trust with their team members in order to create a successful and thriving business.

Trust is the foundation upon which all great businesses are built, and the author Covey shows readers how they can use trust to unleash the greatness that lies within each and every one of us. Trust and Inspire is an essential read for anyone who wants to learn more about leadership, business, and ethics.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why are People Quiet Quitting?

A: There can be many reasons why someone would partake in the quit quitting trend. The main reasons are because employee’s are tired of toxic work environment’s, lackluster management, and going above and beyond their job duties without the recognition and compensation.

Q: What Does a Quiet Quitter Mean?

A: A quiet quitter isn’t someone who quietly quits their job and clocks out for the last time. Instead, they do exactly what they signed up for, and stops overworking for the company and start focusing on themselves.

Q: Is Quiet Quitting Good?

A: Quiet quitting can be seen as a positive force for employee’s to set boundaries with their employer’s and make employer’s realize that if they want more from their employee’s they will have to adequately compensate them or hire more employee’s.

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