Quiet quitting is a term, and concept garnering a lot of attention on social media. The distinctive features of “quiet quitting,” a term coined to describe how people approach their jobs and professional lives differently to manage burnout, include doing the bare minimum, leaving work at 5 p.m. sharp, only doing required daily tasks and not working overtime. “Quiet quitting” is a term coined to describe how people approach their jobs and professional lives differently to manage burnout. The phrase — which isn’t actually intended to lead to a resignation — exploded on social media when a TikTok video went viral. Since then, the term has caught on, with recent articles in The Wall Street Journal, TIME, USA TODAY and The New York Times among many others.
While the words “quiet quitting” have become controversial for some who say it “engenders laziness”, or it’s for those “lacking integrity”, others say that the approach “frees up time to spend with family and friends” or “to take care of oneself”. Others have described it as “a renewed commitment to live beyond the workplace” or “quitting hustle culture”.
In a recent episode of the Holistic Wealth podcast, I discussed the topic of Quiet Quitting and discussed strategies to address it. I also discussed various strategies from my new book: Holistic Wealth Expanded and Updated: 36 Life Lessons To Help You Recover From Disruption, Find Your Life Purpose and Achieve Financial Freedom.
Economic, Cultural and Social Headwinds
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a major economic movement, the Great Resignation wave, which saw people leaving their jobs or switching professions in droves, as they re-evaluated their relationship to work during a life-changing health crisis. We also experienced a mental health crisis and a racial reckoning with the George Floyd killing and protests. Both Quiet Quitting and The Great Resignation indicate a marked cultural, social and economic shift, where workers seek greater freedom and flexibility as generations of younger workers have felt displaced. In an article in the Atlantic by Rich Cohen entitled “The Ballad of Downward Mobility”, the writer states “I didn’t quit on the American dream; it quit on me – and my generation. Now we need a different idea of the good life”.
Increased economic inequality, the rising cost of living and reduced job security and stagnant wages have also placed significant stress on an already stressed workforce. According to a recent Op-Ed in the Harvard Business Review entitled Your Best Employees Are Burning Out: “Over the past four decades, organizations ranging from Fortune 500 companies to federal, state, and local governments have slashed benefits, retirements, job security, and labour protections. These actions have saved companies trillions of dollars and have increased value for shareholders. Yet at what price?”
The Deathly Cost of Burnout
On a personal level, I fully understand the perils and deathly cost of burnout and of rigid workplace structures. In the new Holistic Wealth Expanded and Updated book, I wrote about it:
“My Husband was at work the day he died. He stayed there all day until 5:00 pm. During that time, the tumour bled and bled. According to the doctors, he might have felt a tightness in his abdomen caused from the bleeding, but he wouldn’t have felt any serious pain, because it would have been a slow drip of blood at first – instead of an avalanche. This would have been a good time for him to go to the doctor- or even the emergency room – to check out the discomfort. Instead, he waited until evening, when the avalanche started. During the day, I spoke to him, and he had a lineup of colleagues outside his office, wanting him to check their work. The lining up of colleagues outside his office happened repeatedly over several weeks and months. He mentioned to me that he felt stressed and exhausted”. – Holistic Wealth Expanded and Updated: 36 Life Lessons To Help You Recover From Disruption, Find Your Life Purpose and Achieve Financial Freedom by Keisha Blair.
After my husband’s death, I advocated for healthier workplaces. I founded the Institute on Holistic Wealth after several readers requested to go deeper into the material so they could help others in their communities. I’ve now written three books on Holistic Wealth – and not defining success solely by the metrics of money and status – that only seems to perpetuate burnout and death. In an article entitled “Productivity Paradox: Presence vs. Productivity”, I noted that: in our quest for higher productivity and self-efficacy, we have pursued happiness relentlessly — only to bypass happiness with untold amounts of stress and busyness. I’ve learned that the pursuit of busyness has become our greatest source of unhappiness. Workers are yearning to rediscover meaning and purpose in their jobs and at the workplace, and also have time to thrive and grow, give back to their communities and have adequate time to spend with their families.
Holistically Wealthy Workplaces
We can be engaged at work without compromising our health and happiness. In order to achieve this, we need holistically wealthy workplaces and leaders. In a previous article for the New York Observer, in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic entitled “Millenials Are the Holistic Wealth Generation – Here’s Why”, I coined the term Holistic Wealth Generation and stated that Millennials and Gen Z are holistically wealthy thinkers. They value harmony and balance, are values-driven, and advocate for social justice causes they believe in. The six principles of Holistic Wealth, that I outlined in my book are so relevant to creating and designing holistically wealthy workplaces:
- The Law of Purpose (Service to Humanity)
- Law of Reciprocity
- The Law of Abundance
- The Law of Continuous Learning
- The Law of Harmony and Balance
- The Law of Spiritual Self-Renewal
The Institute on Holistic Wealth
The Institute on Holistic Wealth was also created to advance leadership in workplaces and beyond and help organizations foster and design holistically wealthy workplaces. In Holistic Wealth Expanded and Updated, I developed and outlined the Holistic Wealth Development Index, which can be used by organizations and workplaces, as well as cities/countries with a set of indicators to assess their actions and decisions. Applying a holistic wealth lens to our decision-making is critical going forward. Ideally, every organization should have trained Certified Holistic WealthTM Consultants embedded into teams and employee resource groups. Both leaders and employees can be trained to become certified. In addition, every organization would benefit from having Holistic Wealth Project Groups, which could be comprised of employees in each region who are energized and motivated to help each other achieve holistic wealth both at work and in their personal lives in order to drive organizational purpose, resilience, innovation, wellness and success. Ensuring smooth transitions for employees who have undergone significant life transitions such as divorce or the death of a spouse or family member, is also important. The Institute on Holistic Wealth also offers a Trauma of Money Certification program and a Holistic Healing Certification program.
A Once-In-A Generation Opportunity
We are at an inflection point, and we have a once-in-lifetime opportunity to create positive, lasting change that can benefit future generations to come, and redefine how we measure wealth and success and our concept of work/life balance. Now is the time to design holistically wealthy workplaces that can empower millions of employees globally, and create resilient organizations and workers for the future. The Institute on Holistic Wealth can also provide training and toolkits for leaders.