“Quiet Quitting” is a newly coined term or a phrase that has drawn the world’s attention in the year 2022. The terminology was first used in “Tik Tok” and “Youtube” by Bryan Creely. However, as per Wikipedia, the term was first used in 2009 by economist Mark Boldger. Whosoever used it first may be controversial, but the term is widely discussed in electronic media today. My initial impression after reading this phrase was that it meant “quietly going to the boss and telling him that you are resigning from the job.” To my surprise, I was completely off the target. “Quiet quitting” meant something very different. To understand this new terminology, let us start from the basics.
WHAT IS “QUIET QUITTING?”
Collins English Dictionary (Harper Collins publisher) has given two definitions:
- The practice of doing no more work than one is contractually obliged to do, especially in order to spend more time on personal activities.
- The practice of doing little or no work while being present at one’s place of employment.
There are multiple definitions of “Quiet quitting,” and individual perceptions vary. However, they have one thing in common; here, one doesn’t quit the job and does the job as per the rule book.
IS “QUIET QUITTING” THE SAME AS “WORK TO RULES?”
There may be some similarity between the “Quiet quitting” and “work to rules” concepts. However, “work to rules” is a collective and aggressive way to protest against the management. The trade unions and governmental staff used it to pressurize the management to accept their demands. “Quiet quitting” is both an individualistic and a peaceful phenomenon.
IS “QUIET QUITTING REAL” OR A HYPE?
“Quiet quitting” is a new terminology to define a trait or, we could say, an acquired trait by a worker or a professional. There are different opinions about whether it is a new or an old trait. I have been in the medical field for 4 decades, and this particular trait was very much there in some of my colleagues and subordinates, even at the beginning of my career. The only difference could be the number. The number was minimal then and now increased to the extent that it has acquired new terminology. We may say that it is like “old wine in a new bottle.”
“QUIET QUITTING” IN BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY
Surveys have reported a higher number of “Quiet Quitters” in the current year. Harter in 2022 gallop pole found “Quiet Quitters” account for more than 50% of the workforce in the United States. Overall, 32% of workers were engaged, 18% were actively nonengaged, and the remaining did the minimum required work without being vocal about it. Most of these employees, 18%, +50%, were already looking for a new job. Only some people agree with this point of view. Thomson, writing for “The Atlantic,” pointed out that the numbers for 2022 are not very different from that of the year 2000. The author felt that the term “quiet quitters” was partly popularized by “burnt out” and bored workers. If we talk to a management guru or an experienced manager, they would admit that in any organization, only 20% of workers really work; and the rest, 80% may be called passengers or “Quiet Quitters.”
“QUIET QUITTING” AMONG THE MEDICAL FRATERNITY
The quiet quitters are emotionally detached from the job and can profoundly affect health care. The patients need empathy, polite communication, hope, and the best treatment modality. In other words, the patients need the total involvement and dedication of the healthcare workers for sound healing. Staff shortage, increasing workload, limited resources, and inadequate financial compensation profoundly affect the healthcare workers’ mental status. Many feel that their working conditions are unsatisfactory, but they could not leave the job because they have to support their family. As many as 33% of practitioners reported feeling hopeless in their profession. Lack of motivation and engagement among doctors to treat the patients with total involvement has a ripple effect on subordinate staff. Their junior colleagues, resident doctors, nurses, and paramedical staff also lack engagement with the patient. That, in turn, leads to an error in treatment or patient dissatisfaction.
FACTORS RESPONSIBLE FOR “QUIET QUITTING” AMONG MEDICAL STAFF
- a. Many medical professionals feel less work means fewer complications and less stress. In addition, the chances of medico-legal issues (malpractice suits) are also less. This is especially true for surgeons and doctors getting fixed pay irrespective of workload.
- b. Balancing between family commitments and work is especially true for women doctors and nurses. Though the male partners have started sharing the household work, there is no doubt the lady of the house has to bear the brunt. In addition, pregnancy and the responsibility of raising the kids always lies with the female partner. Many women healthcare workers sacrifice or compromise their professional careers for the sake of the family.
- c. Pursuing a hobby—at the beginning of a career, most doctors forget about pursuing a hobby. As time passes, they get bored with the profession and pick up hobbies like golf, tennis, swimming, jogging, chess, cards, gossiping, etc. Slowly the passion for medical practice is replaced by the love for a particular hobby. We do see these types of individuals in our day-to-day life.
- d. Disenchantment with the profession—The negative response from patients is one of the reasons; physicians lose interest in the profession and merely do the minimum work required for sustenance. Some patients feel that doctors have vested interest in asking for investigations, admission to the hospital, or prescribing certain drugs. This suspicion erodes the confidence of the surgeon/physicians, and in the bargain, they lose empathy for the patients.
- e. Violence against doctors[4,5] has been increasing worldwide and could be one of the measure factors responsible for “Quiet Quitting” among medical professionals. Getting beaten up by the patient’s relatives or political activists is the worst kind of humiliation a medical professional could face. Many times, it leads to emotional detachment from patients.
In any organization, there are three sets of employees. The first set is of the employees who have been engaged in their work, irrespective of service conditions. The second set of employees are those who are totally disengaged from their work, which means they do no work at all and could be fired anytime. The third set of employees are those who are “Quiet Quitters” and need more motivation to work beyond laid down norms. It is the third group that can be corrected. Financial benefits, training in new technology, encouragement by the management, and the prospect of promotion to a higher post are some of the strategies that may work. In addition, the protection of medical professionals against violence is also a must. If the above methods fail, the manager should ask themselves, “Is there anything wrong with their management style?
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1. Harter J“Is Quiet Quitting Real.”Gallup.com. September 06 22. Available from https://www.gallup.com >workplace > quiet quitting [Last accessed on 2 Jan 2023]
2. Thompson DQuiet Quitting Is a Fake Trend: What people are now calling “quiet quitting” was, in previous decades, simply known as “having a job.”. Available from https://www.theatlantic.com/category/work-progress/?page=2 [Last accessed on 2 Jan 2023]
3. Morrison-Beedy D. Editorial: Are we addressing “Quiet Quitting” in faculty, staff, and students in academic settings? Build Healthy Acad Commun J 2022;6:8
4. Ghosh K. Violence against doctors: A wake-up call. Indian J Med Res 2018;148:130-3
5. Kumar S. Doctors in 2020: Battling on many fronts beside COVID-19. MGM J Med Sci 2019;6:155-6