“Quiet Quitting,” the concept of doing enough work at your job to not get fired but not overworking, is a really clever phrase that I wish I had thought of. It’s not actually quitting, although I suppose it could lead to that over time.

While you might immediately think that someone doing this is “phoning it in” and not contributing enough, maybe they are working smarter, prioritizing, and trying to create some kind of work-life balance.

I started thinking about sustainable working when I developed my TEDx talk, “Sustaining Personal Energy to Fuel Professional Success” in 2015. I talked about how professionals were overworking in corporate and entrepreneurial situations. I told a story about a friend who had a stroke due to work-related stress at 34, and a dear friend who overworked for more than a year without a real break. I said I was certain they would end up having a heart attack or a cancer diagnosis. It was the second one, and they are luckily now in remission.

Quiet quitting and what it is and isn’t has been rattling around in my head. In “What’s Happening at Work, Part 2 of 2” of her Dare to Lead podcast, Brené Brown talked with Adam Grant and Simon Sinek about quiet quitting. They took a deep dive into the topic and Sinek pointed out that professionals might be judged differently for the same behavior, depending on their level. A junior employee might be described as slacking, while an executive might be “finding balance” and applauded for that.

Boom! I didn’t see that coming.

In a culture that rewards overworking and giving it your all, we need to realize that people are willing to pitch in for a tight project deadline, but there is a problem with the business if this is an everyday occurrence. I am working with a client now who put in 70-hour weeks for months at a time. Even though they are young and a hard worker, that was not sustainable and they quit.

That kind of systemic overworking is what I think quiet quitting might help erode, and that would be a good thing. Salaried professionals don’t get paid more when they work more hours. They don’t get overtime. And even if they did, it’s impossible to get enough rest and downtime when you are working crazy hours.

It is my sincere hope that we will stop equating busyness with self-worth and value in the workplace. So while I don’t love the term quiet quitting, I do think it has sparked some important conversations, and over time, may lead to better work environments where people can do good work AND have a personal life. This would be better for everyone.

Photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash