We’ve found a new term for burnout: ‘quiet quitting’

The term may be new but 'quiet quitting' is a coping mechanism for the chronic workplace condition that is burnout—so let’s just call it what it is.

We’ve found new ways to label career burnout, but there’s no fooling me. As a burnout survivor, I know the symptoms when I see them—and this new work phenomenon of “quiet quitting” reeks of burnout. Let’s just call it what it is. 

“Quiet quitters” make up at least 50% of the U.S. workforce, according to Gallup. So what are they doing, exactly? They are doing the least. That is, doing what’s required of them to keep the job, sometimes less, and often zoning out. They are detached, exhausted, and quite frankly, bored. There’s a layer to this conversation that isn’t being talked about and that’s how quiet quitting is a sign of burnout. If you’re quiet quitting, you’re probably burned out and bowing out of the work game—or you’re well on your way. Here’s why that’s important: 

Burnout is recognized by the World Health Organization as a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. Per the WHO, it is characterized by three dimensions: 

  • Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
  • Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job 
  • Reduced professional efficacy. 

See the similarities between the two? One of the pioneers of burnout research, Dr. Christina Maslach says burnout is more about the workplace culture and less about the employee. I say quiet quitting is becoming how employees cope with an environment that breeds burnout, and burnout wins every time unless you actually quit or the environment changes. 

We should call out burnout when we see it because it can lead to depression, health issues, sleep problems, social anxieties, and more. Burnout erodes the soul and it’s time we—ahem, companies, managers, CEOs, etc.—start taking it seriously. 

To hear more about my personal experience with burnout watch this week’s episode of “The Reset with Coach Tish,” above.

Letisha Bereola thegrio.com

Letisha Bereola is a life coach who helps ambitious women overcome burnout and reach their career goals so they feel great at work and happy at home. She’s a former Emmy-nominated TV news anchor, Podcast host of AUDACITY and speaker. Learn more: www.coachtish.co.

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