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Avoiding the Quiet Quitting Trap

Modern debates are framed through the lens of what is attractive on social media and with a narrative or catchphrase designed to register on algorithms and click measurement tools.

Modern debates are framed through the lens of what is attractive on social media and with a narrative or catchphrase designed to register on algorithms and click measurement tools. One such recent debate is that of “quiet quitting” – namely, to do the bare minimum in the workplace as an employee which some have coined as the equivalent to actually quitting the job, without quitting, hence the ‘quiet’ element.

Sitting in the corner, avoiding extra responsibilities and clocking off and on strictly in accordance with what is necessary. A recent Financial Times opinion piece journalist asserted that this is not a new phenomenon, and that quiet quitting is actually just someone doing their job (Sarah O’Connor “The term ‘quiet quitting’ is worse than nonsense” Financial Times Online: see: 

I agree that this isn’t new; ‘sandbagging’ is a similar concept, and humans are diverse in the amount of effort they are willing to apply to different tasks in accordance with the complexities of their minds.

In some respects, quiet quitting isn’t that far removed from the industrial age notion of the factory worker still applicable today, being paid precisely for their time, skill and expertise, as components in a measurable system. With the increase in economic importance of services in the global economy, how services are ‘created’, measured and delivered is not so straightforward; services are and should be approached differently. Doing the bare minimum and getting a maximum return can be considered smart, but when the outcome is sub-optimal, the societal impact of ‘quiet quitting’ is collectively negative if there is less productivity, an increase in the wealth gap with income trapped in the non-quitting portion of workers, and a resource gap where state agency workers will not ‘assist’ citizens in exchange for taxes, but will do the least possible.

Striking a balance between employer and employee has a massive impact on daily lives for a multitude of time horizons in each human’s life. A purely transactional approach carries issues because the market is not wholly fair or rational, hence regulation for health and safety and other necessary life protecting/enhancing policies is required – albeit implemented in varying degrees and forms from country to country.

Many people are strongly altruistic, providing their time, skill and expertise in critical services such as healthcare, charities and global environment and wildlife conservation organisations, often at rates valued by the market far below the rates awarded to mainstay CEOs trying to enhance shareholder returns. Some argue that CEOs generate wealth that goes into the healthcare and government systems indirectly through taxes and productivity, so should be awarded far more than the surgeons who specialise in life-saving heart surgery.

For lack of space and time to rationalize in detail, applying the crude ‘say it out loud to see if it sounds rational’ test, I remain unconvinced that modern pay reflects effort and calibrates rewards correctly; I think these outcomes are quirks of greed reflected in the economy. I have no immediate solutions to offer for this because it is above my pay-grade if I choose to quietly quit considering issues I don’t generally work on day-to-day.


However, as a leader of a services business, training and developing legal minds to be commercial, practical and international to optimize service levels to increase revenues to re-invest in a firm and its human capital, I find the notion of quiet quitters quite – well, offensive – and, importantly, dishonest.

Quiet quitters don’t advertise the truth in the interview process, or maybe not even during probation. They are terrorists of resource and effort because employers think they might want to receive such benefits as training, tech systems to assist with their work, and invitations to out-of-office team building events. Yet not only do they not want that, but they actively avoid and reject it, often causing demotivation and team disintegration in their path. It should also not be forgotten that business partners can also ‘quit on each other’, forcing one partner to work more than the other in a business marriage of convenience based on the computation that it remains easier to remain together with an underperformer versus the costs and emotional distress of dissolving a partnership.

In our lives and business we often spot the non-quiet quitters and praise them, which is a clue to the importance of not quitting quietly or accepting those that have. The waiting staff in a restaurant who inject emotional intelligence into the buy-food-and-eat-it transaction; the hotel staff who converse sincerely and warmly with weary travellers and present an extra chocolate or kids colouring book in times of need; and the legal team and partners who will spend additional energy thinking about your position, not just legally, but personally, to empathise with how you must feel in a given situation, and taking into account those feelings within the best-interests principles that competent lawyers should adhere to.

Do you want a lawyer that really cares about other people and the difficulty of their situations, or a lawyer that lets the door close and then smirks and laughs with their colleagues about how you have been the unwitting victim of a fraud? Or how you should have seen your divorce ‘coming’ based on your unwise choices and actions? Or how you deserve to be scammed out of your property investment because ‘you can’t own land anyway’? Quiet quitters are in the same bracket as cynical exploiters and in my world, which I manage when my eyes are open and closed, they are not welcome.

Quiet quitting is dangerous. It reduces our interactions to transactions only, globally lowers the bar of delivery and quality. We should have evolved our principles and policies well beyond that, by now. Who actually complains when a service provider ‘over delivers’? Not most quiet quitters, I would hazard a bet.

By Desmond Hughes, Senior Partner of Hughes Krupica.
Hughes Krupica is a law firm which specialises in Real Estate; Construction; Hospitality; Corporate; Commercial; Tech; Dispute Resolution; and Litigation, operating from Phuket, servicing clients in relation to their business activities in Thailand and in other regions of Asia.

 Contact info:

Hughes Krupica Consulting

Hughes Krupica Consulting Co. Ltd
23/123-5 Moo 2 Kohkaew Plaza
The Phuket Boat Lagoon
T. Kohkaew Amphoe Muang
Phuket 83000 Thailand
Tel: (0) 76 608 468

Hughes Krupica Consulting (Bangkok) Co. Ltd
29/41 Soi Ladprao 22
Ladprao Road
Chankasem, Chatuchak
Bangkok 10900 Thailand
Tel: (0) 20 771 518

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