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Over the past few months, “quiet quitting” has become a huge trend. This bonus episode of Faithful on the Clock explains why Christian professionals shouldn’t use this strategy. It provides both employees and employers guidance on what their responsibilities are to each other.
[03:53] - How the movie scene exemplifies a common business problem–two sets of standards (written and social) where people are unofficially expected to go above and beyond
[04:30] - Quiet quitting is a symptom, a passive-agressive protest about being pushed to unreasonable limits within toxic systems.
[05:10] - Scriptures likely do not support passive-aggressive conflict resolution. There is scriptural support for the concept of workers speaking up.
[06:07] - Stories from the Bible, such as the story of the talents, suggest that workers should apply what they are given, rather than doing the minimum, so their employers come out ahead.
[08:42] - The relationship between workers and employers is reciprocal. Workers should be able to protest what isn’t healthy or what doesn’t work, while employers should be able to use their authority to push workers to their best.
[09:46] - Look beyond engagement to expectations. Are they appropriate?
[10:40] - Quiet quitting doesn’t help anyone involved.
Quiet quitting is doing the bare minimum at a job on purpose, with or without the conscious intent of being let go.
Quiet quitting is controversial based on whether employees should have to go above and beyond their job descriptions.
Experts have asserted that quiet quitting is just disengagement by a different name.
I don’t think disengagement is the whole story behind quiet quitting. It’s likely connected to the tendency of employers to lay out one set of formal, written expectations formally but then judge on informal, social expectations. The character Joanna from Office Space is an example of how these dual expectations can create burnout and conflict.
If quiet quitting connects to dual expectations and burnout, solving it requires addressing workloads and goals, not just purpose or connection.
There is scriptural support for workers being able to speak out when something isn’t right. There is also scriptural support for the idea that workers should improve what they are given and not waste it. Overall, scriptures suggest a relationship of mutual respect where workers honor leaders’ authority and employers treat workers with compassion.
To prevent or solve quiet quitting in your company, look beyond engagement. Review expectations and make sure workloads are appropriate.
What’s coming up next:
Should you always be a warrior? The fearless mindset so common in the corporate world says yes. Episode 56 of Faithful on the Clock pushes back against that mindset and explains where real fearlessness originates.
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Hello, and welcome to Faithful on the Clock, everybody. This is the podcast meant to get your faith and work aligned. As always, I’m your host for the next 10 minutes or so, Wanda Thibodeaux, and in today’s bonus episode of the show, we’re talking about quiet quitting. It’s been a big trend over the past couple of months, so let’s get in on the debate with a Christian take. I hope you’re ready, ‘cause here it comes!
OK, listeners. So quiet quitting has been all over my social media feeds for a while now. And you know, I’m seeing articles and posts everywhere on it. And so just to clarify what we’re talking about, quiet quitting is where you do the absolute bare minimum at whatever job you have. And we call it quiet quitting because when people don’t put in a lot of effort at a job, a lot of the time they’ll get let go for it, whether that was the conscious intention or not.
Now, before I get too much into the Christian aspect of this, I just wanna explain why there’s such a debate about this, if it’s not already clear to you. But the basic idea if you’re someone who quiet quits is that, in a way, employers put a job description out there, and that there shouldn’t be an expectation to really deviate from that too much. But then on the employer’s side, the rationale is that you don’t want someone on the team who is satisfied with doing the bare minimum. You want somebody who is going to give a little extra so that the business can move forward that much more. So those are the two basic sides to the argument.
With that said, there are some experts, and there was even an article in Fortune on this, but there are some experts who’ll say, well, quiet quitting, this is really nothing new. It’s just a new name for a problem we’ve had for decades, which is disengagement. And to a degree, that’s probably true. I mean, you’re not going to put a lot into a job if you don’t see much of a purpose in it. And this view of quiet quitting is important to recognize, because if you see it as disengagement, then the responsibility of the employer is to make that purpose clearer. You know, it’s to help the worker connect with the work better.
But there’s something about our work environment right now that really makes me feel like that’s not all there is to this. I mean, we know that hustle culture has become toxic. We know that, because of that, through the entire pandemic, people really have been reevaluating how they work. They’ve been rethinking their lives and their goals, and there are just a ton of workers who have quit because of toxic work environments, because they’re just so overworked. And a lot of people have had the opportunity to see what it is like to have a little more freedom, or they’ve seen that systems people used to say were just like concrete, you know, those have crumbled.
So I want you to think for a moment of the movie Office Space. Now, for those of you who have not seen this film, it’s a cult classic here in the U.S. And it essentially parodies all of the things that are just ridiculous about the traditional office. But there’s one character, a waitress named Joanna, who’s played by Jennifer Aniston. And Joanna’s boss requires everyone at the restaurant to wear suspenders and decorate those suspenders with fun pins and buttons and stuff, which he refers to as, quote, “pieces of flair”. And the issue is, he sets the minimum pieces of flair at 15, OK? And Joanna, she’s wearing 15 pieces. But then her boss keeps giving her grief about not having enough, and finally Joanna, she just blows up at her boss and asks him flat out why he doesn’t just set the minimum higher if that’s what he wants. And so you know, she tells him off and she quits in this big dramatic fashion.
But I point that scene out because it really shows what I think is a huge contributing factor to this quiet quitting phenomenon. Because in that scene, what you’ve got going on is a boss who is establishing one policy or standard, which you can associate with a job description, and then establishing a second kind of unspoken policy or standard. So really, it’s giving workers two targets, which is really confusing, because if you’ve got the written policy saying one thing but the boss or social policy saying another, well, then which path do you take as a worker to get it right?
So my take on quiet quitting is that it’s not just disengagement. It’s also about workers kind of passively-aggressively protesting having bosses or companies push them to do more and not being clear, which is really a protest on a much broader, systemic level. It’s about the way the entire culture is around work, not necessarily just the culture within a specific company. And if you take that view, then suddenly things are very different, because the discussion isn’t about communicating purpose or connecting people, it’s about the clarity of leadership expectations and what an appropriate workload is.
So now let’s get into the Christian elements of this a little bit. I really do not think there’s anything in the Bible that really supports taking a passive-aggressive approach to negotiating or resolving conflict, although I’m happy to listen to verses if people wanna share. I’m the first to admit I’m always learning. But you can find Matthew 18, which is very clear in saying that if your brother has sinned against you, you go and show him in private where the fault is. And then there are verses that talk about speaking up like Proverbs 31:8-9, which says, “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.” So the gist there is that, whether it’s you or someone else, you don’t just sit around and let abuse keep happening. So I think there is some scriptural support for the idea that workers can speak up or protest, although again, like I said, I don’t necessarily think quiet quitting is the best way to do that.
Now, of course, that leads into the employer side of things. You’ve got the story of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30. And in that story, a master gives one servant 5 talents, another servant two talents, and then a third servant just one talent. And the first two servants, they go out and they go out and do some trading and investing so that, when the master comes back, he’s got more money than when he left. But the third servant, he’s scared the master is gonna be mad, so he just buries his talent and doesn’t do anything with it. And the gist of that parable is that when God gives you something, whether that’s money or a skill or whatever, you don’t just sit on it. You’re supposed to apply whatever He’s given to you. And in the work context, you can parallel that with the expectation that bosses don’t just want you to maintain the status quo. They wanna come out with more than when they started. BUT, in return for that, and in return for servants being respectful, we have Colossians 4:1, which says, “Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you have a Master in Heaven.” We’ve got Ephesians 6:9 which is similar and which tells masters to stop threatening. There’s also Titus 2:7-8 which says, “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity and sound speech that cannot be condemned.” And finally, you can go back to Exodus and read about Moses leading the Israelites to freedom out of Egypt. And in that story, one of the most irritating and disappointing things about the Pharoah of Egypt was that he would say one thing and do another, just over and over again saying he’d let the Israelites go and then holding them back. And after every plague God sent, the Pharaoh would just ask Moses to pray for the plague to go away and he’d say that then the people could go. And so it’s just like, how many pieces of flair is this guy gonna make us put on before we get outta here? Is it really gonna be good enough this time? And I mean, your boss isn’t an Egyptian Pharoah. I know that. But if your boss has that same kind of inconsistency happening, it’s still gonna create conflict. It’s still gonna be frustrating and make people upset, because nobody knows what it’s OK to do. So if you’re a boss, if you want things to go smoothly, dual standards, the shifting or dual set of goal posts like that just have to go.
So at the end of all of this, I think what you’ll see is, God allows for people, for leaders to have authority. And workers are supposed to be respectful of that authority and in fact, 1 Peter 2:18 says to be respectful not just to the nice masters, but to the cruel ones, too. But that’s not giving license to leaders to be cruel. It’s just saying that in a crappy situation, as a worker, you don’t have to get down in the mud with the pigs and behave like they do, that you can hold your integrity and know your place no matter who’s at the helm. And bosses are not supposed to abuse the authority they have. And I think we all can agree that it’s not a very loving thing if an employer is just stressing everybody out and creating confusion everywhere, if they’re pushing expectations so high that workers just burn out and say, “That’s it. I can’t keep doing this anymore. I’m just gonna pull back and do the absolute minimum because I don’t wanna leave but I don’t know what else to do.”
So when we talk about quiet quitting, I really encourage you to look beyond engagement. Really stop and ask yourself what the expectations actually are in the office and whether they’re appropriate, because it’s like running, OK? If you tell people they only have to run a half marathon and that’s what they train for, and then all of a sudden you tell them, “Oh, my bad, you really gotta run 26 miles instead of 13”, nobody’s gonna finish the race. They’re gonna default back to the 13 miles, not necessarily because they don’t wanna go the extra distance, but because they can’t given the preparation that they have at that point in time. And you gotta realize it’s not just physical limits here, either. It’s mentally exhausting to have inconsistent expectations, too, and at some point people will just shut down and lose productivity from the stress.
So that’s my take. I don’t think quiet quitting helps anybody, because nobody’s being direct or communicating clearly when it happens, and because it doesn’t really eliminate any problems that might be present in the business. And I think it goes against the scriptural advice to just be truthful and be respectful to each other.
To close out the show, would you join me in a quick prayer?
Lord, as we bring this idea of quiet quitting forward, I pray that we would remember that, when You want or plan something, You’re never passive-aggressive about it. You always step forward with a fearless heart, and as a Creator, your nature is always to make things better than they are. So I pray, Lord, that people will give their best to bring honor to their companies, but that if people need to leave, if they need out, you’ll put a new opportunity in front of them and let them be clear about why they’re leaving. And Lord, I pray for those in authority that they honor the limits people have and protect them in love, as You would. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
And just like that, everybody, we reached the end of the episode. Our next regular episode, which is gonna drop on the 12th of September, that’s gonna cover the fearless mindset. I know it’s all over the place that you just have to be this warrior who never backs down, but I’ll give you some insights on how we need to rethink all that. In the meantime, go check out our Youtube channel. I’ve got inspirational videos, audiograms, all kinds of good stuff. I’ll put a link in the show notes so that it is super simple for you to do that and subscribe. Thanks everybody, and be blessed.
Faithful on the Clock is a podcast dedicated to ensuring your faith and work align. You won’t find mantras or hacks here--just scripture-based insights to help you grow yourself, your company, and your relationship with God. If you want out of the worldly hamster wheel and want to work with purpose, then this is the show for you. Hosted by freelance business writer Wanda Thibodeaux.
Wanda Marie Thibodeaux is a freelance writer based in Eagan, MN. Since 2006, she has worked with a full range of clients to create website landing pages, product descriptions, articles, professional letters, and other content. She also served as a daily columnist at Inc.com for three years, where she specialized in content on business leadership, psychology, neuroscience, and behavior.
Currently, Thibodeaux accepts clients through her website, Takingdictation.com. She is especially interested in motivational psychology, self-development, and mental health.