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Business Notes

Considering 'quietly quitting' your job? Set boundaries for work-life balance instead

Worried young Asian man with his hand on head, using laptop computer at home, looking concerned and stressed out

Photo by Getty Images

Feeling overworked and underappreciated? That’s the impetus behind “quiet quitting,” the practice of reducing the amount of effort an employee devotes to work due to burnout from going above and beyond.

Kim McGuiness photo by Barry McClintock Photography.jpg

Photo of Kim McGuiness by Barry McClintock Photography

“Quiet quitters” are those who elect to do just what they were paid to do, during the time they’re expected to do it, and nothing more. The notion surfaced in the world’s work environment in the early 2000s, and a recent resurgence has occurred as workforce reductions and changes in job expectations were brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, explains Kim McGuiness, counselor and clinical director at Get Centered: Counseling Coaching and Wellness, a group-counseling and coaching practice offering career counseling in the metro area.

“Much of what ‘quiet quitting’ supports is a recalibration of work-life balance and the need for employees to feel valued based on opportunities for job advancement, pay equality and a sense of belonging through praise and recognition,” McGuiness says. “Quiet quitting is the result of our human psychological and cultural understanding of work being challenged.”

To avoid job burnout and tension at work, employees can seek more balance by setting boundaries. “Explore yourself, your emotional triggers relating to control, and from where you get your energy,” McGuiness advises. “We have to understand where our safety, comfort and self-care come from before we can ask our employer or peers to aid in our need for balance.”

A good exercise for learning about yourself is to draw a circle inside a circle, McGuiness continues: “Within the inner circle are the things you need to feel seen and heard. The circle outside the inner circle are the things that conflict with the inner circle and where we want to understand if change can be made.”

Then communicate these boundaries to supervisors and co-workers. “A common challenge with setting boundaries is we assume our behaviors will ‘show’ others our boundaries or the fact we have ‘told them once before’ will be enough,” McGuiness explains. “Boundary-setting requires us to be direct, keep what we say simple, repeatedly state our needs and consistently manage our requests.”

When communicating a need to a superior or peer, stay in an assertive communication pattern, McGuiness says: “Using the formula of ‘I feel … about/because/when … ’ and ‘I need … ’ keeps the conversation focused on your thoughts, feelings and behaviors – and out of the place of aggressive communication and defensiveness.”

The best way to ask for any consideration in the workplace is to be curious as to what is possible, McGuiness notes: “By asking for what is possible, what our role is in making that possible, and what support can we expect from our employer, we begin to share a commitment to our balance.”

After all, McGuiness says, “balance is … the valuing of one thing over another. When we know our values, what things are in place that support or distract us from them, and … where we want to place our time and energy, our equation begins to feel a little bit closer to success.”

Get Centered: Counseling, Coaching and Wellness, 14137 Clayton Road, Town and Country, 314-899-2670, getcenteredcounselingstl.com

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Brittany Nay, a writer of 10 years, is an Indiana native who adores Australia, indie rock music, and reading and writing both fiction and non-fiction.

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