UAE jobs: Why viral trend ‘quiet quitting’ is taking over workplaces

Definition of the latest social media fad changes whether one supports or dismisses it; here is what you need to know


Sahim Salim


Waheed Abbas

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Published: Wed 24 Aug 2022, 9:31 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Aug 2022, 3:01 PM

G.D., an expat working in a private company in Dubai, used to give it her all and more to work: Weekends, public holidays and extra hours almost on a daily basis. However, after realising that none of those extra efforts materialised into career growth or better pay, she scaled down.

“My peers earn about 50 per cent more than I do and get to enjoy time with their families. I stayed on in the same company, and perhaps, am being taken for granted,” she said. “I now work strictly within my work hours and take all my days off.”

G.D’s case is part of a global viral trend called ‘quiet quitting’ that has taken over video-sharing app TikTok and discussion platform Reddit. And recruitment experts have warned that it is catching up in the Gulf region.

What is quiet quitting?

It is a social media trend, with thousands of content creators taking to TikTok to share their take. Its definition changes, depending on whether one supports it as ‘ensuring life-work balance’ or dismisses it as ‘people being lazy’.

The trend sees employees do exactly what they are hired for and not go beyond the call of duty. So, no overtime without compensation, and no additional responsibilities without a promotion. In this TikTok post, professional networking platform LinkedIn explains the trend:

A Reddit post on the ‘Dubai’ community about the topic has both supporters and haters. One said it is a “term cooked up by managers to label and punish those that do not want to work over what they should”.

Another said one should work for salaries they aim to get and not for the one they currently earn, and therefore, must go the extra mile.

Tibet Eğrioğlu, VP Adecco Group, a global HR solutions firm, explained to Khaleej Times:

Adecco’s recent research suggests that employees are less inclined to stay through “rough patches or even through good times if they feel low levels of job security”.

In the UAE, employees seek social life after work hours. “They want to do the bare minimum within their job description to avoid working longer hours,” said Eğrioğlu.

Vijay Gandhi, regional director for Europe, Middle East and Africa at Korn Ferry, a global management consulting firm, said one factor encouraging the trend is employees not seeing a future at their organisation. “Young employees also only have Covid-era work experience as their anchor, a time that has led workers of all ages to question what they really want to do professionally.”

Based on inputs from the two experts, here is why employees would not be motivated enough to put in that extra effort at work:

Old concept with a new name

“The issue of employees being checked out at work isn’t new, of course,” said Gandhi. “For decades, ‘coasting’ or ‘checked out’ were the phrases used by employees doing the bare minimum. Multiple studies show that only about one-third of employees consider themselves ‘highly engaged’ at work.”

Quiet quitting is trending now because of “how far the job market has swung” in favour of workers over the last two years. “Coasting employees aren’t worried if their bosses fire them — they’ll just find another job.”

How to retain talent

According to Eğrioğlu, companies must come up with “great retention” strategies. “As we reset to the new normal, the future of work is hybrid and new flexible work models can deliver great outcomes for business.”

Upskilling opportunities can also make a “big difference” for many employees re-evaluating career moves. “We consider it good practice to give new hires visibility of their next role and schemes like this should be more widely adopted. We are thus providing staff with skill-based learning journeys that help them plan for the next two-to-three years of their career.”

Gandhi said many organisations know they have a problem with employee engagement. “They also know that even with the economy cooling, they are short of talent in critical areas and can’t afford to harbour quiet quitters.”

According to him, this is what companies must do:


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