2 min read

The productivity bar can’t be raised forever

Quiet quitting is actually about resetting what a sane amount of work looks like
The productivity bar can’t be raised forever
Photo by Long Ma / Unsplash

Sustain issue #73 (Get Sustain in your inbox next Thursday)

I’m loudly tired of talking about quiet quitting but there’s one really important angle of the conversation missing I need to mention. And then I’ll be done. Promise.

Last week, one of my LinkedIn posts caught fire for simply asking this question: Is it Quiet Quitting or are people salaried to work 40 hours a week simply trying to work the hours they are paid for? 🤔

I had an executive I respect reach out and suggest this isn’t what quiet quitting is. They said quiet quitting was more about mailing it in and doing the minimum viable work to stay employed.

I’ve seen this tension play out in several articles and conversations I’ve had. Leaders are annoyed by lazy workers skating by and employees are annoyed that leaders can’t seem to solve the problem that’s loud and clear – BURNOUT.

While taking a bike ride through the woods over the weekend, I had three hours of uninterrupted time to reflect on both sides of this issue. What is really at the heart of Quiet Quitting?

An ideal place to solve work's largest problems

The coverage of this issue seems to be missing the whole point. It’s not about setting boundaries. It’s not about lazy employees doing the bare minimum.

Quiet Quitting is a cry to correct and reset how we define the bare minimum. It’s an indictment of the elevated baseline of productivity that has been normalized in hustle culture.

Today’s bare minimum is right at or above the burnout threshold. This means that going above and beyond continuously, like we’re told to do to not be lazy, pushes us well up and over into inescapable burnout. This isn't sustainable and is bad for the individual and bad for the company.  

The headline here isn’t lazy workers collecting stimulus checks from their employers. It’s that we want what’s expected of us to be within our realistic limits.

We know we’re paid to do a job. But the relationship with work has become all-consuming. We’ll go above and beyond but we need to revisit what a sane amount of work is. We need to revisit actually setting top priorities. And we need reasonable deadlines.

It’s not really quiet quitting. It’s a loud protest of how normalized burnout culture is.


Ready to downsize your relationship with work and quit burnout?

Hi, I'm Grant Gurewitz. I'm on a mission to eliminate burnout at work. I've been in tech for 10 years (ex-Zillow, current: Qualtrics) and suffered deep burnout and came back from it even though I never found a playbook for doing so. So, I'm writing it myself.

✉️ Want my top tips? I share my full step-by-step playbook in How I Quit Burnout, my premium newsletter. Get the next one delivered straight to your inbox >

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