Quiet quitting – it’s the newest workplace trend, and it’s happening because employees want to avoid burnout, says a University of Guelph human resources professor. 

Dr. Nita Chhinzer smiles for a portrait in an outdoor setting.
Dr. Nita Chhinzer.

Dr. Nita Chhinzer is a professor in the Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics, where she studies downsizing in the workplace and human resources and technology in the Department of Management. Her research interests also include workplace procedures and ethics. 

“Quiet quitting” isn’t the actual quitting of a job. Instead, it’s a decision to say no to tasks outside of one’s core job, like participating in a focus group or additional training, says Chhinzer.   

The pandemic forced people to reconsider their work-life balance, but as things begin to return to some semblance of normal, people are realizing those extra tasks are seemingly endless, she explains.  

“What they are feeling is just burned out,” she told a recent episode of The Morning Edition on CBC Kitchener-Waterloo. “Some people are completely burned out because they’ve been doing this for so long. Others are feeling exploited.” 

Quiet quitting isn’t employee disengagement, although employers may perceive it that way. Rather, employees are choosing not to do work that should technically be assigned, compensated for or scheduled, says Chhinzer. 

In a labour market that has tightened and become more competitive, employees are less afraid to set these boundaries because their employer is less inclined to fire them, she explains, adding that this gives employees more opportunities to advocate for themselves.  

“The people who are picking up the extra tasks to begin with are the star performers, the people you generally want to keep around,” Chhinzer added. “If you put more pressure on them to pick up even more tasks, you’re running yourself into the ground.” 

Employers shouldn’t choose not to act if they notice their employees are quietly quitting, Chhinzer said. That will just lead to more employees following the trend and to increased burnout. 

“If someone refuses to do a task, you’re going to put that pressure on someone else who’s already feeling that they’re at capacity,” she told CBC. “They’re going to burn out.” 

Instead, employers could review the current work environment and adapt it to meet their employees’ needs, such as providing them with temporal or monetary compensation, streamlining their tasks or balancing their workloads, she says. 

Chhinzer is available for interviews this week. 


Dr. Nita Chhinzer