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What is quiet quitting and will it infiltrate real estate?

At workplaces across the country, when the clock ticks over to 5pm, a throng of employees turn off their computers and head home.

There’s no working back late or overtime.

In fact, there’s no doing anything beyond the minimum their job requires to get paid.

The term ‘above and beyond’ is no longer in many workers’ vocabulary when it comes to applying themselves at work. 

The movement is called ‘quiet quitting’, and while it doesn’t actually involve resigning, it does mean more and more workers have decided to shun the hectic, ‘do extra’ culture many workplaces operate under.

What is quiet quitting?

It’s a trend that’s always been around, but lately, it has garnered pace thanks to a TikTok content creator that goes by the name of zkchillin, who recently posted a video on the topic that has since gone on to gather millions of views.

“I recently learnt about this term called quiet quitting, where you’re not outright quitting your job, but you’re quitting the idea of going above and beyond,” he says.

“You’re still performing your duties, but you’re no longer subscribing to the hustle culture mentality that work has to be your life.

“The reality is, it’s not, and your worth as a person is not defined by your labour.”

Queensland President of the Career Development Association of Australia, Jennifer Luke, says quiet quitting isn’t about being lazy but relates to employees reassessing their career, life and goals.

It’s also about avoiding burnout.

“A lot of people have misread quiet quitting as meaning slacking off, but that’s not actually what it’s all about,” Jennifer says.

“People are quiet quitting because they have hit burnout.

“It’s also important to note that this has been around for a while. Quiet quitting is just a new term that’s been slapped onto something that’s always been there in the workforce.”

The impact of the pandemic

Jennifer says the TikTok video has certainly heightened the trend, as has the array of workplace changes influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns, worker shortages and people deciding to stop and ask the question, ‘why?’ in various areas of their lives.

“It’s really about people stopping and looking at their current job and asking themselves, ‘Why am I doing this job and where am I wanting to go with it?’” she explains.

“Some people have gone, ‘I’m putting a lot of effort into this role, but I actually really don’t know why I’m doing it’.

“They’ve got caught up in the hustle of it, and they’ve decided to pull back. They will keep working in their job and doing everything they need to do in their job, but they’re really starting to reevaluate their path and looking for more meaningful work.

“Even those that are wanting to open up promotional pathways, for example, are still making sure they’re not sacrificing their wellbeing in the process.”

Jennifer says working from home during the pandemic and lockdowns had also shown workers how productive they could be once a lot of office ‘white noise’ was removed.

Reducing the number and length of meetings, switching to Zoom, and cutting commute times also helped hand workers back time in their day, which many reallocated from overtime to family time.

“A lot of people saw how much more productive they were, and now that’s slowed right down again,” Jennifer says.

“It’s made them realise they don’t want work to consume their entire life.”

Jennifer Luke.

Will quiet quitting infiltrate real estate?

But can quiet quitting work in real estate – an industry that is known for its hustle culture?

Coach Caroline Bolderston, who runs the Being Bold academy, says quiet quitting can work in some areas of real estate but not in all segments.

“Different departments could respond to this differently,” Caroline explains.

“Sales, by nature, is an effort equals reward environment, and I don’t think the ‘hustle’ comes from the expectations of the principal, but from the individual.

“A lot of people get into sales because they want to make a lot of money. If you want to get your fair share of market transactions, you have to go above and beyond because you have to beat your competitors.

“So on that side of real estate, you can’t quiet quit or you won’t reach your goals.”

But Caroline says some sales agents don’t join the industry to make the most money, but to enjoy a flexible lifestyle and, for those agents, the quiet quitting trend may work.

“They may be able to adopt that practice, and while it will have an impact on their results, they may be ok with that because they’re not in it to be the biggest or the best,” she says.

“They’re in it to have a decent life that then gives them time with their friends, their family, or their pastimes and their hobbies.”

Caroline Bolderston
Caroline Bolderston.

Why your energy type matters

Caroline also explains that a person’s ‘energy type’ will influence whether or not quiet quitting will work for them.

The DISC model – standing for dominant, influencer, steady and compliant – emphasises that while people may adapt over time, you never lose your core, natural wiring.

Caroline says quiet quitting would not work for dominant and influencer types.

“The dominant and influencer styles are the ones who look to the future,” she says. 

“It’s all about results. They’re fast-paced. They’re wired that way naturally, and if somebody told a person who’s wired like that to slow down, they might be able to do it for an hour or two, but then their energy would take over, and they wouldn’t be able to help themselves.”

At the other end of the scale, the S and C energy types prefer a steady, paced, process and system-driven environment. 

“Quiet quitting is more likely to naturally happen to those who are wired with C and S energy,” Caroline says.

Typically C and S energy applies to those in administration and even property management, Caroline says.

But rather than turning to quiet quitting, Caroline urges property managers and administration staff to make use of the latest software programs to automate processes such as maintenance.

“You don’t have to necessarily quiet quit, you just have to quietly use technology,” she says.

Alternatives to quiet quitting

Caroline also urges real estate professionals thinking about quiet quitting to instead adjust the expectations of their clients so they can take time out. 

These boundaries relate not just to annual leave, but to start and finish times and days off during the week.

“I don’t believe in being available 24/7,” Caroline says.

“I believe in doing what you need to do to get where you want to go, but I’m also a big believer in people only wanting what we tell them they can have.

“So, when it comes to customer service, if we say we’re available 24/7, of course people are going to expect that.

“A lot of my clients are putting in boundaries around their time out, and they’re shocked and surprised that their clients are ok with it.”

Caroline says instead of quiet quitting, another strategy that silences white noise is staying off social media and turning off all of your notifications, including for email and team messages, while you instigate set ‘focus blocks’ for set times.

“When you finish a focus block, then you go and check all of your notifications,” she says.

For employers looking to reduce the number of employees turning to quiet quitting, Jennifer says investing in office wellness strategies is important, as is providing flexible working options for team members.

“Whenever something can be done online, such as a meeting, do it,” she says.

“Offer your team as much flexibility as possible, and they will appreciate it.”

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Deputy Editor at Elite Agent.