Quiet Quitting and the Great Breakup

by Nov 1, 2022

The Great Breakup

Women are quiet quitting in their droves and are one microaggression or broken boundary away from a great breakup


Dorothy Dalton wrote about Quiet Quitting in her LinkedIn newsletter suggesting that it was the rebranding of a phenomenon which has been around since people became wage slaves. Today women are quiet quitting in their droves, some have been for years and are one microaggression or broken boundary away from a great breakup

Quiet quitting rebranded

The notion of quiet quitting gained traction following a video posted on TikTok in late July. This short clip which has reached an audience of millions shows a young man sitting in a New York City subway station talking about quiet quitting thus “You are still performing your duties but you’re no longer subscribing to the hustle culture mentality that work has to be your life.”  

The term is now being widely coined by Gen Z, the newest cohort in the workplace. This is a generation accused of being too “woke to work,” overindulging in avocado toast, and having the temerity to want to do something meaningful.

They are drawing lines in the sand around the historical unwritten rules around the corporate culture of sacrifice and overwork.


Above and beyond

During my career, I have known many people who have given 110% or even more. They have gone the “extra mile.” They travelled constantly quite often leaving on a Sunday night and arriving back late on Fridays to cut into their weekends so they didn’t impact company time.

They worked weekends and 60-hour weeks and were on their phones constantly checking their emails. Family events were just dates in the diary and they even arrived on holidays late or left early.

Lunch was for wimps unless it was for business. They never got sick enough to miss work.

Then one day they were made redundant or had a professional disappointment.


The Great Breakup and Quiet Quitting

Leaders need to make the connection between women, quiet quitting, and the risk of a great breakup

Petra said she started what is now called “quiet quitting” some years ago. “I wasn’t laid off, but I found that I earned 25% less than my male colleagues who were doing the same job and whose results were not as good as mine. I just started doing my job and what I was paid for. Nothing more.” 

Marie took to quiet quitting when she returned from six months of maternity leave to find she had lost her seniority to her male colleagues. She is being asked to undertake projects which are not related to her KPIs (non-promotional work) and is actively looking at the market. In the meantime she is doing her job. That’s it.

Marion began her quiet quitting when she requested flex time to care for her sick mother. Her boss refused and she was obliged to work part-time, taking a 50% pay cut, but still left with 90% of her workload.

What they said

They all carried out their duties to the best of their abilities, but they made some new but unspoken ground rules. There was no question of underperforming which some pundits mistakenly think this is. They were happy to be loyal, but not exploited. They did their jobs.

  • They started to set very clear boundaries about what they were willing to do and said a hard NO to all invisible housework.
  • They stopped working additional hours without compensation and made it clear that work-life balance was a key priority.
  • All women refused to let their colleagues or bosses make them feel guilty for putting their family front and centre. One kept her resignation letter already written in her desk drawer. It only needed dating and signing. The great breakup for her is one microaggression away.
  • They all took off the rose-coloured spectacles. There is no such thing as a work family and they saw they all had very little support from their colleagues who were in reality their competitors.


Learn how to navigate the many, often invisible, barriers that you face as a woman with our specialised Career Coaching for Women.


Organisations need to re-think

At the moment it is Gen Z who are associated with this latest trend but it has always been going on. Perhaps today it is the scale and the openness of the resistance which is newsworthy.


In the meantime, as women are reported to be the demographic most likely to physically quit, leaders need to pay attention. Quiet quitting is here and the great breakup is in the future of many women.


3Plus offers a portfolio of gender balance solutions which includes working with you to establish an understanding of the unwritten corporate culture.




Staff Writer: Career Contributor
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