« Se limiter aux termes de son contrat de travail pour profiter de la vie n'a rien à voir avec une démission. »

Quiet Quitting Isn’t What You Think

Posted Sep 19, 2022, 1:00 PMUpdated on Sep 19, 2022 at 1:07 p.m.

A new term has been in vogue for a few months: “quiet quitting” or “silent quitting”. We would use it today to talk about an unexpressed wish to resign, resulting in the fact of doing “only” what is written black and white in his employment contract (missions, right to disconnect and working hours especially). In reality, these are mainly employees looking for a better balance between professional and personal life.

No one doubts that the health crisis that we have just gone through and which continues has something to do with it. Indeed, it will have shaken up many of our habits and desires, starting with being closer to those we love or more concerned about our well-being. In short, by taking more time for yourself.

It is ultimately this pandemic that has played an important role in these changes in philosophy. After having tasted a massive reduction in transport time during confinement, precious moments with family, a greater or lesser ease in carrying out the same missions in telework thanks to digital tools, some are no longer ready to go back. , a time when their lives were more like the famous “metro-work-sleep”.

If around half of working people today enjoy returning to the office, the need to reconcile personal and professional life has remained very present for everyone.

Resignation or life balance?

It was enough for some to associate this desire for change with a desire to leave, going so far as to create the amalgam with the great resignation which has hit France hard in recent months (translated by 20.2% increase in contractual terminations in one year and 520,000 resignations per quarter in 2022, according to Dares).

However, the two phenomena are very different. Limiting yourself to the terms of your employment contract to enjoy life has nothing to do with quitting.

Indeed, on the one hand there are employees who want to leave their company because they are no longer in tune with values, missions or functioning. They talk about it to their colleagues, family when they can’t openly talk about it to their manager. They are then in a real intention to leave. And on the other side there are employees who only want their day not to be limited to a professional activity and have chosen to no longer make an act of presenteeism.

Massively denounced in recent years, presenteeism is no longer a sign of involvement or even of performance and even less of commitment. Just as needs change over time, so do practices. This is the case for Laurent (his first name has been changed), father of an 18-month-old boy, who explained to me that having 1 hour 45 minutes of transport when he goes to his client, he now leaves without feeling guilty at 5 p.m. his post to spend some time with his family in the evening before putting his son to bed.

He adds that he would have no difficulty finding another job given his highly sought-after skills, but he is not in this process to date. We can therefore clearly see here that it is not a form of resignation to leave on time, but only a need for balance for one’s family life.

For Hélène, it’s different. Employed for 7 years in the same company, she bent over backwards during the crisis so that her company could continue its activity, despite the difficulties of managing at the same time the children who no longer had school and without her objectives monthly are revised downwards.

Today, the company asks all employees to return to the office, without taking into account the changes made on their side to manage to keep up. In her case, it is her employer’s lack of flexibility that forces her to be less flexible, also regarding overtime. This is called the “mirror effect”. She is not looking to change jobs: her missions, her sector of activity, her colleagues, she likes everything, but she must now respect her schedules at the risk of seeing her children waiting for her on the sidewalk at the exit of the school.

So is Quiet Quitting a claim? A punishment ? A sign of discomfort?

Above all, it seems to be a word “tote everything today. As soon as an employee limits himself to what is written in his employment contract, we will have this need to put him in a box, like an irrepressible need.

Is an employee really resigning when he respects what is written in his employment contract or is it our culture of presenteeism that takes over here?

It is interesting here to ask the question simply of the interest of the employment contract. Companies have been working on the well-being of employees for months, for months we have been hearing about “QVCT” (quality of life and working conditions), the right to disconnect, all of which is part of employment contracts.

“What is the point of a contract if it cannot guarantee reassuring practices for all the signatory parties? »

Are we then in a society of appearing, with a bullshit employer brand, if the company notes the conditions of exercise of its functions so that this is then reproached to the employee, or that he is judged as a “profiteer” in the practice ?

No one will expect a salary of 3,000 euros at the end of the month when the employment contract mentions 2,500, so what is the difference in practice with an employee who leaves at 5 p.m. when the contract explicitly mentions the hours for which he is paid? ?

What is left of the interest of a contract if it cannot be the guarantor of reassuring practices for all the signatory parties? Respecting it is, in the end, on both sides, the healthiest way to work without having to ask questions every day.

Working to live and not the other way around is not a silent resignation, but a form of preservation of one’s well-being, physical and mental, which above all takes up the rules set up by the company itself.

Let’s stop blaming employees who respect their contract, because it is by pointing this out today that the company risks ultimately seeing them leave definitively…

Marjorie Di Placido, executive coach and HRD, human resources specialist