The popularizer of the “quiet quitting” trend has spoken up about his regrets and thoughts on the trend he helped spread—admitting that it was a bad idea for his mental health and career.
- On July 25, 2022, Zaid Khan posted a TikTok video outlining the concept of “quiet quitting” that went viral and caught millions of views—starting a national conversation on workplace disengagement.
- The video created a trend with millions of Zoomers committing to avoid “going above and beyond” at work.
- A year has passed and Khan has since quit his job after “quiet quitting” for six months and admitting that the practice was not the answer.
- In a subsequent TikTok, Khan noted that purposefully underperforming gave him “conflicting inner feelings” and a sense of “looming fear that you’re gonna get ‘found out’ and fired.”
- He currently advocates fully quitting unsatisfying jobs and blames poor management for the rise in disengaged and unhappy young workers.
Why It’s Important
25-year-old Khan tells Business Insider that the massive response to his TikTok video last year was gratifying. It was helpful to know that other people felt the same about workplace disengagement and disillusionment with their jobs. His video became part of a larger anti-work movement among young people that focuses on finding meaning and purpose outside of jobs and leaving jobs that are not fulfilling or meaningful.
However, “quiet quitting” has proven to have downsides that Khan experienced firsthand. He felt more insecure with his job after he began to perform less and felt a creeping sense of existential dread about his direction in life, which he addressed by focusing more on volunteer work and hobbies. He now works as a freelancer and is pursuing his personal interests.
“We’ve been so conditioned by capitalism to think that our worth has to derive from our jobs. It wasn’t until I made the decision to actually leave my job that I just felt this enormous weight lifted off my shoulders. And it’s a decision that I wish more people could make because I do think life is too short to be dissatisfied wherever you are. Because the reality is work does consume so many hours of our lives,” Khan tells Business Insider.
“Maybe they got a cool title, maybe they got the house and the car that they wanted, but do they actually feel like they lived? So I think just having that self-awareness—which seems to be more and more common in my generation—realizing, ‘Wait, what are we working this hard for?’ With climate change, with the world dying, ‘Why are we doing this?’ So I’m just embracing that ethos for myself and trying to just take it a day at a time.”