The problem with “quiet quitting” and other buzzy management terms

The media wasn’t done with labor market lingo after search interest in Klotz’s term subsided, though. In 2022 Zaid Khan, a tech worker based in New York City, shared a TikTok about “quiet quitting,” which he described as a rejection of “the hustle culture mentality that work has to be your life.” That term helped spur countless stories and think pieces about declining engagement among U.S. workers. After “quiet quitting” came myriad similar terms, including “quiet hiring,” “quiet firing,”and “loud quitting.” Just a few weeks ago “bare minimum Monday” started making the rounds in a new round of media coverage.

Experts who study language and management say there’s a reason we gravitate toward such terms during unstable or confusing periods. But relying too much on jargon can also do a disservice to workers and managers grappling with complex labor force-related challenges. Workplace leaders who are serious about addressing issues like employee engagement would be best served by forgetting about viral buzzwords, some scholars say, and instead focusing on their underlying causes.