Three-minute explainer on… loud quitting

Younger generations aren’t standing for intolerable working conditions – and they’re unafraid to say so. Meet ‘loud quitting’

Three-minute explainer

David Allen Coe may have sung “take this job and shove it” in his country classic of the same name back in 1971, but it wasn’t until the TikTok era that this sentiment became career advice.

With digital-native generations navigating the workplace for the first time, in a challenging economic environment, age-old phenomena like ‘quitting’ have acquired new names with subtle but important differences. There’s quiet quitting – spiritually giving up on your job while still drawing a salary – and now, ‘loud quitting’. 

What is loud quitting?

If ‘quiet quitting’ speaks to disengagement, loud quitting speaks to desperation. Simply put, loud quitting means quitting… loudly, usually on social media, when employees are at the end of their tether. 

Unlike the scorched-Earth tactics of yesteryear – see “take this job and shove it” – ‘loud quitting’ does not begin and end with a private, albeit heated, discussion between employee and manager. Instead, the drama is out there for the whole world to see. 

Search TikTok for ‘QuitTok’ and thousands of videos will show exasperated young employees confronting their managers or resigning. Posts like “the moment i quit my toxic job with no backup plan”, “come with me to quit my job” and “I will never allow a job to make me feel this way again” have amassed millions of views.

In fact, Gallup found in a 2023 poll that as many as one in five employees have loudly quit. 

While it might be tempting to view loud quitting as a generational quirk, the videos shine a light on very real concerns, including poor behaviour from managers or the bureaucratic cruelty of redundancies and unjust performance reviews. The employees posting these videos might feel they have no form of recourse other than to turn to social media, where the human aftermath of sackings or difficult work environments are placed centre-stage rather than swept under the carpet. 

Loud quitting: causes and solutions

The axiom that employees don’t quit their jobs, they quit bad managers, clearly rings true for many. According to a 2023 Chartered Management Institute report, 82% of managers fall into their roles accidentally and have not received formal training.

This report found that 50% of those respondents who did not view their manager as effective planned to leave their roles in the next year. And younger generations may have a lower tolerance still for these ‘accidental’ bosses. 

But the feeling may be mutual: according to a 2023 report by ResumeBuilder, three-quarters of managers and business leaders find generation Z the “most challenging” in the workplace. 

That might be partly due to a mismatch around shifting priorities among younger generations, who are less willing to put up with what they view as toxic workplaces or poor work/life balance. 

Rather than ‘living to work’, gen Z report that they value social responsibility, purpose, personal growth, inclusion, guidance and mentorship. 

According to one Adobe survey, 96% of gen Z respondents said they knew their company’s values and 78% thought it was important they connected with them. 

Perhaps leaders could bridge this gap by setting out clear organisational values that are impactful and built into every part of the organisation. Most critically, these values must be bolstered by measurable action.

This may be a thorny issue for leaders to navigate, but if they’re sincere about talent retention, then building positive values into the fabric of their workplace is something they’ll have to take seriously. And if those values are not practised? Well, younger employees aren’t afraid to let the world know about it – loudly.