Call it the business of alliteration. Alliteration is an accepted, though mostly unremarked, marketing tool. From signs for Coca Cola, Delta Dental, Best Buy, and Krispy Kreme, I can hardly drive my Toyota Tacoma to town without seeing examples. So, I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised to read the many media missives about the phenomenon of Quiet Quitting.

But I am.

More about that later. First, permit me this quick quote from The Meriam Webster Dictionary, specifically its definition of alliteration: “(It is) the repetition of usually initial consonant sounds in two or more neighboring words or syllables.”  Quiet quitting certainly qualifies.

What exactly is quiet quitting? Quiet quitting is a pattern of employee behavior that involves doing only what is expected. Quiet quitters avoid doing more than what their job entails; they refuse to work longer without additional compensation. If one is to believe the Gallup organization, quiet quitters make up over fifty percent of the US workforce. Supposedly, this mass of manpower is “not engaged” at work; they are psychologically detached from their jobs. Gallup notes that this trend began in late 2021 and has grown worryingly worse.

Can that be true? I pondered this proposition as I drove to my local Dunkin Donuts, where I asked the poorly paid, part time, donut distribution clerk for her opinion. Like me, she pooh poohed the poll results: Quiet quitting is nothing new; it has been around since forever, kinda like the coffee in our Bunn-o-Matic coffee pots.

So, why the sudden significance of quiet quitting? Is it the result of increased, post-Covid worker dissatisfaction? Perhaps. Yet, the emergence of this supposedly new trend can also be traced to that alliteratively named, video-hosting service: Tik Tok. Quiet quitting first became a cause célèbre when disaffected workers began posting clips there.

Call me a contrarian, but I discount the widely-held wisdom that nothing really exists until it becomes popular on social media. Could this “new trend” be little more than alliteration being used to create a clickable catch phrase? Are bloggers, tweeple, HR experts and others using quiet quitting to market their products and services? Is this just another example of Marketing 101 in practice? An old product in a new package.

I don’t know. What I do know is this. Had the quiet quitting trend been described (even in videos) as the Disengaged Worker Syndrome or the Unhappy Employee Phenomenon, the topic would be far less popular; I would not be writing this blog.

Long live, alliterative allusions.

Peter Dragone - Co-founder of Keurig.