For the anti-quiet quitter: How to show initiative

frustrated and stressed woman in office

Quiet quitting is having a moment.

From a healthy work-life balance that stops the office spilling over into personal time to rejecting opportunities and emotionally checking out of your job, the range of definitions is extreme.

In some careers, ‘doing the bare minimum required’ is possible. Commonplace even. But as an industry, PR, like other client service careers, is notorious for its lack of work-life balance.

The thing about PR is that it attracts the naturally curious, the inquisitive, the relentless. Great communicators with tenacity and the drive to hunt down and tell incredible stories. We need to know why you did that, what it means and how it sits in culture.

And this doesn’t just apply to what’s in our job description. Most of us – whether from journalism, communications, or business development backgrounds – have a genuine interest in learning. We want to know more; we want to learn and grow.

So, if your clients are happy, the to-do list is ticked off and you have a few minutes spare, what can you be doing to show initiative?

Get out more. The world is waking up again and the number of talks, festivals and workshops is rising. Events that benefit you professionally don’t have to feel like work. Mixing with other creatives and listening to interesting talks will, of course, give you insightful context for your next client call. But it might also remind you why you’re here in the first place. To be inspired, to discover new artists, to learn new skills.

Think beyond your clients. Sometimes the tidal wave of client emails, Teams chats, Slack, phone calls… can feel overwhelming. But if you have time, take a step back and consider the bigger picture. What would make life simpler for you and your colleagues? Is there a system that needs revamping? A new wellness initiative that could relieve some stress or make people happier? A work benefit that should be brought in? Share your idea and take ownership as it grows.

Give upward feedback. There’s an assumption that feedback comes from your line manager. Whether that’s in a formal review or consistently over time. But why should it be confined to this? The best agencies learn up and down, so take some initiative and give constructive feedback to your teammates where it’s due, building management skills as you grow.

Read. Listen. Learn. An oldie, but goodie. Reading books or listening to podcasts on design, business strategy, entrepreneurship, management, arts, culture, music – it’s all relevant to your career but also to life beyond the office. Advice not just for clients but also friends starting their own businesses, finding new connections between business and culture, learning alternative ways to tell stories. Pick up a book – or stick on your headphones – and get learning.

Share your skills. Are you a strong storyteller? A master at Excel? A powerful presenter? Think about how you can share these skills with your team, whether as part of an agency-wide training programme, smaller focus groups or one-on-one. And encourage others to do the same. Everyone has different strengths and can learn from each other.

We all know how fast-moving some careers can be, but if you can carve out half an hour every so often to get away from your desk, pick up a new skill or share your talents with your team, it’s a brilliant way to show initiative. Great for clients, great for your agency, and most of all, great for you.

Sian DissonAbout the author

Sian Disson is senior account director at brand design PR specialist Red Setter. She works closely with her team to deliver PR and communications advice to leading global brand design agencies, working to raise the voice and value of design in business.

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