The term is just not accurate. Over the last several months I encountered this term numerous times and like all fad phrases each definition is a little bit different than the others. All of that is irrelevant though since the key part of the term seems to be the same, and is just wrong.
I seem to regularly encounter this term now to apply to people described as “not willing to go the extra mile” or “go beyond the specifics of their contract to get the job done.” Hmm. So people willing to live up to their contractual obligations, but not go beyond them, are somehow less than model employees? If you need more time perhaps you need to build it into the contract? Oh, but that likely would necessitate more pay.
The labor market situation right now is still positive for workers. They have options and are willing to explore them. This means employers should carefully write contracts to make clear expectations. The other I think is simply generational labor-leisure choice differences. Workers now may simply prefer to spend money or have time outside of work in a way past cohorts did not. Add in the worry and risk provided by the COVID pandemic and people stopping to “smell the roses” does not seem and extreme behavior change.
None of this changes the fact that “quiet quitting” is simply inaccurate, and the longer we misuse the term the less likely we understand the problem and figure out possible solutions.