Resenteeism, quiet quitting… give me a break

Posted by Admin, Thu 24 August 2023

Resenteeism and quiet quitting are buzzwords that have been circulating in HR circles, describing an increase in employees who stay in their jobs despite hating them. While some claim that this is a growing trend, there is little empirical evidence to support these claims. In fact, what we may be seeing is a broader issue of employee exhaustion following the pandemic and increasing volatility and complexity in working arrangements.

While the idea of resenteeism and quiet quitting may be catchy, it risks oversimplifying the complex and multifaceted factors that influence employee well-being and satisfaction.

As American essayist H.L.Mencken once noted “For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”

These issues cannot be reduced to a catchy phrase or attributed solely to workplace issues. Rather, they are part of a broader set of challenges, including macro-level pressures such as political extremism, climate change, and the VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) of the current business landscape.

The notion of resenteeism and quiet quitting places the responsibility solely on the employees, ignoring the broader context in which they work. It’s important to recognize that employees are not solely responsible for their well-being and that the workplace is just one factor among many that contribute to their happiness and satisfaction.

Instead of focusing solely on the idea of resenteeism and quiet quitting, companies should prioritize a more holistic approach to employee well-being. This includes addressing the broader context in which employees work and providing support and resources to help employees navigate the challenges they face. By acknowledging and addressing these broader issues, companies can create a more supportive and resilient workplace that benefits both employees and the organization as a whole.

Whatever about the buzzwords, burnout is a real and active threat. An October 2022 study by Workhuman found that three in ten employees in Ireland reported that they felt burnout “very often” or “always”. While that survey was of knowledge workers and therefore cannot be generalised, it seems fair to conclude that people are under pressure. But it’s people under pressure, and then that having an impact on their work.

A pithy phrase can help but more often it trivialises something complex into a buzzword or trend. The real underlying problems are masked – and those are the issues which often need to be addressed.

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