'Mental step back' | Could new 'resenteeism' trend take quiet quitting to a worrying level?

Could new 'resenteeism' trend take quiet quitting to a worrying level?

It seems like there's a buzzword for every HR issue these days. Career cushioning. The Great Resignation. Quiet Quitting. Quiet Firing.

Such has been the complexity of HR’s most pressing recruitment and retention situations over the past three years, that LinkedIn’s masses have been clamouring over themselves to coin catchphrases and buzzwords that easily sum up the issue of the day.

And now, a new term is neatly packaging up an issue that many HRDs and CPOs might currently be witnessing.

Resenteeism. According to RotaCloud, a staff-management software company which posted a blog about the term on its website: “Resenteeism describes the feeling of staying in a job despite being fundamentally unhappy. Concerns around the cost of living, job security, or a lack of preferable alternatives means that many people are choosing to stay where they are, but actively resenting it.

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“This resentment can extend to their workplace, the organisation as a whole, and even the people they work with. In short, resenteeism is a bitter pill for all concerned and a worrying new workplace trend.”

This differs from ‘quiet quitting’ in the sense that ‘quiet quitters’ are deciding to remain in their employment while doing the bare minimum, whereas ‘resentiers’, as RotaCloud dubs them, aren’t happy with their jobs but feel unable to leave, due to a range of factors such as economic uncertainty.

Both, however, indicate a level of dissatisfaction with one’s working environment that should be of concern to HR.

How to spot resenteeism

RotaCloud’s blog explains: “When resenteeism sets in, employees don’t just mentally step back from their work — de-prioritising their job and how it contributes to their identity — they actively resent it.

“This means they’re likely to disengage from what they do, and become increasingly unhappy.”

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Tell-tale signs include changes in attitude or behaviour, a lack of enthusiasm, and a decline in the quality of an employee’s work.

“As with most things in work and life, communication is essential for dealing with instances of resenteeism. And acting early on any signs you spot will be beneficial for the individual in question, your wider staff team, and your business” says RotaCloud.

Could ‘quiet thriving’ be the antidote to quiet quitting and resenteeism?

‘Quiet thriving’ is a concept that emerged after the trend ‘quiet quitting’ became widely discussed at the end of 2022.

In contrast to the idea of completing the minimum requirements of one's job. Individuals put in no more time, effort, or energy than needed, ‘quiet thriving’ encourages employees to do the opposite, by finding ways to re-engage with their work and find enjoyment again, without overdoing it and burning themselves out.

Gosia Bowling, National Lead for Emotional Wellbeing at Nuffield Health, outlines small changes that can be made if you’re looking to rediscover your love for your job:

1. Shift your perspective

A new perspective can renew your passion for your line of work and increase your productivity.

If you approach your role with a negative mindset at the start of each day, you will only be able to see the parts of the job that you dislike and will overlook the positive aspects.

Instead, try to shift your mindset and look for the beneficial parts of your position that you enjoy and give you a sense of purpose.

Negativity is commonly associated as one of the stronger emotions, so consistent practice of positive thinking is essential to reduce daily pessimistic thoughts.

2. Take action

If there are responsibilities of your job that you enjoy more than others, have a discussion with your manager to see if there are ways to expand on them and discuss how to cope with the tasks you dislike.

This process is often referred to as job crafting, which is the process of an employee shaping their role to be more appealing, often with the help of a manager.

Not only can this improve your attitude toward your work, but it can also lead to further opportunities to complete tasks that you enjoy and allow your manager to have a better understanding of your strengths.

3. Set boundaries

While being busy at work is often praised and encouraged, it can lead to employees working outside of work hours or through lunch breaks.

This will not only lead to burn out but build resentment towards your job too. However, this can be avoided by setting clear boundaries at work to create better work-life balance.

A work time-frame agreed upon by both employee and employer are essential for job satisfaction and overall happiness.

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Set a start and finish time to stick to during the working day and be strict about not checking emails or messages outside of work hours.

This will also give you more time to enjoy other aspects of your life outside of work. In a recent survey on stress and wellbeing, 4 in 5 participants found spending time on a hobby highly effective in managing stress. Further research suggests people with some hobbies are less likely to suffer from low mood, and depression.

This is especially needed for those who feel overwhelmed by their work and ever-growing to-do lists, to recharge their batteries by doing an activity which sparks joy.

4. Build workplace relationships

Positive relationships with your colleagues are hugely important for emotional well-being, as they can create a more relaxed and sociable environment to work in.

Co-worker interaction can help to relieve boredom from day-to-day tasks, and employees who work with friends are seven times more likely to be engaged with their job.

Interaction with colleagues during breaks and workplace socials can help to cultivate these relationships.

5. Take small breaks

Using your lunch break and taking micro-breaks can help to improve your emotional and physical wellbeing at work.

A study found that micro-breaks are hugely important for reducing stress and increasing task performance. Additionally, another study revealed that employees who use their full lunch break to relax are more productive and creative.

Regular breaks can also have a positive physical impact, as taking small breaks while working on tasks on electronic devices can reduce eye strain, backache and headaches.

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