Anti-work movement

Posted by Flux on 

31 January 2022

What’s trending?
“When we come into contact with life-threatening events, we tend to… consider whether we are happy with our lives or whether we would like to make changes to them. The pandemic forced [people] to take stock of their lives and gave them the opportunity to reimagine it,” says Texas A&M university management professor Anthony Klotz. Workers amid the Great Resignation are quitting in droves. There’s a growing movement, particularly in the first world, of people rejecting corporate culture, the notion of overworking and in many instances, being underpaid. This ‘anti-work’ sentiment has been gaining momentum, with a move towards ‘hustles’ such as investing, selling goods or monetising services (including homemade porn on OnlyFans). The four-day work week concept is a related trend. 

Why is it important?
Investment bank  Goldman Sachs anticipates that the ‘anti-work’ movement may pose a long-term risk to labour force participation. Since the start of the pandemic, about 5 million Americans have withdrawn their labour from the market, with an estimated 3.4 million most likely gone for good. Sectors particularly affected are food services and wholesale trade. Many countries around the world are going through something similar. As a consequence,  supply chain disruptions are being exacerbated, with key industries struggling to regain momentum due to a lack of workers or raw materials. But over and above this, worker rights have come to the fore. They are demanding reasonable work hours in order to have time for pursuits outside of work, and fair financial compensation. 

Above: US companies’ printers are getting spammed by anti-work manifestos

What can businesses do about it?
Change is in the air and businesses need to take heed of this shift. Studies show that employees want the flexibility in work hours introduced during the pandemic to continue. This is one way to keep employees satisfied. A recent study found that 89% of employees are burned out. Prioritising the mental health of employees is another such measure, as well as making sure they are being fairly compensated. Recognising and rewarding your loyal talent, changing how you define and measure work and equipping your HR team to deal with the new attitudes to work are other examples of what businesses can do. Overall, being attentive to the needs of employees will go a long way towards a happier less disgruntled workforce. 

By Faeeza Khan

If you would like to know more about the future of work, contact us to book our trend briefing The Post-Pandemic Workplace – The challenges of decoupling “work” and “place of work”, presented by Dion Chang. The biggest ah-ha moment of 2020 was the separation of “work” and “place of work”. It kick-started a flurry of new business trends, which are destined to forever change the workplace environment. There is (quite literally) no going back. The long touted “future of work” has been brought forward. It must be dealt with now, before the world eventually recalibrates, when the pandemic subsides. This trend briefing is specifically designed for all business leaders (CEOs to COOs), senior managers, administrators and HR practitioners who are planning for a post-pandemic world of work.

Image credit:Gizmodo/ Rawpixel

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