What is Resenteeism? Quiet Quitting’s Moody Successor

As workers are grow increasingly resentful towards their jobs, many are no longer staying quiet.

As employees continue to contend with job insecurity and low levels of satisfaction, a new workplace trend has come into vogue: resenteeism.

Unlike presenteeism — the practice of showing up to work despite being unwell or unproductive — resenteeism drops the facade of being content with your job and describes a more active response to workplace frustrations.

Due to its associations with checking out and doing the bare minimum, the term has been dubbed the natural successor to quiet quitting. And much like the hushed phenomenon, it can cost businesses dearly if left unaddressed.

For employers worried about the spread of resenteeism in their workplace, and for workers experiencing it themselves, this article dissects the employment term and its common origins, before offering some tangible ways to address staff disengagement head-on.

What Is Resenteeism? 

If you thought that employment buzzwords would be left in 2022, you’d be wrong. The business software company RotaCloud has recently affixed a name to a longstanding workplace trend that’s been hampering productivity and profitability for years.

Resenteeism is the shiny new term that describes remaining in a job while being fundamentally unhappy. Sound familiar? The phenomenon draws many parallels to presenteeism, which describes showing up for work to keep up appearances but getting very little done due to sickness or emotional challenges.

Both concepts are born from workplace dissatisfaction and anxieties over job security, but unlike presenteeism, resenteeism describes a less guarded expression of similar frustrations. Resentful employees tend to be more active about their concerns, and put simply, are no longer afraid of hiding them.

Resenteeism is closely tied to quiet quitting too, the term which rose to notoriety in 2022 thanks to apps like TikTok and Instagram. Just like quiet quitting, the concept describes the experience of employees that are choosing to check out before burning out. However, unlike quiet quitting, which by nature is a passive act, resentful staffers aren’t afraid to make some noise.

Why Are Workers Fed Up?

Workplace dissatisfaction is not a new phenomenon. However, recent research suggests the issue is getting worse than ever, with a Gallup survey revealing that only 32% of workers are actively engaged by their work, down from 36% in 2020. Another 2022 survey by UKG found that 45% of US workers wouldn’t wish their job on their worst enemy. But how has the situation gotten so dire?

According to RotaCloud, the Great Resignation is likely to play a major role. After large swathes of employees ditched their jobs in favor of new horizons in the wake of Covid-19, skeleton teams up and down the country were left behind to pick up the pieces. Combine this with growing fears over job security born from surging layoffs and an impending recession, and it’s no surprise that concepts like resenteeism are catching speed like never before.

But if you’ve spotted workers growing unsatisfied, or even resentful, in your workplace, stay rest assured — there are steps you can take to curve the trend.

What Can Employers Do to Tackle Resenteeism?

Spotting the early signs of resenteeism is essential if you’re committed to stamping it out early on. Not sure what to look out for? According to RotaCloud, some red flags to watch out for are workers that are displaying a notable lack of enthusiasm, a change in attitude or behavior, or a significant decline in their quality of work. If you’ve noted one or more of these signs, it’s a clear signal that action needs to be taken.

To prevent workers from feeling even more disillusioned, it’s important for managers to maintain clear lines of communication and check in with workers on a one-on-one basis if possible. These communications should be tactful and human and should give workers opportunities to express their concerns.

In addition to welcoming feedback, employers should do what’s in their power to improve the daily experience of their workforce. This can take many forms, including embracing flexible working, monitoring workloads to reduce cases of burnout, offering chances to progress where possible, and fostering an environment where discussions about mental health are welcome.

These strategies don’t need to cost businesses an arm and a leg, either. But even if these safeguards require financial investments, it’ll be nothing compared to the cost of a resentful workforce.

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Written by:
Isobel O'Sullivan (BSc) is a senior writer at Tech.co with over four years of experience covering business and technology news. Since studying Digital Anthropology at University College London (UCL), she’s been a regular contributor to Market Finance’s blog and has also worked as a freelance tech researcher. Isobel’s always up to date with the topics in employment and data security and has a specialist focus on POS and VoIP systems.
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