The rise of anti-work & the Great Resignation
“Why doesn’t anyone want to work anymore?”
Despite the off-putting tone, team leaders, hiring supervisors, and executive-level managers ask this question more often lately. In the popular subreddit “r/antiwork,” over 1.7 million active users share personal anecdotes expressing their displeasure with terrible working conditions, lack of work/life balance, and burnout every day.
So what's emboldened employees to take their labour elsewhere? Why are thousands quitting their current jobs in what statisticians call "The Great Resignation?" Why is “anti-work”, formerly a controversial concept, becoming more mainstream?
Should your organisation worry about The Great Resignation?
The pandemic has hurt productivity in recent years. People brought their work into the home blurring the hazy line between work and life. Now, employees are overwhelmed, overworked, and burnt out.
Personio, a HR company, surveyed employees and HR decision-makers in the UK & Ireland and came up with an estimate of £8.176 billion in pandemic-related productivity losses. What's worse, mass resignations could double that cost to £16.96 billion.
Anti-work statistics: company-wide resignation at a glance.
- 45% of HR decision-makers worry that employees will leave once the job market improves. (source)
- 55% of private-sector managers say it's harder to find staff now than before the pandemic. (source)
- 45% of managers say they accepted more voluntary resignations in 2021 than in 2019. (source)
- Only 26% of organisations prioritise talent retention. (source)
As the pandemic progresses, employees grow weary and restless in their jobs, a trend that only gets worse. HR professionals predict another great resignation soon and managers struggle to replace workers. Even so, barely a quarter of organisations invest in keeping their top talent around.
When worsening work/life balance, benefit reductions, and a lack of appreciation add up, employees lose loyalty to their companies and prioritise their well-being. They find something better and resign.
Why are employees drawn to the anti-work movement?
Dwindling work/life balance, toxic workplace cultures, pay freezes/cuts, and poor management are all familiar pains for anti-work supporters. Not only that, but the switch to ‘temporary’ remote work during the lockdown seemed to prove that many could do their jobs from home - saving many from the long commute, childcare costs, and more.
|Anti-work isn't||Anti-work is|
|Anti-job or anti-labour||Self-organising & collective action|
|Against payment in exchange for effort||The ability to labour only as needed|
|Against any productivity||Seeking a better quality of life|
What can you do to keep anti-work walkouts and resignations at bay?
The thought of a great resignation might worry managers and team leaders, but you can show your employees a better company culture before they start thinking about moving on.
Offer flexible work schedules
We've seen a lot of back and forth since the pandemic started, making planning for the future tricky. Going back to "normal" after working from home for so long feels like more of a hindrance than a benefit.
Consider your employees' need for flexibility and extend fully remote or hybrid working options. With more control of their time, they’ll have more work/life freedom to do more with their schedule.
Axis Tip: Remote working can boost productivity, but your team needs easy-to-use, reliable, and functional software. You’ll run Axis alongside Zoom, without any external downloads, so everyone can join and collaborate virtually anywhere.
Create a safe working environment
A healthy workplace should allow workers to openly discuss problems and frustrations. Whether their concerns fall into work- or organisational-related areas, every team member deserves a secure outlet free from retaliation or belittlement.
Axis Tip: In Share, you and your team break the ice to build trust and set the conversation’s tone. Templates like “Finish the sentence” and “Orthodoxies” provide two unique, pressure-free ways to learn more about each workshop participant.
Choose productive internal resources
Overloading your team with unnecessary tools will hurt productivity. Personio’s study found that 44% of HR decision-makers are using more digital tools and software (somewhere between 6-8 tools in total).
In their opinion, this disrupts the workflow, slows down processes, and causes delays. Keep an eye on your company's tech stack and use only user-friendly software that makes a positive impact.
Axis Tip: With a retrospective workshop template, analyse your organisational bottlenecks and evaluate the best solutions together. You’ll encourage your team to speak up about the company’s strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement.
Beware Zoom burnout
During the week, online meetings become exhausting—especially if they don’t achieve any goals by the end. Limit required on-screen time and make every meeting minute count.
Axis Tip: Axis' native design thinking framework engages your team at every step. Customise your next session with a proven structure that always produces a clear action plan.
Talk to your team
Understanding what's going on in your organisation requires listening to your employees and learning their perspectives. Support transparent communication and unbiased evaluation with anonymous sharing methods like polls, surveys, or independent research interviews.
Axis Tip: We’re the only meeting collaboration tool that provides built-in anonymity for more thoughtful ideation from the whole team. Get to know your company culture and how your employees feel about their role in it.
With mass resignations and the anti-work movement on the rise, now is the best time to think about talent retention. Start your risk-free Axis trial to gather meaningful feedback and show your team how much you value their insight and labour.