The antiwork movement is a social and political force rapidly gaining momentum. And it’s not just disgruntled millennials who are driving it. People of all ages and walks of life are beginning to question the value of work in our society.
There are many reasons why people are turning against work. For some, it’s simply because they’re tired of their employers exploiting them. They’re sick of working long hours for little pay, with no job security or benefits.
Others see work as a form of oppression, something trapping us in a cycle of poverty and insecurity. They argue that work is the root cause of many of our society’s ills, from inequality to environmental destruction.
Whatever the reason, it’s clear that the anti-work movement is in motion. And as it grows, it’s starting to impact the way we think about work.
What is the Antiwork Subreddit?
The antiwork subreddit is a community on the popular online forum site Reddit. The group explores and discusses ideas about eliminating or minimizing the amount of work you need to do for a fulfilling life.
Reddit users weary with their traditional career paths made the antiwork subreddit. They wanted to explore alternatives that could lead to a more meaningful and enjoyable way of living. This group doesn’t revolve around chasing paper and power. Instead, it prioritizes meaningful relationships, creativity, self-expression, and personal growth.
In particular, Doreen Ford, a moderator of the subreddit, was critical of the common idea modern society perpetuates. Society today tells people they must sacrifice their happiness and well-being to contribute by working.
You can pursue hobbies or artistic endeavors outside of work hours. You can volunteer or take time for essential self-care practices. There are many different ways to reduce your workload without sacrificing the quality of your existence.
Regardless of individual opinions, the antiwork subreddit encourages discussion around an increasingly important topic. It poses us to question how our work impacts our lives and whether it’s necessary to live a meaningful life.
Since the pandemic, about five million people have left the workforce. Taking off with those five million people is the antiwork subreddit’s followers count. It went up from 180,000 in October 2020 to more than 1.9 million followers today. It’s also credited for fueling the Great Resignation.
Are you worried about your employee turnover rate? Have you noticed it’s been harder and harder to keep the talent you need for your team?
What Do Anti-Work People Want?
The people who involve themselves in the anti-work movement want different things. Some want to be able to live without a job or at least work less and have more leisure time. Others desire a shorter workweek for all workers. That means having four days of work and three days off.
There is also the demand for all workers to earn a living wage while working fewer hours. And then the demand for the, you know, having-a-livable-minimum-wage argument. Then some just want to be able to create art, music, or literature. Particularly, they want to make ends meet without needing some kind of day job.
Some people in the anti-work movement don’t like their jobs but can’t afford to be without one, so they want jobs to be less demanding and more fun.
Some anti-workers are caretakers, whether they’re taking care of children, sick family members, or disabled friends. They want society to value their work more and give them the resources they need to do it without burnout.
Some complain about capitalism and the way it commodifies everything, including our time and labor. They want to overthrow the system and replace it with something else that values human needs over profits.
All these different desires come from a universal understanding that the current system is not working for most of us. We work long hours for little pay, with few benefits and little job security. Life this way isn’t sustainable, and it’s not good for our mental or physical health.
Why Are Most Millennials So Unhappy at Work?
Millennials are fed up with traditional work environments. They’re unfulfilling and disengaging, making millennials eager to leave their jobs. And that’s not just my opinion. Check the data for yourself. A 2019 Deloitte Millennial Survey says 49 percent of millennials would leave their job in two years.
It’s not solely millennials, though. More and more people are beginning to feel the same way about work. So, what’s driving this trend?
Several factors are at play, but one of the biggest is the changing nature of work itself. Technology has made it possible for us to work from anywhere, at any time. It’s led to a drastic increase in how many people work remotely or telecommute.
At the same time, the traditional nine-to-five workday is getting old. Many of us have flexible hours and the ability to take work home with us. That blurs the lines between our work life and our personal life.
Adding to that, most of us are living paycheck to paycheck. Tacking on to these factors is unsupportive employers and an insufficient social safety net for health care and retirement. It’s no wonder that so many people are unhappy at work. All these things tie together to create the perfect storm for employee burnout.
Why Do Business Owners Need to Start Paying Attention?
Now more than ever, employers are in danger of losing their best employees to burnout. Employees who overwork and feel underappreciated will start looking for new opportunities elsewhere. And once they leave your company, you’ll have a hard time finding someone else to replace them.
And it’ll cost you more money. Replacing an employee is two times as expensive as retaining them. That’s just one of several reasons you want to keep your employee turnover rate low.
Employee turnover can also be a major morale killer in your workplace. When hardworking employees start to leave, it can cause a chain reaction of others following suit.
That’s why employers need to pay attention to the signs that show an employee is burnt out and overworked. Employers also need to take care of their employees’ working needs. Because when people can meet their basic needs, they’re more productive and happier in their work.
Here’s how else companies should react to the anti-work movement. And below are more reasons why business owners must change their tune toward employees by meeting their basic working needs:
The work world is evolving: Business owners need to realize that the way we work is changing. Technology has made it possible for us to work from anywhere, at any time. That means that traditional nine-to-five workdays are no longer feasible for many.
Employees need more flexibility: Companies need to give their employees more wiggle room. Many of us have families and other commitments outside of work, and we need to be able to balance our work life with our personal life.
Employees need to know their expectations: Set clear expectations about what you want from each employee, like their work quality and availability. Also make it clear that you’re not going to micromanage them, and they are free to work on their terms.
Employees want education: Invest in training or other means of professional development for your employees. They’ll feel like they are constantly learning and growing in their careers. And the personal growth might even lead to professional growth.
Employees want appreciation: Employers need to create a culture of appreciation, where employees feel valued for their contributions. You can do this by publicly expressing gratitude for achievements or writing personalized thank-you notes to employees. You can also conduct a team-wide survey, so your workers know you’re well aware of their ideas and concerns.
Your employees aren’t robots: Employees aren’t machines that can just work, work, and work without taking breaks. They need time to relax and rejuvenate, or they’ll burn out quickly.
Bottom line: Businesses need to start paying attention to the needs of their employees if they want to retain them. You want to retain them because otherwise, you’ll be losing money and talent.
Strange enough to say, the anti-work movement can teach businesses a thing or two about keeping their employees content. Because sticking that smile to their faces is one way to get them to stick around as employees.
However, the anti-work community is about more than just workers being unhappy with their jobs. It’s about a growing dissatisfaction with the traditional nine-to-five work week and the belief that there are better ways to live and work.
For businesses, this means that they need to pay attention to the needs of their employees and find ways to make work more enjoyable.
Do you need help honing in on your employees’ happiness?