“People don’t hate Mondays, they hate the entire week.”
Many have probably heard or read this saying somewhere. Some may even recognize themselves in it. Whether meant as a joke or not – in the end, such statements reflect dissatisfaction with one’s own working conditions.
In recent years, a movement has developed in the USA, which at first seems like an embodiment of the saying. The terms #AntiWork, #GreatResignation, and #BigQuit gather people who turn their backs on their actual jobs and oppose the supposed life goal of the best possible career and the “always on, always higher”.
Trending #AntiWork movement
Although hashtags have also been appearing more and more in our domestic social channels lately, the origins of the movement lie in the USA, birthplace: the online platform Reddit in 2013. Today, almost ten years later, the subreddit movement records almost 1.7 million users (as of 01/28/22).
In the USA, the social media movement also wants to point out social imbalances. The full title of the subreddit is “Antiwork: Unemployment for all, not just the rich!“. In the associated forum, the sometimes poor working conditions or wages are discussed, classic jobs are questioned or mutual encouragement is given to no longer work in them and instead to become self-employed or to create more free time.
As reported by the “Financial Times”, the number of members has risen from 180,000 in October 2020 to almost 1.7 million users in January 2022. Due to the parallels in time and the professional insecurity caused by the consequences of the corona pandemic, they attribute the increase in popularity precisely to the pandemic.
Record number of terminations
This is now partly reflected in official data collection. According to the US Department of Labor, 21.3 million people voluntarily resigned from their jobs between July and November 2021. In November 2021 alone, there were 4.5 million layoffs, the highest since the ministry began keeping records in 2001.
But of course, the number is not only due to the anti-labor movement and these millions of layoffs would mean the same number of newly unemployed. According to the Financial Times, the data shows that many workers were likely to leave their jobs after receiving a better offer. However, the overall employment rate has nevertheless fallen to a value below the level before the pandemic.
This is why the movement is now also being noticed and taken seriously outside of the social media world. In November 2021, for example, investment bank Goldman Sachs warned that the anti-labor movement posed a “long-term risk” to US labor market participation.
The changing world of work
Of course, such values always depend on the location of the survey and could be completely different outside of a job platform. Nevertheless, the phenomenon of “COVID clarity” is now also occupying other organizations. A recently presented preliminary forecast for 2022 by the International Labor Organization (ILO) makes it clear that the international labor market is still suffering from the consequences of the corona pandemic, global unemployment is still above the level before the COVID-19 pandemic and the recovery of the according to the ILO until at least 2023.
In addition, according to ILO boss Guy Ryder, the pandemic has increased the desire of numerous employees to change jobs. The phenomenon is referred to as “COVID clarity”, according to the ILO boss. He also points out that the pandemic has made it clear to people that their work is not meeting their expectations or that they are not getting the recognition they want.
Many people are not actively looking for work for these and other reasons. The true number of unemployed is therefore certainly higher than official statistics suggest, Ryder said. According to Ryder, this has a particular impact on individual sectors such as care, retail, or gastronomy.
Even though the #AntiWork movement has not made it to Europe yet, it still reveals that the last few years have left their mark on the future of work. Along with the concept of digital nomad lifestyle, the possibility of remote working, i.e. the possibility of working from anywhere, of “workstation”, i.e. combining work and vacation, or the increasingly common desire for a 4-day week are trends that result from this.
These trends are therefore definitely a sign that a little #AntiWork attitude can also be noticed in this country. And that #AntiWork is not necessarily to be equated with a refusal to work, but also with the desire for more balance in life.
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