- The anti-work movement is centered around the idea that society pressures people to put an unhealthy emphasis and importance on work.
- Poor working conditions, pandemic-related exhaustion, and momentum from the ‘Great Resignation’ have all fueled the anti-work sentiment that is gaining popularity.
- The anti-work movement is the antithesis of hustle culture, but for most non-wealthy people a work-free life is not a viable option.
Coinciding with the Great Resignation is the “anti-work movement.”
This movement has particularly been popular on the social media website Reddit, where the r/antiwork subreddit has gained over 864,000 members who are interested in “unemployment for all, not just the rich.”
This subreddit dedicated to “those who want to end work, are curious about ending work, want to get the most out of a work-free life” has more than tripled its subscribers since March 2020.
What exactly is the anti-work movement?
The anti-work sentiment ponders how a work-free life might be achievable.
Supporting the anti-work idea doesn’t mean that people don’t want to make money, but the movement does explore the challenges that societal standards have placed on workers, and it recommends how workplace culture can be altered to better support people who are burnt out.
From unscrupulous bosses, being overworked and underappreciated, exposed to poor treatment and toxic or threatening behavior in the workplace, workers are beginning to want something better for themselves.
Recently, the four-day workweek has gained popularity. In fact, 74% of surveyed office workers said they support a 4-day workweek. With technological advances, the amount of time we spend working should decrease.
Why is the anti-work sentiment becoming popular now?
Having worked consistently during the global pandemic, people are now searching for a change of lifestyle, and a healthier, happier way of working for a living.
In March, a study by Microsoft found that over 41% of the global workforce were considering leaving their employer this year, and 54% of workers said they felt overworked while 39% said they felt exhausted.
“Those who are quitting their jobs are, for the most part, neither lazy nor looking to be unemployed, they are simply looking for kinder, more supportive employers and a better work-life balance,” said Forbes writer Barnaby Lashbrooke.
Millennials and Gen Z are leading the anti-work movement as many of these people are choosing to leave the grind of stressful jobs in favor of work-life balance. This may explain why in April over 4 million Americans quit their jobs. In June, another 3.9 million people quit.
The number of job openings in the U.S. economy jumped to 10.1 million in June – the highest on record, according to the Labor Department.
To survive, most people have to start working before they turn 20 and continue working well into their 60s. It seems workers are beginning to question this aspect of life, and for supporters of the anti-work movement, not spending the majority of one’s life on a job that brings no joy is the goal.
People are now quitting their jobs and going on strike in response to this sentiment.
Employees from companies such as John Deere Co. and Kellogg Co. are currently on strike.
Last week over 10,000 employees with John Deere walked out after receiving their updated employee contracts.
While going on strike may help increase wages and benefits at work, many workers are turning to an alternative solution: quitting.
Quitting isn’t an option for everyone
The reality is that the anti-work movement isn’t for everyone – we can’t all afford to just quit because we don’t like our working conditions.
If you want to join the anti-work movement and build a successful career on your own terms, it’s important to create a solid career transition plan before you hand in your resignation letter.
If workers are tired of the way they’re currently working, they should not be afraid to ask for what they want; companies are struggling to hire right now are most likely open to providing for workers’ needs.
Quitting is not the only option. These days, many companies are very motivated to retain their employees and are increasingly open to flexible working.
The anti-work movement is the antithesis of hustle culture
The anti-work movement is the exact opposite of hustle culture, which creates the assumption that the only value we have as human beings is our productivity capability and ability to make money.
Hustle culture is the social pressure to constantly be working harder, faster, and stronger. The idolization of workaholism and the mindset that you should always be working and being productive has adverse mental and physical health effects.
In our society, maximum productivity is valued above all else – even if you never get a moment to relax. The commitment to long hours of hard work to earn success has been widely celebrated over the last several years, but that may be changing now.
Proponents of the anti-work movement believe that ending work isn’t about not being productive and simply resorting to being on welfare, but the idea stems from the idea that work doesn’t have to be someone’s entire life.
Heidi Shierholz, president of the Economic Policy Institute, pointed out that this movement and change is long overdue.
“We’ve seen four decades of rising inequality and wage stagnation, with working people not getting their fair share of economic growth. That has laid the stage for this,” said Shierholz.