What is Resenteeism?

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First came the trends of “great resignation” and “quiet quitting”. Now, the workplace is battling “resenteeism”, a new workplace phenomenon that causes disruption and risks destroying previously harmonious teams.

It’s a workplace phenomenon we’re familiar with, a once high-performing, highly-engaged colleague who has become easily irritated, quick to complain about their workload and projects and is the first to share their gripes about, quite frankly, everything.

Known as ‘resenteeism’ (a phrase first coined by RotaCloud), it comes off the back of pandemic-induced work trends. With workplace experts believing it’s on the rise as burnt-out workers with reduced resilience return to the office.

So what exactly is resenteeism, and how can the growing issue be tackled effectively to ensure the return of a productive, harmonious workplace that satisfies employees and employers?

What is resenteeism?

While there is rarely a singular reason for resentment, there appears to be a common thread of feeling wronged or mistreated in the workplace.

Let’s be honest, resentment can spring from countless places and experiencing feelings of frustration and disappointment is normal, it’s only when the feelings become too overwhelming that they can contribute to resentment. On reflection, it appears that burnout is a major contributing factor to resenteeism.

Another contributing factor to resenteeism is the concern over the cost-of-living crisis. Many people are more reluctant to leave their current role due to the fear of the unknown and worries of not being able to pay their bills if they leave, which leaves them in a position of further resenting their job.

Can employees stop feeling resentment?

While it’s easy to think the only solution to an unhappy work environment is booking a holiday or hunting for a new job, but surely, it’s better to take steps towards tackling resentment. Ask yourself, what is the cause? Then recognise the problem and take responsibility for it.

To alleviate tension, you need to focus on the underlying causes, finding ways to manage stress, build resilience and seek support when needed. These will all contribute to a decrease in resentment.

Implications of resenteeism

Aside from giving your manager the impression that you are no longer committed to your role or the company’s success, the wider impacts of resenteeism include upsetting other colleagues and contributing to broader dysfunction and dissatisfaction.

Resentment can be contagious. Decreased team performances and concentration, negative impacts on focus and engagement, and a spread in emotional exhaustion and reduced energy levels.

How to approach this subject?

A workplace that promotes psychological safety and well-being will generally make employees feel more confident to share their feelings. It’s vital that managers communicate without judgment and with a willingness to listen.

Employees should also prepare for a conversation by ensuring the points being raised are presented in a constructive way that can be seen as feedback rather than simply having a whinge or a moan. Avoiding emotional and blaming language contributes to a conversation that has a better chance of ‘being heard’ and acknowledged.

Finally, be prepared to be involved in creating and working towards a solution. Don’t expect others to fix this for you.

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