What Is Resenteeism?

Robin Madell

One of the top 10 workplace trends of 2023 on TikTok is “resenteeism,” according to project management software provider Workamajig. This term is a play on another workplace term, “presenteeism,” which is when employees show up to their jobs, but only to be visibly there for their manager rather than to engage fully.

Trends like resenteeism have emerged as a response to the “hustle culture,” which glorified overworking, said Esther Cohen, director of marketing at Workamajig, in a statement. “These new trends are now most commonly seen among younger workers who are increasingly prioritizing work-life balance over traditional career ambitions and demanding more autonomy, control and flexibility, aside from more pay and better benefits,” Cohen said. The Workamajig data analyzed TikTok hashtag trends as of May 22, 2023.

What Is Resenteeism?

If you don’t want to stay in your job but aren’t financially able to leave it, you might find yourself practicing “resenteeism.” In employer job markets, employees are more likely to display resenteeism since they don’t expect to easily find another job if they quit.

When you stay in a job you aren’t happy with, it can create major problems for you at work, according to Marc Cenedella, founder of Leet Resumes and the career site Ladders. “It seems there are cutesy phrases to describe everything in the workplace these days – but there is nothing cute about this,” Cenedella said in an email. “Just like in other relationships, workplace resentment corrodes relationships.”

What Are Signs of Resenteeism?

Resenteeism in the workplace can cause problems for employers and employees. When you resent having to do your job and feel like you have no options, you can’t be engaged or excited about your role.

From an employer’s perspective, having people who are mentally and emotionally checked out during work hours means the job doesn’t get done well or at all.

“Productivity plummets,” Cenedella said. He added that in addition to a negative attitude and general lack of enthusiasm, employers will notice more concrete signs of resenteeism that include showing up late or skipping out early, missing days and performance problems. There can also be more subtle signals. “For example, when a formerly enthusiastic team member stops showing company branding on things like their computer sticker, water bottle or shirt, you likely have resenteeism brewing,” Cenedella said. “If they’re passing on company events they used to attend, that’s another warning sign.”

Why Do People Experience Resenteeism?

To understand resenteeism in the workplace, it helps to first recognize what causes resentment in general. Cenedella points out that in most contexts – including work, home or school — resentment grows from feeling undervalued or unappreciated.

“At work, it can emerge when an employee feels stuck without any opportunity for advancement,” he said. “Poor management, and inadequate pay and benefits, can also contribute.”

How to Overcome Resenteeism as an Employee

If you feel resentful about needing to stay in your job and want to change your current pattern of resenteeism, you can take steps to reverse it. If you can pinpoint the reasons you’re unhappy, according to Cenedella, then you can discuss them with a manager who might be able to help you work on solutions. “For example, if you’re not feeling challenged, a supervisor might be able to work you into more complex projects,” he said.

But what if working with your current management team on the problem seems impossible?

Cenedella suggests that it’s fair to then permit yourself to look for a job that’s a better fit. “Just make sure that while you are in your current role, you overcome the challenges to do your best with a positive attitude,” he said. “Many professional fields are small. You don’t want to be labeled as a negative person and you never know whose path will cross with yours again in the future.”

This blog originally appeared at U.S. News on January 4, 2023.

About the Author: Robin Madell began writing for U.S. News & World Report’s On Careers section in 2013, with a focus on productivity, work-life balance, stress management and women’s leadership.

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Madeline Messa

Madeline Messa is a 3L at Syracuse University College of Law. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism. With her legal research and writing for Workplace Fairness, she strives to equip people with the information they need to be their own best advocate.