Learning & Development

The Anti-Work Movement

There’s been very little good labor market news for employers over the last couple of years. Some observers’ prognosis is that there’s a growing movement that’s decidedly anti-work. That’s right: There is increasing support for the idea that even if someone is available to work and competent for available roles, it’s not necessarily worth their while to participate in the labor force.

What’s Driving the ‘Anti-Work’ Movement?

“Two years into the pandemic, employees across the globe are tired,” explains Brian O’Connor in an article for BBC Worklife. “Poor mental health and burnout are common, particularly among low-wage and essential workers.” After months, and now years, of uncertainty, it’s not surprising that some are questioning the role work can, and should, play in their lives.

“Record numbers of workers are leaving jobs in search of better options,” O’Connor adds. And some aren’t simply looking for another job; they’re choosing not to have any job at all.   

On the surface, these decisions may seem to primarily impact employers. O’Connor suggests, though, that the impact may be more wide-reaching. The anti-work movement, he says, “seeks to do away with the economic order that underpins the modern workplace.”

A Movement to Upend the World of Work

Anti-work proponents believe that many jobs are unnecessary and simply “enforce wage slavery and deprive workers of the full value of their output,” O’Connor says. They don’t think, though, that there will be no work. Instead, movement members believe that people should work only as much as they need to and not work “longer hours to create excess capital or goods.”

Now, despite the alarmist proposition of a growing anti-work movement, it is still relatively small. Nevertheless, it carries symbolic importance as yet another sign of how skeptical the labor pool has become of available employment and how hard employers need to work in order to meet their staffing needs.

Are there signs of an anti-work movement in your workplace?

Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.