Amid the "Great Resignation," business leaders are finding it hard to make sense of what's driving the mass exodus.

What is "The Great Resignation?"

The phrase was coined by Anthony Klotz, an organizational psychologist and professor at Texas A&M University, last May to describe the wave of people leaving their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic. It led many re-think how, where and why we work, according to CNBC Make It.

As per MIT Sloan Management Review, in an all-time record, between April and September last year, more than 24 million American employees resigned.

Anti-work subreddit

As the trend continues, the “anti-work” subreddit on Reddit has now become one of the social network’s most active pages. In October 2020, it had 180,000 users, but now it has gone up to more than 1.6 million users, reported New York Post. Reddit users share screenshots of emails and texts about leaving their jobs. But “idlers," who stay in jobs doing the absolute minimum while still getting salary, are seen as the real heroes.

Doreen Ford, the page’s moderator, said that everyone has hit their limit with the pandemic, overwork, rent payments, mortgages and "so many things with capitalism." The Boston-based 30-year-old sees nothing wrong with wanting to take a break from all that and "do less of it." Ford, who once worked in the retail sector, has been self-employed as a dog walker for the past five years.

Ford, who works about 25 hours a week, noted that the general idea behind the anti-work movement “is to reduce the coercive element of labor as much as possible by subverting capitalism." She said that the people who are active on the page often identify as communists, socialists and anarchists. Podcastquestions is one of the users who shared that they earn $80,000 annually just by taking one to two calls a week.

Employees send demanding emails to bosses

People are also sharing screenshots of their demanding emails to their bosses. One Reddit user, a technician who goes by the name willcalliv, posted screenshots of an email demanding certain things from their boss. The user wrote that their “skills are high in demand this year” and asked for a 6.8% hike, a new car with a working air conditioner, a company phone and a work week of no more than 45 hours. It's not clear if the demands made in the name of “personal growth," were met or not, but the post got support from several Redditors.

Another user, who goes by the name introductionhonest10 and works in management, also had a similar list of demands. The user proposed a 10% raise, having Monday as an optional workday for employees who are ahead on their tasks and five extra days off every year. After the proposal was accepted a few months ago, employee satisfaction had gone up, and no decline was seen in revenue.

Ford, who is also hosting a podcast while pursuing a master’s in philosophy at Boston College, said that such success stories is proof that the movement is about more than self-absorbed youngsters. She said that what people call laziness is actually individuals "reaching their limits for very good reasons that are outside of their control." Though she did admit that some are simply lazy and "just don’t want to work.”

Mass resignations and strikes connected?

Meanwhile, Rutgers professor Todd Vachon, director of the school’s Labor Education Action Research Network, said that Americans are not only seeing the mass resignation, but also a "wave of strike activity and new organizing activity among workers that have remained in their jobs." He sees a connection between the two. Vachon explained that a shortage of workers who are okay with taking up low-wage jobs empowers those in other jobs to take "bold actions to improve them with less fear of being fired or replaced.”

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