If an employee seems disengaged at work, they could be suffering from ‘resenteeism’.

This happens when an employee stays in a job despite being unhappy – they actively dislike their job, feel frustrated with their work or employer, or feel trapped in their role.

Resenteeism is not to be confused with quiet quitting – when employees take control of their work life balance and push back on additional tasks and responsibilities outside of their job description.

Both concepts are a result of workplace dissatisfaction, however staff with resenteeism are perhaps more vocal about their dislike with their role, employer or work environment.

Someone experiencing resenteeism may continue to be productive, which can be difficult to spot yet can have a damaging impact on employee morale and workplace culture.

What can cause resenteeism?

Last year, Gallup’s State of the Workplace Report 2022 found that only 21% of UK workers were engaged in their work, which could be due to worries and anxieties around the rising cost of living, job security or lack of better job options.

Over the last few years there has been a big shift in how people view their work, with many people re-evaluating their work, priorities and what they want to do. Ultimately it led to employees leaving the workforce in droves – what we know now as the Great Resignation.

Some employees, however, didn’t quit and stayed in their job, which leads to a slippery slope resulting in them not only deprioritising their job but resenting it and feeling disengaged and unhappy at work.

How to spot resenteeism:

Some warning signs for line managers to look out for include:

Change in attitude or behaviour

If an employee who once seemed happy in their role begins to show more negative behaviour or attitudes to their work, they may have become resentful of their role. Of course, we can all experience the odd bad day, but if negativity and frustration are an everyday occurrence, there may be something more to it.

Lack of enthusiasm

An employee who’s resentful of their role will unlikely feel enthused about new projects or opportunities within the business. If someone turns down chances to develop their career or take on new challenges it could be because they resent being there.

Emotionally distance from the job

Along with not feeling motivated, an employee showing signs of resenteeism may stop caring about their work, their role or responsibilities. They may not join in with the office banter or engage in meetings.

Decline in quality of work

A more obvious sign of an employee suffering with resenteeism is a drop in quality of their work. Those who resent their work are unlikely to maintain the high standards of someone who’s happy and engaged in their role.

How to deal with resenteeism:

Communication is key for dealing with resenteeism. It is important to act on any early signs, as this will be beneficial for the employee, wider staff and the business.

If you believe someone in your team is suffering from resenteeism, then talk to them, listen and sympathise with their problems. You can do this by asking open questions during one-to-ones, such as review meetings. Most importantly, it is vital to show that you are genuine in your concern and show them you care.

Identify with your employees’ potential solutions, as well as asking them what they need to feel fulfilled and motivated at work.

How to prevent resenteeism:

Many of these factors are outside of an employer’s control. However, here are a few tips to help reduce the chances of resenteeism:

  • Encourage an environment where employees feel comfortable to voice their concerns and opinions. This can include talking to staff about what matters to them at work, and making these changes to show you value their feedback.
  • Encourage people to take annual leave, so staff can recharge and reset.
  • Support struggling staff with information and resources about mental health.
  • Provide opportunities for professional development, such as training courses and clear paths for advancement.
  • Show your appreciation by rewarding your employees and recognising their achievements.

Ultimately, it is important to identify and tackle signs of resenteeism as soon as possible and make sure employees feel valued, supported and appreciated.

If you have any questions about resenteeism or would like advice around employee engagement, get in touch with our team at [email protected]