What Can Job Seekers Learn From the Antiwork Subreddit?
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Today, it’s as essential to know a company’s reputation as any other time. People want to find the right fit and don’t want to settle. Working with bosses who are controlling and appear to care only about the work was yesterday’s workplace. After decades of enduring abuse, misbehavior, and inflexibility, people are taking control of their careers. And it’s being documented on Reddit’s antiwork subreddit.
Weaknesses and indifferences in the workplace are exploited and amplified through recent events and the pandemic. The subreddit r/antiwork is a forum where participants are unashamedly calling out and documenting unsuitable behavior by their supervisors. They’re letting their terms of engagement for work be known. Participants have expressed burnout and mental health challenges due to enduring bad bosses.
What Job Seekers Will Do With the Momentum
Job seekers have a say in where and how they want to work. And there are many ways they can find out where the inadequate managers and employers are. When looking for a job, you might want to have a conversation with anyone who has documented bad behavior, incidents, and company processes at the place you’re considering. Compare what the company says about itself to the information you find out. Then weigh the differences.
The disruption of the traditional workplace is a powerful awakening in American culture. Bad leaders are often given the benefit of the doubt despite offensive behavior. Seemingly, there is not enough training to curb the mistreatment people face at work. Yet, the resilience of the rank and file employee speaks the loudest.
To focus primarily on the r/antiwork subreddit and the sensational workplace scenarios from conversations about bad workplaces and bosses is only part of the story:
- The anti-work movement isn’t about not working. People want fulfillment, safety, and flexibility. They want to work in a way that optimizes productivity for the company and themselves. That may mean flexible hours or remote work options.
- Poor supervisors aren’t just detrimental for current employees. They also affect the company. The job candidate who finds out the company has enabled a bad boss is working for a bad company.
- The power of exploiting unethical and irreverent behavior by bosses will be helpful in good and bad job markets.
Understanding the r/Antiwork Subreddit Community and Why It’s Frequently Misunderstood
Reddit is a social app and website where people post content of all kinds. Users comment and can even vote content and comments up or down. A subreddit is one of the millions of forums created by users to discuss a wide range of topics. One of them includes r/antiwork. Currently, there are approximately 1.7 million users involved in the r/antiwork subreddit. There are volunteer moderators in the forum to ensure safety among participants. Moderators help police comments to maintain the relevance of the topic. They can reprimand or expel abusive members.
Participants of r/antiwork often post conversations about work situations. These involve uncaring, unsympathetic, or incompetent supervisors. Participants also ask for workplace advice and document their job search experiences. Other social networks similarly share negative experiences. But participants of r/antiwork are encouraged to post actual text and video conversations. Users compelled by these stories of misbehaving bosses have shared them on other social networks like Twitter, where media outlets are hungry for stories related to this job market.
Anti-work statements or stories shared from r/antiwork have been misunderstood because the media misinterprets the context of the group.
Recently, a Fox News host interviewed an r/antiwork moderator and pushed the narrative that r/antiwork users were “lazy.” The Fox interview rubbed the members of the subreddit the wrong way. This resulted in the moderator being voted out of her position.
The Truth About the r/Antiwork Subreddit
Jack Kelly, Senior Careers Contributor at Forbes, recently brought clarity to the r/antiwork subreddit efforts. “All they are asking for is a fair chance to find a decent job with the potential of advancing. They’d also like to be paid fairly and treated with dignity and respect. For many Americans, it’s not easy to find this, unfortunately.” The traditional American narrative about working hard to achieve the “American Dream” is disrupted by the group’s name only.
The traditional workplace does not work for millions of Americans even as we share “being a proud American.” We all want fairness, dignity, and more time with loved ones. We choose different paths to that goal. But do we understand the many who want to enjoy what they do AND how it’s done? When someone reads the conversations between resigned workers and bosses, not only are readers immediately outraged, but they also relate.
In these times, bad leaders are still heralded as heroes for their drill sergeant-like behavior. They’re praised for getting results associated with profit. When the real estate company Better.com’s CEO fired 900 employees over Zoom, some celebrated the CEO’s actions. Many others were outraged. Any job seeker looking into Better.com and deciding whether they should work for that company has enough vital intel. It would be valid to consider the company culture as much or more than the salary. They decide whether it’s worth it to work there. Keep in mind, there are influential people who praised the CEO’s behavior in the Zoom call and saw it as good leadership.
What Is Not Said Is Viable Information, Too
Recently, a Honeywell recruiter decided to share on LinkedIn that a new hire was offered a lot less than what was budgeted for the position. In a follow-up post, the recruiter claims she intended to be helpful. But the post from the recruiter trying to explain her actions was met with skepticism.
While these posts hurt her reputation, a job seeker may want to look deeply into the company’s culture and its other recruiters. Is there possibly a subculture where the recruiter’s behavior is encouraged? Let’s say you’re interested in a company. You see on a social network that the company’s recruiters or hiring manager acted unethically or wrongfully.
Here are a few things you can do to look into the incident further:
- Read the comments in the thread.
- You can also do a Google search to see separate conversations elsewhere that involve employees.
- Search each social network to see additional comments about the incidents.
- Use LinkedIn to contact one or more employees to see if they’ve experienced or heard of others who were similarly wronged.
- Set up Google Alerts to see if this incident or story lands in national media.
The Good Is As Important As the Bad
A few days prior to the Honeywell incident, a recruiter from another company had shared on Twitter about a new hire that would be receiving an offer for considerably more than what she had asked for. That tweet contrasts the differences between the two recruiters and companies. She said at the end of her tweet, “We are paying your worth over here.” We can argue about pay and whether the budget was exhausted. But, the tweet was well worded. Other users cheered and shared her words.
Positive posts are as good intel as harmful posts. Although people generally take good posts and claims at face value, they need the due diligence of a job seeker who will invest time in their latest career move. The same strategies and research to validate negative postings need to be done for the good ones. The adage, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is,” applies. Talk to employees — both current and past — to see if there is a pattern. An organized approach saves lots of time and emotional energy. The key is to make an informed decision.
We Can’t Ignore Burnout
There is evidence burnout is an epidemic. Leaving a horrible boss is the remedy for most people. Sure there are ways to battle burnout, such as vacations, sabbaticals, and working remotely. But, bad supervisors encroach more than scheduled work hours. They make maintaining your work-life balance challenging and sometimes impossible to keep work and personal life separate.
A recent survey of 2,000 people reported that 48% of employees are considering leaving their jobs within a year. 63% of them are because of a bad boss. Since it’s at the forefront of many people’s minds, it’s easy to look at online discussions like r/antiwork as a way to validate what they’re feeling. Some are simply unloading their frustrations. But it can be an informative hub.
Participants of the r/antiwork subreddit are probably active on other networks but collectively resonate with one another. It disrupts the blind belief in the “American way” of enduring and forgiving bad boss behavior, unfair treatment, and unacceptable or inflexible scheduling.
The basic tenant of working with others is treating each other the way we want to be treated. The perceived negative comments are important information. And much of it is valid. They provide courage for job seekers to take control of their careers and insight into how to get where they want to be.