The Great Rejection: Why Brits no longer care about work09/07/2023
If you feel unmotivated and resentful towards work at the moment, you’re certainly not alone.
First came the Great Resignation and now it seems another work movement is brewing: the Great British Rejection.
New research has found that people in the UK are the least likely to view work as very important in their life and don’t think it should come first, compared to views in several other countries.
Nearly one-fifth of British people in the World Values Survey (WVS) said that work was not important in their life – the highest proportion among the 24 countries included.
This was especially the case with younger generations – with more than half of UK millennials saying it would be a good thing if less importance was placed on work.
So, it’s clear an apathy towards work is growing.
The pressure we previously put on achieving our dream careers or simply ‘making it’ in the world of work is waning.
‘For a long time, “hustle culture” was the prevalent attitude,’ explains Bex Spiller, a burnout, stress and overwhelm, TEDx speaker, author, and founder of The Anti-Burnout Club.
‘If you work long hours and long days, you’ll become a success. It’s something I was drawn into myself throughout most of my 20s – until I burnt out. But the rose-tinted glasses have definitely been lifted for a lot of people. What is success if we’re too exhausted and worn out to actually enjoy any of it?
‘Workplaces also capitalised on that attitude. For a long time, the wellbeing of employees was pushed to one side in favour of bigger targets and the promise of bigger bonuses to go with them. What has since happened is a whole generation of burnt out employees.
‘I think if you compare us to a lot of European countries, we’ve seen the worst of the hustle culture boom in the UK over the last decade. While countries like Italy take the whole of August off to be with their families and France have the “right to disconnect” law, the UK workforce has hustled relentlessly to breaking point and that’s why we’re seeing such a change in values now.’
Bex also believes the pandemic has played a huge role in this mindset shift.
She says: ‘People were working more hours than ever from home, not being able to switch off, and then the realisation dawned: “What am I doing this for?” Add in the cost of living crisis and many employees have become disillusioned with work entirely. “Why am I working long days and long hours for little return?”
‘When you see big companies posting even bigger profits, but many people are struggling to heat their homes in winter, it’s not surprising people are placing work low down on the priorities list.’
Bex also sheds light on why this is a growing attitude held by millennials and Gen Z, rather than older generations.
‘Millennials became the first permanently “switched-on” generation,’ she continues.
‘They were the first ones answering emails outside of work hours, turning on the laptop for some last-minute work before bed, and answering Skype calls on their wedding day (true story). Hard work didn’t just mean giving your best from 9am-5pm anymore and it quickly became exhausting.’
Bex says this is ultimately the crux of the issue – and explains these recent findings perfectly.
‘People are feeling burnt out and exhausted by years of change, anxiety and stress,’ she adds.
‘These same people are finally realising that life is for living and placing more value on the things that really matter. After all, you don’t want the only thing people remember about you when you’re gone is how many hours you worked per week.’
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