ANearly half of American workers say they “feel burnt out at work” in a recent survey by Slack, the workplace messaging company. An overwhelming majority of companies report seeing an increase in worker burnout.
Employers, academics and journalists are looking for the root causes of this phenomenon. Are the jobs harder now? Are workers softer? Are employers less supportive?
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The experts said Voice that the burnout boom is rooted in “things like too much work and not enough resources, lack of recognition for a job well done and an immeasurable paycheck”.
Workforce-related factors certainly make burnout less or more likely, but what’s missing here is an explanation of why the workplace might have changed in this way over the past few years. years. Have employers become more demanding or less concerned?
Certainly, in 2020, when workers were cooped up at home with roommates, a spouse and children, everything was different. It wouldn’t be surprising if post-pandemic, between low unemployment and high uncertainty, employers push workers to do more.
But generally people are less happy and have been for a decade.
So what’s happened over the past decade that would make people more stressed, less happy, and more exhausted? Obviously, social phenomena cannot be tied to a single cause, but I would put the root cause of worker burnout not primarily in the bosses’ expectations of work, but in the workers’ expectations of – screw work.
And no, it’s not that the workers are upset, the work is neither comfortable nor easy. It’s that workers end up looking for more meaning in a job than a job can provide.
I’m not the kind of person who believes a job is strictly transactional.
But, probably subconsciously, Millennials and Generation Z have been trying to find meaning in the workplace.
Millennials and Generation Z are much less likely to belong to an organized religion. Millennials and Generation Z are much less likely to be married or have children.
Faith and family are where most people in the history of the world have found meaning, purpose and belonging. So where do millennials and Gen Z find it?
More and more, at work.
“For the college-educated elite, work has morphed into a religious identity,” Derek Thompson explained to the Atlantic — “promising transcendence and community, but failing to deliver.”
“Labour is one of the most powerful of the new religions competing for worshippers,” Thompson wrote. Laborism is “the belief that work is not only necessary for economic production, but also the centerpiece of identity and the purpose of life; and the belief that any policy aimed at promoting human well-being must always encourage more work.
Why would workism be on the rise? Because people need to find purpose and meaning somewhere, and because people believe they are secularizing themselves by avoiding organized religion, they predictably find meaning in the part of life they don’t consider. not optional.
The problem with laborism is that it pushes you to keep working until you get an ultimate sense of work – which you never will.
So the root of millennial and Gen Z burnout is not our economy or their bosses. It is their bad religion.
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