What is Resenteeism and How Does it Impact Workplace Productivity?

bored employee starring away in the office symbolising resenteeism

In this article, we'll break the concept of resenteeism in simple terms so you can understand what resenteeism is, its causes, signs, and how it differs from absenteeism.

What is resenteeism?

Resenteeism is when employees show up to work physically, but mentally, they're elsewhere. They might feel fundamentally unhappy with their job, silently resenting it. It's like they're on autopilot, doing the bare minimum, and not feeling valued.

Think of it as a quiet quitting, where employees stay in their jobs but actively resent being there. This workplace trend is especially prevalent among Gen Z employees, who prioritize work-life balance and professional development.

Unlike presenteeism, where employees come to work even when they're sick, resenteeism is about being present but mentally checked out.

Differentiating resenteeism from presenteeism

Resenteeism and absenteeism are related but different. Absenteeism is when employees are physically absent from work, like taking sick days. Resenteeism, on the other hand, is when employees are physically present but mentally checked out. While presenteeism might mean employees working when they should be resting due to illness, resenteeism is about employees who may look busy but are disengaged and unhappy.

Causes of resenteeism

1. Health-related factors:

Sometimes, employee dissatisfaction and mental health issues can lead to resenteeism. When employees feel unfairly treated or undervalued, they might start mentally withdrawing from their tasks. Employers can combat this by offering mental health support and fostering open communication.

2. Job-related factors:

Job insecurity is a major driver of resenteeism. When employees fear losing their jobs or lack job security, they might show up physically but mentally worry about their future. Celebrating team success and recognizing their contributions can help alleviate these concerns.

3. Personal factors:

Outside factors like personal problems or work-life balance issues can contribute to resenteeism. Younger workers, in particular, value their work-life balance, and when it's compromised, they might become resentful. Employers should encourage regular breaks and provide opportunities for professional development to address these concerns.

Signs and symptoms

Recognizing resenteeism involves spotting some telltale signs and symptoms:

  • Reduced enthusiasm and engagement in work tasks.
  • A lack of initiative or motivation to go above and beyond.
  • Increased absenteeism or taking frequent breaks.
  • Minimal interest in team success or collaboration.
  • Unwillingness to take on additional responsibilities.

The impact of resenteeism on workplace productivity

Resenteeism, as we've learned, is when employees are present at work but feel unhappy or undervalued. Now, let's explore how it can affect workplace productivity:

1. Decreased employee engagement

When employees resent their job or feel undervalued, they're less likely to be engaged. They may not actively participate in tasks or celebrate team success. This lack of engagement can lead to lower productivity and innovation.

2. Effect on team dynamics

Resenteeism can also harm team dynamics. When some team members are resentful, it can create an atmosphere that doesn't sound familiar to teamwork. Open communication and collaboration may suffer, affecting the overall effectiveness of the group.

3. Quality of work

Employees who feel undervalued or resentful may not put in their best effort. This can result in lower-quality work, which can impact the company's reputation and customer satisfaction.

4. Financial consequences for the company

Resenteeism isn't just a personal issue; it affects the business too. When employees are unhappy in their current roles, they may seek a new job, contributing to the "Great Resignation" trend. This can lead to higher turnover, recruitmentcosts, and the loss of experienced employees who could be natural successors.

Strategies to address resenteeism

Addressing resenteeism is crucial for maintaining a productive workforce and preventing employees from feeling undervalued or seeking new job opportunities. Let's explore effective strategies to tackle this issue:

1. Creating a supportive work environment

One key strategy is to create a supportive work environment where employees feel valued and heard. Employers and managers can achieve this by:

  • Fostering open communication: Encourage employees to communicate their feelings and concerns without fear of reprisal. Regular check-ins and feedback sessions can help create a safe space for discussion.

  • Recognizing and celebrating team success: Acknowledge and celebrate achievements to boost morale and reinforce a sense of belonging within the team.

  • Providing resources for personal and professional growth: Offer opportunities for skill development and career advancement, showing that the company is invested in employees' progress.

  • Addressing workplace conflicts promptly and fairly: Ensure that disputes are resolved in a way that is perceived as just and unbiased.

2. Promoting work-life balance

Work-life balance is essential for preventing resenteeism. Employers can promote work-life balance by:

  • Allowing flexible work arrangements: Provide options like remote work or flexible hours to accommodate employees' personal needs and responsibilities.

  • Encouraging regular breaks: Encourage employees to take breaks during the workday to recharge, reducing feelings of overwhelm and burnout.

  • Setting clear boundaries: Make it clear that employees are not expected to be constantly available outside of their regular work hours, promoting a healthy work-life separation.

3. Encouraging mental and physical well-being

Supporting employees' mental and physical well-being is another crucial aspect of addressing resenteeism. Employers can do this by:

  • Offering mental health support: Provide access to resources such as counseling services or employee assistance programs to help employees manage stress and mental health challenges.

  • Promoting physical health: Encourage regular physical activity and healthy habits through wellness programs or gym memberships.

  • Creating a positive and safe work environment: Ensure that the workplace is free from harassment, discrimination, and other stressors that can negatively impact employees' well-being.

Useful Read: How to Build a Comprehensive Anti-Harassment Policy

4. Effective leadership and management practices

Effective leadership and management practices play a significant role in preventing resenteeism. Managers can contribute by:

  • Leading by example: Demonstrate a strong work ethic, open communication, and respect for work-life balance to set a positive tone.

  • Providing regular feedback: Offer constructive feedback and recognition to keep employees engaged and motivated.

  • Addressing employee concerns promptly: When issues arise, address them in a timely and empathetic manner to prevent escalation.

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Recognizing and addressing resenteeism is essential for employers, HR professionals, and small business owners.

By implementing strategies that create a supportive environment, promote work-life balance, prioritize well-being, and employ effective leadership practices, companies can prevent employees from feeling undervalued, improve workplace morale, and ultimately enhance productivity.

Remember, a happier and more engaged workforce benefits both employees and the business as a whole.

Rinaily Bonifacio

Written by:

Rinaily Bonifacio

Rinaily is a renowned expert in the field of human resources with years of industry experience. With a passion for writing high-quality HR content, Rinaily brings a unique perspective to the challenges and opportunities of the modern workplace. As an experienced HR professional and content writer, She has contributed to leading publications in the field of HR.


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