UAE jobs: 5 viral workplace trends explained; should you be worried?

From ghost quitting to resigning en masse and rage applying, these buzzwords are here to stay, but are employers solely to blame?


Sahim Salim

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Published: Thu 11 May 2023, 6:00 AM

Social media is now the go-to place for employees (and some employers) to vent out against what they perceive as toxic or unfair workplace practices. With the UAE being the official social media capital of the world, workplace trends are going viral. Netizens are either making their likes count or simply dismissing the trends as laziness.

However, like, share or ignore them all you want, these trends are here to stay, according to experts.

Based on research conducted by Khaleej Times and inputs given by recruitment specialists, we have zeroed in on five workplace trends that are dominating social media feeds here. These range from quiet quitting, where employees do the bare minimum at work, to the great resignation, where a large number of people just walk away from their jobs. (See below for details on the five trends we have identified).

Dubai-based recruitment specialist Nicki Wilson, managing director of Genie Recruitment, finds a common link between all five trends.

“I would say the commonality is actually down to the current generation within the workforce. All seem to stem from some kind of dissatisfaction at work, but before it gets to the point of quiet quitting … surely one must be looking for other opportunities or have the strength to ask for a change/promotion,” she said.

Wilson does not buy the argument that employers are solely to blame. A lot of these trends are actually more around the individual, she added.

New terms seem to come out weekly at the moment and are trending “with the rise of social media and the evolution of Gen Z entering the workforce, often defining something that always existed”.

“From my perspective, I have seen that a lot of Gen Z (workers) have very high needs and expectations from their workplaces … even for entry-level roles. When it comes to work, perhaps these terms reassure this generation that many others feel the same way,” she said.

Here are the top five trending job-related buzzwords, what they mean and some potential solutions.

1. Rage applying

The term has taken off on video-sharing app TikTok. It basically involves dissatisfied workers firing away applications for any jobs that are advertised. Many claimed they either got better paying jobs or renegotiated their salaries with current employers as a result.

According to professional network LinkedIn, the trend has resonated the most with Gen Z.

Nicki Wilson said rage applying seems to stem around the idea of someone thinking 'I don't need this job', which in turn means a blasting out of applications for job roles.

She advised residents against rage applying. “Typically, people in a specific industry know each other, so word can get around; sometimes even to your employer! (This is) not ideal (as) your view on your job role could change.”

2. Boomerang employees

According to talent advisory and solutions company Adecco Group, boomerang employees are those that leave their job to return to their original post, but often in a stronger position than when they left. People can choose to change jobs for various reasons: improved salary, increased job security, flexible work options, a change of scenery, etc.

“This is not something new. People often return to previous jobs, having left to gain experience elsewhere. This could be possible when workers have noticed companies addressing major issues that led to resignation of the employee,” said Mayank Patel, VP - sales EEMENA and country head, Middle East at Adecco.

3. Bare minimum Mondays

TikToker Marisa Jo Mayes went viral for popularising the term. The idea is to start the week off slowly in order to prevent burnout. It is meant to help employees chase away Monday blues by taking on fewer and less-demanding tasks. However, experts have warned that taking it too easy could cost employees their jobs.

4. The great resignation

Patel pointed out that last year saw an increase in the number of people leaving their jobs in a wave of what came to be known as 'the great resignation'. There are still plenty of people looking for rewarding work, a good compensation and a sense of being valued, he added.

The trend dominated many sectors: Hospitality, travel, manufacturing, retail, customer service and healthcare. It involved employees unsatisfied with shift rotations, customer-facing roles, low wages and high stress, Patel said.

It was less prevalent in sectors with higher wages.

5. Quiet quitting

Patel defined 'quiet quitting' as when one is not outright quitting the job, but is “quitting the idea of giving 100 per cent to the job responsibilities”.

“It is a boundary setting; a way of staying in your job but also saving time and energy to balance work and social life,” he explained.

Typical signs include low productivity or bare minimum output, low energy, lesser engagement with other colleagues and excuses to leave early.

Is there a solution?

According to Patel, it is crucial for companies to engage in corporate empathy and truly understand the needs of their employees.

“If the manager spots an employee that is ghost quitting (another term for quiet quitting, firstly there is a need to understand the reason and take actionable steps to support the employee and retain them.”

Steps include encouraging wellbeing, equally distributing the workload among team members, establishing upskilling and reskilling programmes to support the career growth and advancement of the employee, offering employee performance review and clear career path, reducing micromanagement and encouraging workers to have autonomy for certain tasks.


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