From #QuietQuitting to #RageApplying, there hasn’t been a shortage of trends sweeping the workplace – and the internet.
It can be hard to keep up with changing trends, but it’s important to know what’s happening on the (virtual) grapevine. Here are some recent workplace TikTok trends, what they mean and how they may impact HR pros.
TikTok trends to know
Just like any social media, TikTok can be a place where disgruntled employees go to vent or share about what’s working for them. There are a number of workplace TikTok trends that have gained popularity in recent years and spread to the real world. Here are a few of the most significant TikTok trends.
“It could stem from limited growth opportunities, a highly reactive work environment, micromanaging bosses, exhaustion, or a lack of challenge in their roles, among other factors,” said Charlotte Kaylor, HR lead at Radiance Holdings. “These individuals often transitioned from going the extra mile to adopting an attitude of, ‘I’ll do exactly what they pay me for, nothing more, nothing less.’”
Where it came from: The TikTok trend gained popularity in March 2022 when a career coach named Brian Creely used the term in a TikTok video talking about employees “coasting” at work. However, its ties can be traced back further to 2021 with a similar trend in China, called “tang ping” or “lying flat.” As of this writing, #quietquitting has nearly a billion views on TikTok.
What HR needs to know: Quiet quitting is one of the most popular buzzwords of the year – and this TikTok trend all centers around disengagement and dissatisfaction with the workplace. “[Employees] are sending a clear message to employers: If they want more effort from their employees, they must step up and prove they deserve it,” says Kaylor. “This approach serves as a not-so-subtle way to hold employers accountable to employees’ needs, rebalancing the employer-employee power dynamic and compelling employers to rethink their approach to culture and management.”
What it is: Rage applying is a TikTok trend that’s similar to quiet quitting in that it’s a response to disengagement and dissatisfaction with an employee’s current workplace. “Rage applying can be described as a response to a bad day, incident, or work-related situation where someone turns to a job board to apply for new roles,” says Kaylor. Usually, this is out of anger or frustration, and many employees may be looking for jobs with better perks or pay. “In my view, it’s a coping mechanism that can provide employees with a sense of control and an escape when they feel these elements are missing in their daily work,” says Kaylor.
Where it came from: The term seemed to first spring to popularity in a TikTok video by user RedWeez in early 2023, who said, “I got mad at work and rage applied to like 15 jobs and then I got a job that gave me a $25,000 raise and it’s a great place to work. So keep rage applying. It’ll happen.” From there, the trend began to gain steam and is now a commonplace term for HR pros and disgruntled employees alike.
What HR needs to know: “Rage Applying” – or any type of dissatisfaction with work – can be a way for HR to realize that there’s something unsatisfactory within the workplace. “It prompts us to consider whether something deeper is at play beyond the typical frustrations of working with imperfect people,” says Kaylor.
What it means: The #ActYourWage TikTok trend has been described as a more positive spin on the quiet quitting trend. Simply put, it’s the practice of doing the bare minimum for your job – even if you love it. In other words, act “your wage” – or provide the effort equivalent to your salary instead of going above and beyond.
Where it came from: The term first appeared to be used in 2020 by TikTok user Stephanie Anne. “Sometimes I have to remind myself to act my wage. Like, if I’ve been doing too much at work, I’ll have to be like … go sit in the bathroom and scroll on your phone for 25 minutes,” she said. “They only pay you $7.25 an hour.”
What HR needs to know: “The hashtag #ActYourWage is empowering … professionals to engage in meaningful discussions about their contribution to a company’s revenue,” says Kaylor. “The responsibility falls on employers to establish a rewards system that equitably and efficiently motivates these professionals to actively contribute to the company’s revenue.”
What it means: Although it’s a new TikTok trend, the concept isn’t new. It simply refers to doing the least possible amount of work on Mondays to ease into the workweek and avoid burnout later in the week. “While it might not be defined by a specific hashtag, many people can relate to the idea of starting the workweek gradually by minimizing meetings on Mondays and using that time to organize for the week ahead,” says Kaylor.
Where it came from: The term was coined in early 2023 by TikTok user Marisa Jo Mayes, who explained that she uses #BareMinimumMondays to combat work stress, burnout and Sunday Scaries. “[It] still means sticking to the structure I know works for me – just going a bit slower,” Mayes said in the caption. Now, the hashtag has 4.2 million views on TikTok.
What HR needs to know: Just because it’s a TikTok trend doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. In fact, Bare Minimum Mondays can be embraced by workplace leaders to help battle company-wide burnout. “This doesn’t mean advocating for employees to slack off on Mondays but rather being intentional about structuring the workweek and setting clear expectations,” says Kaylor. “For instance, it’s worth examining whether a mandatory team meeting every Monday at 8 a.m. is the most productive use of time. Could Mondays be better spent catching up on emails and planning for the week?”