From our relationships and friendships to our homes, pets and children, we share everything on social media. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that TikTok has become the go-to space for discussing our work lives — and venting when things aren’t going so well.
At a time when many of us are reconsidering the relationship we want with our jobs, some employees are stripping bare the day-to-day of their jobs on social media.
Creators on #WorkTok are amassing thousands of followers by offering career advice, mocking micromanagers and in some cases, drawing attention to toxic or exploitative work practices.
Bringing toxic workplaces to light
Before social media, what happened behind corporate doors stayed there. But now, the realities of work are widely publicised — particularly by Gen Z and millennials, who are more likely to share on TikTok than older employees.
Young people have a platform to talk openly about issues ranging from mental health and burnout, to remote work and bullying. And, as a result, it’s more difficult for employers to ignore the problems faced by workers.
Bad PR can have a serious impact on a company’s reputation, especially if it’s by a current or former employee.
According to one survey, 71% of workers would avoid applying to a company that had experienced negative press, with women more likely to not apply than men.
And a bad reputation doesn’t just affect recruitment. Negative PR can lead to low morale and productivity among workers — and it can deter clients from using a business's services.
"In today's 24/7 news cycle and social media world, earning and maintaining a good reputation can be a challenge," said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder. "Employers that value transparency and take a proactive approach to issues or complaints will have a better chance of securing trust and loyalty and maintaining a positive reputation."
Shift in attitudes toward work
It’s no coincidence that the WorkTok movement gained momentum at a time when attitudes towards work and careers are changing.
The pandemic triggered a huge cultural shift, leading many to reconsider what they wanted from their jobs, including more flexibility and a better work-life balance. For many, maintaining health and wellbeing — and being treated well by employers — has become more of a priority than career progression.
We’re in an era of "quiet quitting" and "lazy girl" jobs — well-paid, flexible work with leisure time — as people have grown disengaged from their jobs and traditional "hustle culture".
Read more: How to spot wellbeing washing at work
Employees are no longer afraid to set boundaries and advocate for work-life balance, in part, because they aren’t seeing the financial or career progression benefits of overextending themselves in today’s economic climate.
And while some businesses have taken this into account, others have not. So disgruntled employees have taken to TikTok to air their frustrations.
WorkTok can be risky business
Of course, taking to TikTok to talk about your job can be risky.
Employees have been fired for posting content while at work or about work. One supermarket worker was fired from his job after he posted a video praising his role online.
A Domino’s employee posted a video claiming that he was fired for his videos, which were mostly of him preparing pizzas, because they were “apparently against company policy.”
Another worker at the supermarket chain Co-op was sacked without warning for posting videos showing her in work uniform calling customers "Karens".
Joanna Gaudoin, a career expert and managing director at the personal development firm Inside Out Image, says it can be cathartic to share experiences at work on social media, but it can come at a high price.
“I think sharing on social media can be fine as long as someone has taken the time to make sure they won’t regret what they have put in a day or two’s time,” she says.
“People also need to consider how their comments could be taken as often they can be taken out of context online and additionally the perception the comments they make could create of them as an individual.”
There’s no denying that work-related TikTok posts come with individual risk. However, WorkTok content — and a greater awareness of how work affects our health — has allowed people to have more honest, open conversations about toxic practices.
While "quiet quitting" and other trends may seem like a fad, they reflect people’s needs and highlight real problems in the workplace.
To make sure employees are happy, healthy and engaged, it’s important for organisations to keep on top of the changing work environment and what people want from their jobs. By embracing change, employers can better support their workers.