5 Workplace Trends Employers Love and Workers Hate

When it comes to workplace trends, there’s a tug of war between employees and employers.

While employees have initiated trends such as loud quitting, rage-applying, Bare Minimum Mondays, career cushioning, “act your wage” and quiet quitting, employers are also generating trends. And just as employers often aren’t thrilled with employee fads, workers tend to dislike employer-generated trends.

Currently, employees may resent employer trends such as quiet firing, return to office, unlimited PTO, hot-desking and no promotions for remote workers.

[READ: 8 Workplace Trends to Eye for 2024]

Quiet Firing

It’s no surprise that employees dread and fear quiet firing, which is when an employer pushes out a worker without formally laying them off or firing them. In a typical scenario, a manager might quietly fire direct reports by changing or curtailing their responsibilities, treating them poorly, or otherwise making the employee’s life unpleasant at work. Some supervisors give no promotions or raises as part of their quiet firing strategy.

Quiet firing might even show up as a hostile work environment and can lead employees to experience resenteeism before they’re ultimately let go. While employers may enjoy deploying quiet firing tactics, some may feel driven to these unethical actions when they’re dealing with an employee they wish they could fire.

[See: 15 Qualities of Bad Managers.]

Return to Office

One controversial trend is some employers’ push for all employees — including those who have been working remotely — to return to working in the office. But while many employers love the idea of corralling everyone under one roof, many workers value the flexibility and work-life balance benefits of working from home and aren’t aligned with the idea of being forced back into a 9-to-5 office schedule.

“Workers appreciate their freedom more than any office perk their employer is willing to offer,” said human resources consultant Conor Hughes, in an email.

“The ability to work from anywhere in the world, freedom of not having to be every day in a place, not having to spend the time on the way there are serious considerations for today’s workforce,” he added. “They feel like mandatory office time subtracts autonomy.”

Unlimited PTO

On the surface, unlimited paid time off would seem like every employee’s dream. But after digging deeper into this trend, many employees give unlimited PTO two thumbs down. In a popular LinkedIn post, Brian de Haaff, co-founder and CEO at Aha, lists several reasons he feels workers should never accept an unlimited PTO policy, calling it “inherently unfair.” De Haaff adds: “At the core, unlimited PTO means leaders have just refused to establish a fair program and have just pushed it off to others.”

“While unlimited PTO may sound ideal, employees often end up taking less time off,” Hughes explained. “Without accrued days, workers feel guilty utilizing the ‘unlimited’ policy. This leads to burnout and lower productivity long-term as employees don’t recharge.”

[SEE: 13 Companies That Offer Unlimited Vacation Days.]


An outgrowth of hybrid work environments, hot-desking allows employers to avoid assigning a specific desk or workstation to any individual employee. Instead, the desks are all communal and up for grabs. This setup is great for employers, who save money from the practice and can point to “collaborative benefits” of this form of workplace musical chairs.

Hughes noted that while hot-desking gives employers added flexibility, the result is that employees lose their sense of place and personal space. “Having to pack up each day and move is disruptive and stressful,” he said. “Workers cannot customize their station or keep personal items nearby. It hinders efficiency more than helps.”

[Read: Things Your Boss Can’t Legally Do.]

No Promotions for Remote Workers

Technology company Dell, which embraced remote work early in the COVID-19 pandemic, recently told workers who remain fully remote that they will not be eligible for promotions. And according to a 2022 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, two-thirds of supervisors of remote workers believe full-time remote work is detrimental to employees’ career objectives. Remote workers may have less visibility, which can impact their chances for mentorship, professional development and promotions if the company doesn’t level the playing field for people who work from home.

These inequities for remote workers can backfire on employers, who may find a large swath of their workforce disengaged. As with all of these workplace trends that favor employers but not necessarily employees, it’s important for employers to consider whether policies that don’t promote employee satisfaction may ultimately lead to lowered productivity and retention.

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5 Workplace Trends Employers Love and Workers Hate originally appeared on usnews.com

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