Ditching the superwoman complex Jacinda Ardern’s resignation shows burnout is real ― and it’s nothing to be ashamed of

JACINDA ARDERN SHOCKED many around the world last week when she stepped down as New Zealand’s prime minister. “We give all that we can, for as long as we can, and then it’s time. And for me it’s time,” she said in an emotional speech.

Leaving aside any politics, for many women watching it was a deeply relatable moment: watching another successful woman run into burnout and need a sabbatical.

“The pressure pushed on to working women is tiring enough without it being amped up by being a public woman ― and the worst of all offences, to some, a political woman,” writes Jess Phillips, a Labour MP in Britain. “This work takes more fuel ― fuel others don’t have to use up in the pursuit of a political life. No wonder Jacinda’s knackered.”

Others hoped that it would give more visibility to a very common experience. Female workers, for instance, are 32 per cent more likely to experience burnout, a Slack Technologies report released in October showed; another report last year from McKinsey found that 43 per cent of female leaders report feeling burnt out.

Study after study have shown lately that women — especially now, after three years of Covid — are not having an easy go of it in the workforce.

“Ardern’s decision feels different than the kind of ‘opting out’ we used to talk about in the past,” writes Bloomberg’s Beth Kowitt. “It’s also in keeping with some of the trends we’re seeing in the business world. Increasingly women are choosing to leave their jobs in order to create a new path, rather than just endure their current environment or disappear from the workplace altogether.”

You might even call it inspiring. “Stepping away from the big job,” Kowitt continued, “or adjusting your ambitions because the old ones don’t work with the life you want for yourself, is the ultimate power flex.”


It’s all the rage – Quiet quitting is so 2022. ‘Rage applying’ is the newest trend taking over TikTok

IT’S THAT TIME again. The latest Gen Z TikTok workplace trend has just dropped, and with it comes a flurry of think-pieces ― this time, probing the meaning of the new trend of so-called ‘rage applying’.

“It’s meaning is somewhat unmistakable,” writes Mashable. “Rage applying is the process of angrily sending out your CV to a bunch of open positions with higher salaries and better perks than the job you currently hold.”

The trend started here in Canada, with TikTok user Redweez. “I got mad at work, and I rage-applied to like, 15 jobs,” she said in a TikTok. “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.”

Naturally, comparisons are being drawn with quiet quitting, the trend of doing exactly as much as you need to in order to get by. Rage applying looks then like both escalation and evolution — one step further out the door than quiet quitting, and one degree less attached to the current job.

And the reasons for it shouldn’t be surprising: there has been an awareness growing for a while now that younger workers are growing disgruntled with the economy and workplace culture. It’s physically impossible to go on TikTok these days and not encounter that. First they were quiet quitting, and that was cause for much consternation — but now, they’re actually starting to kick the tires.


Enough with the good vibes – While there is certainly something to be said for having a sunny disposition at work, toxic positivity can actually damage employee morale

HAVE YOU EVER met someone so positive it’s actually annoying? Toxic, you might say?

Many of us have, but when someone brings that energy into the workplace, it has a tendency to drive their coworkers crazy.

What is toxic positivity? According to WorkLife, it’s “the belief that people should maintain a positive mindset no matter how dire or difficult a situation.” It sounds semi-harmless to some, but workplace experts in fact see it as a major red flag.

“When you show up with toxic positivity, you are not hearing, seeing or understanding the situation,” said Mita Mallick, head of inclusion, equity and impact at equity management platform Carta. “It’s like you’re just slapping on an Instagram quote as a solution.”

Here and there, it may elicit rolled eyes, but experts suggest that toxic positivity’s real harms comes when it invades the entire culture of a workplace.

“Toxic positive ruins how we listen,” noted mental health speaker Anne Moss Rogers. “We want people to feel their feelings.” When it gets into the leadership level, it can often filter down throughout the office, leading to an environment where people can’t express displeasure and can’t identify problems.

“Being a healthy human involves being conscious of ourselves and how we show up in the world,” reads an article by Samara Quintero and Dr. Jamie Long. “If you recognize yourself as a transmitter of toxic positivity, it’s time to cut it out. You’re hurting yourself and the people you care about most by insisting on this monochromatic mindset.”

So, permission to gripe a little. It’s to everyone’s benefit, after all.


Why we need employee ownership – With three in four SME business owners planning to exit their companies in the next decade, employee ownership may be the best way for many businesses to survive ― and thrive

AS CANADA’S WORKFORCE ages towards retirement, many are starting to think about what that means for soon-to-be-retiring business owners and their succession plans for the small business sector.

Seventy-six per cent of Canadian owners of SMEs are planning to exit their business in the next 10 years, according to a study from the CFIB. Who are they going to hand off the reigns to?

One argument is that they should let their employees have it. In last week’s Financial Post, Columbia Business School prof Brett House argued that Canada should follow the lead of the U.S. and UK and look toward employee ownership trusts to help existing owners hand off their business assets to employee stewards.

“Compared with other enterprises, British and American employee-owned firms tend to be more resilient to shocks, more durable instruments of regional development, better sources of pay and more effective generators or employee wealth,” he writes. “This success is widely recognized.”

If you’ve been to the grocery store, there’s even a good chance you’ve seen one of the most famous examples of this in action: Bob’s Red Mill, maker of a whole host of grains, flours and oats. In 2010, as titular Bob and long-time owner Bob Moore was preparing for retirement, he gifted the company to an employee stock ownership plan, owned by the employees.

Moves like this also get nods of approval from political economists studying how best to manage a generational handover from boomers, who still hold most of the economic assets, to generations below them who on average control far fewer assets.

“A record number of baby boomer business owners are now reaching retirement age and will eventually sell their company,” writes Jack Moriarty. “Their most obvious options are to sell to a competitor or financial buyer that may eliminate local jobs and investment. However, many owners who might prefer to preserve their legacy by selling to their employees cannot afford to do so.”

Oh, and if you were wondering, Bob continued working well into his 90s, and the company’s growth tripled in 10 years after becoming employee-owned.

Content written by Kieran Delamont for Worklife, a partnership between Ahria Consulting and London Inc. To view this content in newsletter form, click here