Bare Minimum Mondays: are employees just being lazy?

relaxing with the | Bare Minimum Mondays: are employees just being lazy?
By Caroline Gammon | 12th April 2023 | 9 min read

Well, another month, another employee trend.

In the last year, we’ve seen countless employee trends catch momentum – such as quiet quitting and the great resignation – with the latest movement being Bare Minimum Mondays.

The viral TikTok trend advocates for workers to do the absolute minimum amount of work possible at the start of the week.

Is this new trend a shifted focus to self-care, or are people simply slacking?

Are Bare Minimum Mondays what people need?

Our recent survey found that the most popular activity on a Bare Minimum Monday is avoiding all and any meetings, with pushing out difficult tasks a close second.

I’m sure many employers have been filled with dread when reading headlines such as the Bare Minimum Mondays trend is probably what your burnt-out self needs.

Those advocating for the movement are using it as a means to try minimise the stress imposed on themselves and take back control of their workweek.

But this trend poses a problem.

Many businesses are currently struggling to recruit, with UK job vacancies remaining at an almost all-time high of 1.1 million.

When under-resourced, the last thing you want is for current staff to be actively doing as little as possible.

Sounds like a problem

If you’re concerned about Bare Minimum Mondays, that’s understandable.

However, let me make it extremely clear: this trend is a business and HR problem, not an employee problem.

Like with many of the recent employee trends gaining momentum on social media, the core of the issue stems from the business.

Of course, there will be those who jump on the trend as an excuse to slack off; but for the most part, those participating in trends such as Bare Minimum Mondays are the employees who have worked the hardest and simply have nothing left to give. 

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The Sunday Scaries and burnout

In an article covering this trend, it was cited that no matter how well you finish the working week, when it comes to a Sunday evening, the looming fear of Monday creeps up.

The Sunday Scaries – I’m sure we can all relate to having this feeling at some point in our careers.

Something sinister isn’t at play, and the root cause isn’t Monday itself; rather, many workers are suffering from burnout.  

Perhaps employees aren’t feeling valued, the role isn’t taking them in the direction they want, teams are understaffed, workloads are simply unbearable, the compensation provided isn’t meeting expectations, or maybe it’s a combination of all these factors.

Will we see Bare Minimum Tuesdays?

As stated, Bare Minimum Mondays aren’t linked directly to Mondays but the first day an employee works.

As many people spend these Bare Minimum Mondays catching up on the previous week and planning ahead, it could really fall on any day.

With the rise of flexible working and people operating at different times and days, it's feasible to think that we could see Bare Minimum Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, etc.

Let’s talk leadership

Have you noticed this trend?

We understand times are tough; economic uncertainty looms, and finding talent remains a massive issue.

As a result, many employees are overworked and undercompensated.

But you can’t magic up more people and money, so what can be done?

Start the conversation

With the days busy, and many working remotely, it’s easy for issues to spiral with no obvious indicators.

It’s not uncommon for employees to put on brave faces, despite being severely overworked and drowning under a heap of unachievable deadlines.

Keep an eye out for signs of stress, work on creating a safe space and open up the conversation.

A great starting point is for managers to have regular catch-ups with their direct reports, offering a casual place to discuss workloads and stress.

Alternatively, consider a Monday morning team meeting where staff can openly discuss their tasks, challenges and priorities. 

However, not everyone is comfortable speaking about their difficulties.

For a softer approach, consider carrying out anonymous surveys to obtain snapshots of how the company is feeling.

While this approach won’t tell you a specific employee is struggling, you can obtain a wider view which can help prompt meaningful change.

Top tip: talk to your line managers and inform them about this trend and how to spot warning signs. Encourage them to support and motivate staff + celebrate wins and achievements throughout the week.

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Offer more flexibility

Flexible working seems to be one of the primary trends from the pandemic that is here to stay, and for good reason.

Numerous studies have found that added flexibility in the workplace correlates directly with an improved work-life balance.

Now, giving employees the option to work flexible hours/days won’t make pressing deadlines or excessive tasks go away, but it makes managing personal responsibilities far easier, helping reduce overall stress.

Perhaps a relative has fallen ill and needs added care throughout the day, or they simply want to do the school run, having flexibility in the day to do these things can make a massive difference to overall wellbeing.

We covered this topic more in our recent four-day workweek blog.

Utilise workforce insights

Does a specific department have high churn?  Has a team been struggling to fill a vacancy for an extended period of time? Are some employees struggling to meet objectives?

Knowledge is power.

All these insights can be used to identify workplace issues, hopefully giving you the chance to rectify challenges before they escalate.

However, to truly make the most of workforce data, you need it in real-time, so you can accurately see what’s happening in the business at a glance.

Perhaps managers need more training on supporting staff, or the job ad for a certain role isn’t being advertised in the right locations – real-time insights empower you to catalyse meaningful change.

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There’s no quick fix

For all these emerging employee trends, there’s no real quick fix.

Trends such as Bare Minimum Mondays ultimately stem from fundamental business issues and leadership challenges.

As HR professionals, it’s our gift and power to cultivate a culture that follows positive values and visions – we can set our own workplace trends!

For example, if you’re worried about a trend such as Bare Minimum Mondays, make it your goal to tackle the problem head-on; be creative and bring the fun – perhaps you could host a coffee morning or create themes for your weekly team meetings (crazy t-shirt day?).

More can always be done, but as a starting point, simply considering your people and making a conscious effort to check in can go a long way.

After all, we’re all in this together.

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