Forget Quiet Quitting, The Latest Work Trend Is To 'Let It Rot'

No time to finish that presentation? Let it rot.
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If you’re regularly working unpaid overtime to get a project done, stop busting a gut and ‘let it rot’.

According to Insider, ‘let it rot,’ or bai lan (摆烂) in Mandarin, is the latest work trend from China that’s appealing to disgruntled employees worldwide.

‘Let it rot’ is described as the mindset of “leaning into self-indulgence and open decay and away from life expectations that seem neither meaningful nor attainable”.

In work terms, ‘let it rot’ is like quiet quitting’s more destructive brother. The latter term spread across social media this summer, encouraging employees to complete the basic requirements of their job description – and nothing else – in a bid to insert boundaries. By contrast, ‘let it rot’ is about tapping out altogether.

The latest trend apparently stems from the bai lan basketball tactic, when a losing team stops trying to win in order to more rapidly bring a game to its end.

Social immobility is behind the phenomenon, according to Alfred Wu, an associate professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. He pointed to the “burden of the three mountains” – education, healthcare and housing – causing barriers for millennial and Gen Z workers in China.

“They are university graduates, people who have a PhD, but when they enter the job market, they need to pick up very humble jobs,” he said, according to Intellasia.Net.

Though the idea of letting it rot has been swirling in China since spring, it’s gaining traction elsewhere in the world. And is it any wonder?

The majority (77%) of workers have experienced burnout at their current job, according to the latest survey by Deloitte, with 64% saying they are frequently stressed.

At the same time, 77% of adults are ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ worried about money due to the UK’s cost of living crisis, according to the Office for National Statistics.

We’ve watched The Great Resignation and worker strikes unfold, but has anything actually changed for the world’s workforce?

Kecheng Fang, a media professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, thinks phrases like ‘bai lan’ or ‘quiet quitting’ help workers to feel united through these frustrations.

“All these popular phrases reflect a shared social emotion of the day,” he told the Guardian. “When people use them, they are not just expressing themselves, but looking for a connection with those who have the same feeling.”

Beyoncé thinks your should “release ya job”, but it seems workers would rather keep the pay cheque and slowly let it rot instead.