There’s a new buzz phrase on the block and we can almost see the line manager eye rolls travel across the UK like a Mexican wave.
Presenting “Bare Minimum Mondays”.
Bare minimum Mondays is a different approach to the working week and encourages individuals to essentially do less on Mondays. Workers are told to ease themselves gently into work, rather than picking straight up where they left off the week before. It’s all about undertaking low-level admin-related tasks on a Monday, such as emails, and planning out the rest of the tasks which can be carried out later on in the week. On bare minimum Mondays, employees should avoid any complex or stress-inducing work and instead, opt for work that requires less brain power. Purists of this movement would not only change the types of tasks being completed on Mondays but also embrace working fewer hours on a Monday to truly do the ‘bare minimum’.
Gen Zers have coined a few phrases in recent years – quiet quitting being one of the most prominent. Isn’t this quiet quitting in a different guise? We hear you say. The answer is both yes and no…
Similarly to quiet quitting, employees should avoid going above and beyond on a Monday and limit themselves to their contractual obligations. However, unlike quiet quitting, which is a permanent shift in mindset, the slower pace of bare minimum Monday ends on a Monday and business as usual recommences from 9 am on Tuesday. The bare minimum approach is isolated to that singular day of the week and isn’t thought to be symptomatic of a poor culture. The driver is thought to be self-preservation from a mental health perspective.
Where did it come from?
The Tik Tok-er, Marisa Jo, coined the phrase after she left her high-flying corporate job and became self-employed to escape her sense of constant overwhelm and Monday morning dread. However, little did she know, the corporate job wasn’t actually the catalyst for her mental health struggles. Marisa Jo later realised that it was the expectation of being available every minute of the day that was the real cause of her frustrations with work. To address this and reset the expectations, Marisa Jo dubbed bare minimum Mondays – the movement which prioritises the wellbeing of workers, suggesting that the ‘hustle culture’ in recent years has been the root cause of many cases of employee burnout.
On top of the hustle culture, another new phenomenon – ‘Sunday Scaries’ – is currently on everyone’s social media feed. This refers to the anxiety induced by the worry of what’s waiting for employees when they wake up. A LinkedIn study showed that a staggering 75% of employees had experienced Sunday Scaries.
Bare minimum Mondays and Sunday Scaries are intrinsically linked. The rise of the Sunday Scaries has effectively birthed Bare Minimum Mondays in an attempt to reduce the anxiety felt over the weekend. But is the new fad a good thing or could it be damaging for the workplace?
Why We All Need Bare Minimum Mondays
There are certainly many pros of taking part in bare minimum Mondays – not just from an employee perspective, but for the organisation too. Professor Craig Jackson, an occupational health psychologist at Birmingham City University believes that bare minimum Mondays will result in employees feeling “fresh, relaxed happy and not fatigued or over-worked”.
Individuals who are given the space to decide what their workload looks like will undoubtedly feel trusted and, in turn, valued by their employers. Happy employees will create a positive company culture and that will lead to improved employee retention. It seems like a no-brainer.
Not only that but many of those partaking in bare minimum Mondays believe the reduction in tangible output on a Monday actually promotes productivity for the remainder of the week. The premise of creating a positive mindset before you transform into your workplace self (or ‘putting on your work avatar’, as Marisa Jo calls it) appears to be a worthwhile investment for organisations. People see bare minimum Mondays as laying a strong foundation for the week ahead. After all, if you start the week with a mindset that’s crumbling and uneven, the week is unlikely to produce any valuable achievements.
Bare Minimum Mondays – A Concept That Barely Works?
However – it’s all good and well singing the praises of bare minimum Mondays to those who work sat behind a laptop. But bare minimum Mondays seem to have a blind spot. There are lots of workers who would jump at the chance of having a slow start to the week. But, for instance, we can’t quite imagine doctors in A&E turning around to a patient with a broken femur and saying that they will have to just hold that thought until Tuesday because Doc has committed to only doing low-level tasks today. It doesn’t quite work, does it?
Bare minimum Mondays could leave organisations wide open to hoards of customer complaints. In particular, customer service type settings would very much struggle to balance the urgent demands of a customer with the employee’s desire for a gentle start. Customers simply wouldn’t have the same understanding or empathy if they’d waited all weekend to speak to someone who works Monday to Friday. Waiting an additional day would likely be a sharp kick in the teeth.
Emily Austen, the founder of EMERGE – a London PR agency, has publicly expressed her opinions on bare minimum Mondays and ultimately believes it will be “bad for business”. Emily also stated that the phrase has “a terribly negative connotation”.
Do bare minimum Mondays simply delay the inevitable? By refusing to engage in stressful work on a Monday, it’s very possible that individuals are then condensing the challenging projects – that had been previously spread across the week – into fewer days, intensifying the feelings of stress for that period.
There is also a possibility that employees taking part in bare minimum Mondays might start to see the slow start to the week as an entitlement. The question then would be how do managers deal with a workforce who collectively refuses to engage in anything urgent on a Monday?
On top of that, will there be a rift between the older generations and Gen Z? Baby Boomers who typically have a strong work ethic (often at the expense of their mental health) may start viewing Gen Z as lazy, believing that bare minimum Mondays are just an excuse to avoid doing a particular task. Conflict in the workplace will also spawn more discontent.
Will Bare Minimum Mondays Stand The Test Of Time?
Ultimately, bare minimum Mondays aren’t a new thing. Many organisations may very well already see some employees mentally disengage from the workplace before they finish their working week and switch on ‘weekend mode’. Does the introduction of this new internet trend simply elongate the ‘acceptable’ time frame for minimal effort working? It’s very possible.
2023 is, without doubt, seeing mental health being championed in the workplace. There is more awareness and understanding of struggles in this area and individuals are starting to take accountability for their own mental wellbeing. The stigma is beginning to erode and many are feeling empowered to stand up against anything that affects their own state of mind. Gen Z entering our workforce has undoubtedly accelerated this advancement. But the jury’s still out about the value of bare minimum Mondays. Only time will tell if this latest buzz phrase will be the one to stick around.