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Buzzwords Like 'Rage-Applying' Point To Gen Z's Heightened Workplace Anxiety

To better understand the complexities, The Quint spoke to two mental health experts and two full-time Gen Z workers.

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Mind It
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While 2022 was the year of corporate buzzwords like 'quiet quitting' and 'moonlighting', this year's top workplace trend seems to be 'rage-applying'.

Popularized by a plethora of Gen Z (those who were born mid to late 1990s) TikTokers, rage-applying essentially means applying to multiple jobs at the same time – stemming from an acute dissatisfaction with current workplace patterns or job responsibilities.

It is no coincidence that rage-applying is particularly a Gen Z trend. After two harrowing years of the COVID-19 pandemic, several studies have come to light, stressing on this generation's struggle with declining mental health and its adverse effects.

To better understand the complexities underlying corporate buzzwords like rage-applying, The Quint spoke to two mental health experts and two Gen Z folks at the workplace; as they share insights on the heightened career anxiety being experienced by young adults across the globe.

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'New Term, Not-So-New Phenomenon'

According to Dr Nischol Raval, a consulting psychiatrist and psychotherapist at Sahyadri Hospital, Pune, rage-applying is not an entirely new phenomenon.

He explains, "When a person is unsatisfied and unhappy in their current workplace due to a variety of reasons, this could be one of the ways to cope." He adds that multiple emotions contribute to rage-applying, with sadness, frustration, insecurity, anxiety and anger being some of the primary ones.

For Ashwini, a 22-year-old social media trainee in Mumbai, rage-applying might have landed her a job but the entire process was extremely anxiety-inducing.

One word: terrible. It (the process of rage-applying) was completely anxiety-driven. The feeling of not being enough just led me to apply to more places in one go, assuming at least one would call me back.
ASHWINI, SOCIAL MEDIA TRAINEE

Kritika*, a 21-year-old junior art director in Mumbai, tried her luck at rage-applying, which only left her feeling more conflicted about her current workplace.

She recalled the hindrances she faced while applying to multiple companies, "In interviews, I have been personally asked if I have considered staying with my current agency for a year and then leaving, because it would look bad on my CV. I did justify it with a plausible answer because I am very sure of what i want to do and what I don't want to do. And this is something I don't want to do."

Kritika adds, "Now, (the) problem arises when agencies see this as a sign of fickle-mindedness".
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'Not Just One Inciting Factor'

Nida Shaikh, the founder, director and senior therapist at Manah Center for Mental Well-Being, Pune believes that rage-applying is especially prevalent in Gen Z for multi-fold reasons.

"Firstly this is a generation that has been brought up with access to the internet right since their childhood", she explains, "This has exposed them to global competition, opportunities and cultures from a very young age. When an individual is exposed to such a variety from a young age they develop a need for novelty, change and challenge but mainly in their area of interest only."

Gen-Z does not waste time and effort on topics and things that do not interest them which I think is an amazing thing, but the downside to the same is a lower tolerance to monotony, pressure and accountability.
NIDA SHAIKH, SR THERAPIST

Dr Nischol also believes that there could be multiple reasons leading to one rage-applying to several places. He adds, "and then it can get triggered by a particular event."

He elaborates, "This could be due to perceived rejection (missing out on a deserved promotion), feeling that they have not got what they deserved, unruly work environment, little or no support for further growth, feeling stuck in the same role for lengthy period, insecurity of their current job., etc."

Nida also stresses on the rise of social media addiction and the resultant attention deficit as tertiary factors, "With the availability of almost anything on our fingertips, we have been plagued with an attention deficit. We want to do a lot of things that are interesting and fun and sticking to one or two things feels like we are missing out or being left behind. "

Ashwini's experiences mirror Nida's response as she says, "Apart from the anxiety of landing a good job, my friends and collegemates' placements at companies got me feeling like I was losing out".

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'For Gen Z, Work Is Not Everything'

Kritika points out some crucial factors that drove her to rage-apply.

Really extensive work hours, no work-life balance, the clients and medium I work with. Even the kind of work I did was something that I was not happy with. This led me to the realization that I do not want to stay here (her current workplace) anymore.
KRITIKA, JR ART DIRECTOR

According to Nida, there's a lot Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) and Baby Boomers (those born between 1955 and 1964) can learn from Gen Z's approach to their professional responsibilities.

"A phenomenon that is very common among the Gen-Z is the need to have a 'good life' that consists of a certain kind of lifestyle, availability of money and a good social life", she explains.

"I personally think the Gen-Z can teach us Millennials and Baby Boomers that work is not everything and there is more to life and your identity than just your profession" she adds, "Which is why, 'where' they work doesn't bother them as long as the remuneration is good and there is a balance in their work and personal life."

Nida clarifies that this desire for a comfortable life should not be mistaken for "a lack of passion towards their field of work".

She elaborates, "This 'I don't care where I work as long as my needs are met' attitude comes from a brilliant confidence that this generation possesses that helps them to work in their style no matter what company they work for. I, personally, admire that quite a bit."

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'For Anyone Who Is Struggling...'

Kritika points out some early signs she noticed in her workplace that one should look out for, to avoid feeling trapped in a dissatisfying work culture.

"Within a month of joining, I felt burnt out...like completely worn out. And of course that affected my work because I couldn't think. Being in a creative field, that's very crucial" she recalls.

She also talks about the ways in which burnout hindered her work process, "I could see that I did not like my work. I didn't even want to send out creatives because I knew I could do better". Kritika states how that was when she realized that she was "falling into a template".

"Secondly, I would have to push every cell in my body to get out of bed!" she exclaims in frustration.

For both Ashwini and Kritika, one of the most tell-tale signs of an unsuitable workplace is waking up and feeling an intense disinterest to go to work. Kritika says, "To get out of bed and go into office - when that becomes the biggest energy-consuming task of the day".

Dr Nischol underlines a key takeaway for anyone who's struggling with similar precarities in their workplace.

Try to be more mindful, especially of how you are getting affected by stress and what measures you can take to offset the negative impact.
DR NISCHOL RAVAL, CONSULTING PSYCHIATRIST

He lists out some "simple daily measures" that can help alleviate work stress, "like regular sleep schedule, being more active, engaging in hobbies, eating nutritious meals, avoiding junk food, not getting addicted to substances and practicing some form of relaxation techniques (meditation, mindfulness, progressive muscle relaxation, Yoga)".

Nida Shaikh also chimes in with some advice for Gen Z folks battling workplace anxiety.

For these young adults I'd like to say that continue listening to your gut and put mental health first. It's okay to 'rage-apply' till you find your best fit.
NIDA SHAIKH, SR THERAPIST

She encourages young adults to "indulge in trial and error till you feel at peace". According to Nida, "Nothing in the world is worth your physical and mental health".

(*As per an interviewee's request, an alias has been used to conceal her true identity).

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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