When Marina Shifrin quit her job, she posted a video online complaining that her employer — an animation company — only cared about the number of hits a video would get.
Ironically enough, that resignation video went viral in a big way. At the time of writing, it's received more than 9 million views. On the off chance you haven't seen it, here it is:
In similar news, faced with what she perceived as political manipulation of her profession, an employee of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in North Carolina decided to send a resignation email to her boss. She just happened to CC her colleagues:
When you pushed our reasonable, right-leaning WQ [Water Quality] Director out, I knew we were in trouble. When you guys (and they are mostly guys...) pushed out a very thoughtful and judicial Environmental Management Commission chair, I knew we were moving into a sand pit that we weren't going to dig out of easily. When you, along with your "great Tom Reeder", decided to cleave off the stormwater programs and move it to Land Resources, who have never been trained for such..nor do they much care about WQ, I knew it was time to leave.
No offense to Ms Shifrin, nor the anonymous DENR employee, but it would be silly to assume that these stories went viral because of the quality of the dancing or the power of the rhetoric. What's captivated people's attention is someone sticking it to a boss whom they perceive as uncaring, disrespectful, cynical or exploitative.
To be fair, these instances have attracted critics as well as supporters. One commenter on YouTube berated Ms Shifrin, telling her she should be grateful to have a job in the first place. And it would certainly be fair to question whether a disdainful, public resignation is the best way to get rehired in the future. (Although, as a small business owner who believes in hiring folks with spirit and initiative, I'd personally grant both of these folks an interview.)
These stories, and the collective response to them, have to be viewed as a symptom of something larger. Taken collectively, they are a cry for help.
We live in an economy where unemployment remains stubbornly high; where many employees feel unappreciated, undervalued and overworked; where executive pay has gone through the roof while others struggle to get by; and where many corporations seek to offload responsibility for the well-being of their employees. An increasing number of people feel that the employer-employee relationship is no longer the reciprocal, mutually beneficial relationship it once was, and they don't see any feasible strategy for fixing that dynamic.
These videos are protests that deserve to be listened to. And they are a warning sign to employers about what can go wrong if you don't treat your people with respect. Every boss I have ever had has been respectful, progressive and deeply committed to caring for their workers.
I would never imagine humiliating them in such a public fashion. But then, I'd never have to.