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Is ‘resenteeism’ the next hurdle for business leaders?

By Jack Campbell | |5 minute read

Being overly frustrated by one’s professional circumstances but still pushing through has been newly labelled as “resenteeism”. It’s something that almost certainly will be afflicting lawyers right now.

Just when one thought we might be done with labels for workplace trends, another emerged, this one coined by UK-based staff management software provider RotaCloud.

“Resenteeism”, as reported by Huffington Post, refers to feeling hugely frustrated by one’s workplace environment and circumstances but still working through it.


As with any other professional services strand, there may be numerous reasons for lawyers to experience resenteeism at this point in time. They may not have been able to take a proper holiday since the onset of the global pandemic, the frenetic pace of productivity as a result of increased working-from-home arrangements, and broader psychological distress, anxiety and depression may all be playing a part in lawyers’ sense of dissatisfaction in their current roles.

And, with a recession still potentially on the cards, some practitioners may feel insecurity in their roles or sense a dearth of new vocational pathways in the immediate future.

When asked about the existence or otherwise of this trend among legal professionals and whether it is manifesting more broadly among lawyers, Coaching Advocates co-founder and director Katie Gray (pictured) said that she and fellow coaches for lawyers see resenteeism surface “in a number of situations”.

These include, she outlined, where “goal posts for promotion keep shifting due to changes in strategy and economic conditions; lip service [is] being paid to wellbeing initiatives that are not implemented when it counts; [or there is] poor communication that leaves coworkers feeling under-valued, and in some cases even victimised”.

Any legal professional who remains in a job that they are fundamentally unhappy in — “to the extent you’re starting to actively, and openly, resent it” — can and will result in lower levels of wellbeing, not just for one’s self but also for those around that person, Ms Gray posited.

“If left unresolved, feelings of frustration and resentment can spread throughout a team and organisation, creating a toxic environment,” she said.

A lawyer who feels frustrated or resentful (no matter how junior or senior) will be well placed, Ms Gray submitted, if they can look to channel such emotions towards identifying a better solution for themselves.

The key, she said, “is for the lawyer to identify their unmet expectations and devise an effective approach for having powerful and trust-enhancing conversations with their colleagues”.

“When it comes to resentment, shifting the mindset of the person who feels they are the injured party of an unfairness is critical,” Ms Gray advised.

“As resentment thrives when there is a perceived power imbalance, the lawyer needs to feel empowered to address and resolve their concerns appropriately and productively.”

If such resentment is left to fester, Ms Gray warned, the emotions underpinning resenteeism “breed disconnection and separation in working relationships, stifling productivity and commitment and resulting in poor wellbeing”.

“Working with a professional coach who understands the legal industry ecosystem can create a significant shift for the employee and an incremental shift for the organisation as a whole,” she suggested.

This article was originally featured on 2 February in Lawyers Weekly.



Coaching differs from training in that it frequently focuses on a narrower range of abilities or jobs. This might be done as a part of personnel upskilling or performance management. Both internal trainers and outside coaches may carry out this task. Coaching occasionally includes assessments and performance feedback.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.