“Lazy Girl Jobs,” Quiet Quitting and Doing the Bare Minimum: Why Gen Z and Millennials Are Pushing Back Against Hustle Culture
In recent years, there’s been a growing number of trends that push back against the grind culture that’s been so prevalent in today’s workplace. We’ve seen workers advocating for work-life balance, prioritizing self-care and asking for mental health benefits, among other things.
With the addition of the latest trend to hit news headlines—”lazy girl jobs”—as well as the news that 60% of the workforce is quiet quitting, it was perfect timing to review some of the major workplace trends of the past year and speak to both millennials and Gen Zers about their thoughts on hustle culture and the future of work.
What is the “lazy girl jobs” trend?
“Lazy girl jobs”, a phrase first published in The Wall Street Journal, is the latest in a slew of viral catchphrases about work.
A “lazy girl job” is a position that pays a living wage but allows the employee a work-life balance. Wanting to have a fair balance between your personal life and your work life is, of course, not lazy at all—but that’s part of the point. When compared to the more traditional, “work-work-work” mentality, having a job that you leave at work can be seen as lazy.
Many of the movements we’ve seen so far this year, like quiet quitting and Bare Minimum Mondays, involve pushing back on the notion that employees should dedicate all of themselves, all of the time, to work. Gen Z, in particular, has been working hard to eliminate the shame that many people feel for not wanting their lives to revolve around work.
Major workplace trends of 2023 (so far)
Read on for a quick recap of the biggest trends we’ve seen to date.
This summer, the person who coined the term “quiet quitting” went a step further and truly quit his job, noting that disengaging from your work isn’t a solution to deeper issues, like a toxic workplace or unhealthy company culture.
Quiet hiring refers to the practice of companies recruiting employees either internally, through referrals, or via contract/freelance workers. These positions are not posted or advertised. There are pros and cons to accepting a “quiet hire” position; it can be an opportunity to build your skill set, but it could also lead to more work for the same pay.
The amount of people in the workforce who hold multiple jobs—including multiple full-time positions—is on the rise. Particularly in tech, workers have found that they’re able to complete all of their job duties to satisfaction and still have time left to take care of a second (or third) job.
Bare minimum Mondays
Bare Minimum Mondays are when employees focus on completing only the essential tasks; Mondays are a day to ease back into work after a weekend off. The idea is that workers can start their work weeks with a clear, focused mindset.
AI-proofing your career
With advancements in technology, many workers are feeling the need to adapt and future-proof their careers. Taking on new learning and upskilling opportunities can be a way to push for job security in an increasingly AI-driven world.
As remote and hybrid work has become the new norm, we’ve seen a big disconnect between managers and their teams. According to one Microsoft study, only 12% of leaders have full confidence their team is productive, while 87% of employees feel they are productive at work.
Managers may suffer from productivity paranoia and attempt to monitor their employees more closely, leading to anxiety for workers.
The bigger story: resistance toward hustle culture
It’s not news that Gen Z is tired of hustle culture—and other generations are feeling the strain, too. We chatted with three different workers to uncover their thoughts about current workplace trends.
Perspective 1: Gen Z consultant
Danielle Farage, a consultant at Gen Z Corporate Talent, acknowledges that many of these trends have been around forever. Today’s quiet quitting could be yesterday’s “coasting at work,” and so on. What is new is Gen Z’s continued emphasis on harsher boundaries.
“Gone are the days where we’re sold on a 9-5 that ends up being a 6-8—or worse,” she emphasizes. “You could choose to interpret these trends as ‘extreme’ or ‘entitled’ OR you could be curious and ask, ‘What are these trends saying about what this generation feels they need to succeed? How can we best support each individual given limited time and resources?'”
Danielle believes Gen Z wants more transparency in the workplace, meaningful work, and environments that sustain and support all aspects of employee health. As someone who experienced burnout immediately after college graduation, she hopes that we learn to respect each other as humans—not just workers.
“Work doesn’t exist without the people making the work happen,” she points out. “The best skills we can learn are around emotional and social intelligence because the better we treat each other, the better the work ends up being.”
Perspective 2: Pro-union millennial
One millennial, who prefers to remain anonymous, works for a legal non-profit as a senior administrative assistant. He sees hustle culture as a “new fad in capitalist exploitation that glamorizes work.” In his view, these trends have always been around.
“When we’re alienated from our labor, eventually we all put forth the bare minimum,” he explains. “Many of us are in jobs that bring no meaning to lives and certainly don’t have the pay commensurate with the value we create as workers.”
“However,” he points out, “The media hype around them is calculated to emphasize individual action vs. a collective approach. Bosses don’t care what you do as an individual; they don’t mind a quiet quitter. They fear organizing and unions more than anything else. If you really want to change things at work and make your life better, organize and fight. You’ll win.”
He points to ongoing strikes and unionizations as evidence that we’re on the cusp of an organizing boom that has the potential to address the root issues presented by hustle culture.
Perspective 3: Elder millennial seeking systemic change
Sarah Gottesdiener, owner of The Moon Studio, started her own company in 2012 after realizing she was always going to be underearning or overworking when it came to working for someone else; she simply wasn’t going to be supported in the ways she needed to be at work.
“The world loses a lot of brilliance and innovation by ignoring and not supporting a lot of trans folks, non-binary people, women, BIPOC, poor people, and other systemically oppressed groups,” she says.
Sarah went on to unconsciously apply many of the capitalist ideals she wanted to get away from in her own business, overworking herself and prioritizing others above her own needs. In 2021, she got Long Covid and officially burned out. These days, she’s slowing things down as she considers her next move, whether it’s downsizing her business or accepting freelance work.
When asked about the current workplace trends, she says, “The fact that so many people can’t find fulfilling work should make us question the greater systems at play, not the people. I have a queer punk background, where it’s understood that corporations don’t have your best interests in mind, so it’s interesting to see this become common knowledge.”
However, the irony is not lost on Sarah that now, as a business owner, she wants her workers to be engaged and care about their work! To that end, she tries to create a respectful, considerate workspace for everyone.
Finally, Sarah echoes the first millennial’s desire for more unionization. “What I wish quiet quitters would do, if they have capacity, is to organize. We need a sea change in this country around labor and work, and the more folks join in, the higher chance of that happening.”
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