Gen Zers have had enough. We’re tired of working, tired of the never-ending rat race, and tired of trying to follow an outdated career path that clearly no longer works. Can you really blame us? Living costs are rising beyond belief, around 70 per cent of gen Zers don’t believe they will ever be able to own a home, there is a looming fear that a lot of jobs will inevitably be replaced by AI anyway, and it simply no longer feels like hard work pays off.
Our parents’ generation—Gen X as well as Boomers—were presented with a magic formula they could follow in exchange for ‘guaranteed’ success. Work hard in school, achieve good grades, and then go to university. Fun fact: in the UK, university tuition fees were completely free up until 1998. Next couple of steps? Work hard on your degree, graduate, and land a respectable job. Knuckle down and climb the corporate ladder with diligence, buy a house, a car, save money, etc. And for many of them, it worked.
Then, they tried to encourage millennials to do the same. Of course, nobody could predict the future, and unfortunately for them, millennials had to strive to follow these same steps under very different conditions. Over the years, the costs of living expenses have skyrocketed while earnings have not, houses have become unaffordable for most people, and to top it all off, they had to live through a global pandemic, three recessions, and an immensely unstable job market. Last but certainly not least, university fees around the globe have increased drastically, leaving hundreds of thousands of people in debt.
Us gen Zers grew up seeing so many of our millennial counterparts get completely screwed over by this, and as a result, it led many of us to give up on trying to follow this ‘formula’, or even attempt to strive towards a path of traditional work and career success. After all, it’s clear to say that not everyone can reap the benefits of hard work anymore.
Of course, that does not mean that all gen Zers are quitting working completely—unfortunately, bills still exist, and they still need to get paid too. Instead, gen Z are redefining how they approach work, and developing a series of new trends in order to try and make their jobs work for them, not the other way around. So what are these trends?
You might have seen #lazygirljob appear on your TikTok FYP recently—the lazy girl job is defined as something corporate but with low stakes. This is typically a regular nine-to-five position with no expectations (or needs) to work beyond these hours. It’s usually fully remote, involves some type of administrative duties, is paid relatively well, and is stress-free.
Currently, the hashtag for the work trend has over 16.5 million views on TikTok. One of the trailblazers behind the now full-blown movement is Gabrielle Judge, also known as ‘The Anti Work Girlboss’. In one of her videos, she explained that the lazy girl job is “basically something that you can quiet quit,” another work-related trend that was ideated by fed-up gen Zers which I’ll get into very soon.
“There are lots of jobs out there where you could make like 60K to 80K (USD), so like pretty comfortable salaries, and not do that much, work and be remote. Most of them are non-technical tech roles such as marketing associate, some type of account manager, and customer success manager. They’re equitable, they’re paying pretty well, paying your cost of living, so it’s safe in that way. You’re not risking your life per se, there’s no staying out late at night. Having a job where you can truly exercise work-life balance,” Judge went on to state.
The lazy girl job trend is the polar opposite of the girlboss, the ‘SheEO’, you name it. While millennial women were encouraged to break that glass ceiling, ‘get the bag’, ‘get that bread’, climb the ladder and make as much money as possible, gen Z women are empowering themselves to establish a healthy work-life balance, and learn not to derive their value, self-worth, or happiness from their careers.
Having an approach to your work through the ‘lazy girl job’ lens is perhaps a good way to avoid burnout, and a healthy manner to build boundaries with work. Imagine not having an emotional attachment to the labour you produce, or not taking work-related matters personally.
However, that does not mean that the lazy girl job trend doesn’t come without its fair share of concerns. As much as we can all romanticise having chill and, dare I say, uninteresting and unexciting (to us) jobs, it’s also important to remember that if you are in traditional full-time employment, a really large chunk of your time during the week will be spent working.
This is why so many people are encouraged to pursue their true passions. But in this economy, it’s unrealistic to assume everyone can find a job they genuinely love. Additionally, not everyone discovers their passions this early on in life, plus not everybody’s passions are something that can be monetised or monopolised.
In response to the criticism of the trend, Judge explained in another video that a lazy girl job is not necessarily one where you are quote-unquote “lazy,” but rather a job that “should be paying your bills and allow you to have so much of a work-life balance, that you should feel as almost you’re operating in a lazy state because it should be so shocking to you because you live in a work-centric nation.”
The use of the word lazy in this trend is interesting, and definitely says a lot about our work-obsessed culture. After all, since when was prioritising life outside of work synonymous with being lazy?
Some experts are claiming that a lot of lazy girl jobs are at risk of eventually being replaced by AI, and there is definitely something to be said about the fact that perhaps going online in front of millions of people and declaring your job a “lazy job” is probably not the best look in front of your employer. Nonetheless, this just goes to show how fed up many gen Zers are, and how little they actually care about the repercussions that may come as a result of this. Honestly, that sounds pretty gen Z to me.
In many ways, the lazy girl job trend is a continuation of the quiet quitting trend. If you need a refresher, don’t fret, we’ve got you. Quiet quitting is a trend where you don’t actually quit a job in which you might be feeling unhappy, undervalued or unappreciated, but rather you concede to keep that position, only you do so by putting in minimal work. You complete what is required of you, but you refuse to go above and beyond, and you absolutely refuse to do anything that falls outside of your actual job description.
Unlike quiet quitting, conscious quitting is a gen Z work trend used to actually describe the act of quitting one’s job, but with intention. Typically, you would do this if you felt that the business or its work-life culture no longer matched your ideals or morals. This could be anything from the company’s stance on sustainability, diversity, or politics.
It is estimated that a whole two-thirds of British workers (of all ages) are anxious about the future of humanity, and want to work at a company that strives to make the world a better and more positive place. With gen Zers often described as the most socially conscious generation, this should come as no surprise.
This trend has also been followed by ‘The Great Resignation’—a time in 2022 when more than 50 million US workers quit their jobs since the government started keeping track in 2000. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of thousands of people re-evaluated the purpose of work in their life, leading many to quit. However, it’s been reported that in 2023 so far, far fewer people have been resigning, with the number of quits decreasing by 3.9 million.
Job hopping, which is also known as job switching, refers to a current trend in which gen Zers (as well as millennials) change jobs and workplaces roughly every 12 to 36 months. This is done for a variety of reasons; boredom, lack of appreciation, as well as some crafty individuals using it as a method to increase their salaries by negotiating higher pay with their next employers.
Unlike previous generations such as Boomers and Gen Xers, many of whom actively stayed in the same workplace for 15+ years and worked up the ladder there, many gen Zers report that they don’t really see the value of remaining loyal to a company. With the number of layoffs seen across industries and multiple revelations of toxic workplaces or unfair treatment across the board, it also comes as no surprise that young people are opting out.
‘Hush trips’ or ‘secret digital nomads’ is a trend in which workers who are allowed to work remotely but not allowed to work in a different city or country—oftentimes workplaces may not allow you to work from a foreign country due to tax reasons, data concerns, or simply because they don’t feel you will be able to focus—ignore these rules and go work in another country in secret.
Many workers use this as an opportunity to travel and work at the same time, without having to use up any of their annual leave. Usually, they cover this up by blurring their backgrounds if on Zoom calls, and continuing to work as normal.
The term ‘moonlighting’ is used to refer to someone who’s secretly working two or more remote jobs. While this would be near-impossible to pull off in a hybrid or an entirely office-based role, those ‘moonlighting’ will sometimes be logged on on multiple devices, be connected in multiple Slack channels at once, and balance calls and meetings based on their multiple workplaces. In return, of course, if they manage to pull this off, they will be able to receive multiple salaries.
And surprisingly, people seem to be pulling it off. According to a study conducted by Forbes, around 50 per cent surveyed admitted to juggling multiple jobs, and not having confessed this to their employers. This, of course, is immensely risky, but if we’ve learned anything from these trends, gen Zers aren’t exactly risk-averse.
A lot of these trends attempt to romanticise mundane corporate work, while others dismiss it altogether. Either way, one thing is for sure: by 2025, gen Zers are expected to make up 27 per cent of the global workforce and things will need to change. Gen Zers deeply value a healthy work-life balance, so say goodbye to hustle culture and girlbossing, and hello to a lazy, lazy life.