The latest TikTok fad seems to involve combining "girl" with a host of other words to communicate a concept or movement. There's #GirlMath aka the justifications women use to spend on non-essentials. There's #GirlDinner, which is dinner for one that looks like a chaotic plate of what you want or leftovers or essentially riffing on a charcuterie board. Then we have the recent #GirlHammer trend in which TikTokers complete a handyman task without the use of a hammer, such as using a rolling pin to bang a nail into a wall. Some of these trends are silly. Some are helpful. But the one facing the most backlash is the #LazyGirlJob. It's a term that's united elder millennials, Gen X and boomers against Gen Z because what does an early 20-something know about burn out and struggling with work-life balance?
Honestly, maybe we should take a cue from Gen Z on this one.
A lazy girl job focuses on the holy trinity of fair pay, only working within your defined hours and flexibility such as remote work. There's an air of irreverence with the term lazy in this context. People are still doing their jobs, but they're aiming to find jobs that fit into their overall lifestyle design -- which means more than just fixating on a career. The elusive balance of being able to leave work at work and not be pinged by your manager at 8.30pm or get an urgent call while on vacation. As a woman who started my career during the era of #GirlBoss and #HustleHarder, this is a refreshing change of pace and probably much better for our collective mental health.
Of course, the word lazy makes it sound like the aim is to find a job with no career trajectory. You're clocking in, doing what's required and clocking out to go live your best life. This is certainly how some people are interpreting the trend, which nestles nicely under last year's viral #QuietQuitting. A lazy girl job isn't the same as quiet quitting. The latter is about putting in the bare minimum to not get fired or even withholding your abilities on the job. A lazy girl job isn't about minimum effort, but about boundaries.
Frankly, I see this as an excellent idea with a branding problem. The difficulty with branding a concept is that you want it to be catchy and memorable, but going for irreverence can obscure the actual meaning of a movement. And this is from a woman who created a financial literacy brand called Broke Millennial.
There are moments when it seems as though Gen Z has become jaded far too young. Gen X were known as cynics too, but Gen Z has had more access to information than the two generations prior. Gen X and millennials were sold and bought into similar dreams about achieving a comfortable life if you just get a college degree and work hard. Perhaps Gen Z saw that millennials hustled and still couldn't get a toehold to build a stable life. Even after following the rules, they were barely able to keep from drowning in financial obligations.
Some millennials, and younger Gen Xers, responded to a rigged game by joining the Financial Independence Retire Early, or Fire, movement. That meant working even harder and living frugally to amass the wealth needed to opt out. Gen Z decided to be more chill. Part of me believes that being the first generation truly raised in the digital era and on the internet, they're simply doing what youth internet culture does best: trolling.
The lazy girl job jabs at the heart of capitalism, pushing back against deeply entrenched beliefs about work and career. It's about setting boundaries around time and prioritising mental health. It's only working the hours for which a person is fairly compensated. It's opting out of mind-numbing, senseless meetings. It's demanding companies evolve to the reality of today by offering more flexibility because a lot of jobs don't need people physically in an office five days a week. The lazy girl job is Gen Z's answer to Fire, but it just feels less ambitious.
One significant criticism is that the lazy girl job is only available to some. There are careers that simply cannot -- or currently do not -- offer a healthy work-life balance. This is true for professions like doctors or lawyers and many working-class jobs. Tip workers certainly don't have the luxury of living that lazy-girl-job life. To add insult to injury, the generation likely to tip the worst are the lazy girls themselves -- Gen Z. Only 35% tip at sit-down restaurants, according to a BankRate survey.
Another criticism is that seeming lack of ambition. No matter which generation you spring from, you'll spend a significant percentage of your life working. Depending on your hours, you'll probably spend almost 10 years in meetings, answering emails and sitting at your desk. It's good to have challenges and not become too mired in routine. Yes, I'm a millennial who largely supports this particular Gen Z trend, but here's a little unsolicited advice: It's shockingly easy to stop learning and growing as you age. Gen Z should be careful to not tap out too soon. ©2023 Bloomberg LP
Erin Lowry is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering personal finance. She is the author of the three-part 'Broke Millennial' series.