BY KIM BELLARD
I came across a phrase the other day that is so evocative, so delicious, that I had to write about it: “lazy girl job,” or, as you might know it. @#lazygirljob.
Now, before anyone gets too offended, it’s not about labeling girls as lazy; it’s not really even about lazy or even only girls. It’s about wanting jobs with the proverbial work-life balance: jobs that pay decently, don’t require crazy hours, and give employees flexibility to manage the other parts of their lives. Author Eliza Van Cort told Bryan Robinson, writing in Forbes: “The phrasing ‘lazy girl job’ is less than ideal—prioritizing your mental health and work-life integration is NOT lazy.”
The concept is attributed to Gabrielle Judge, who coined it on TikTok back in May (which is why I didn’t hear about it until recently). According to her, it means not living paycheck to paycheck or having to work in unsafe conditions. She believes job flexibility doesn’t mean coming in at 10 am instead of 9 am because you have a dentist appointment; it means you have more control over your hours and when you get your work done. If Sheryl Sandberg was all about “leaning in,” Ms. Judge is about leaning out.
Ms. Judge explained to NBC News:
Decentering your 9-to-5 from your identity is so important because if you don’t, then you’re kind of putting your eggs all in one basket that you can’t necessarily control. So it’s like, how can we stay neutral to what’s going on in our jobs, still show up and do them, but maybe it’s not 100% of who we are 24/7?
“I’m only accepting the soft life, period,” she says.
Danielle Roberts, another TikToker and who describes herself as an “anti-career” coach, told NBC News: “And rather than calling the people who are divesting from that system lazy, and telling them that they just need to work harder, we need to talk about why it’s a trend in the first place and go one level deeper.”
She went on to explain:
We’ve seen that the 40-hour work week is now outdated. We can produce the same amount of work, if not more work, in a fraction of the time. So wanting to keep those butts in seats, and not just for 40 hours, but for 40-plus hours, is just really a means of control. If you hired them, you should trust your employees to do their job and do it well.
It’s not only the work week that is outdated, but also the concept of loyalty. Ms. Judge told NBC Los Angeles: “The whole lazy girl job thing is a thing because it’s a two-way street. Like of course this is attractive to employees, but there’s a reason why this was caused and that’s because employers in general just can’t hold their weight when it comes to company loyalty like they used to be able to traditionally.”
Hailey Bouche, writing in The EveryGirl, makes an even stronger point:
Things like work-life balance and reasonable pay shouldn’t be considered luxuries. We all deserve jobs that give us access to the benefits, flexibility, and salary that we need to live a fulfilled life—and having or wanting a job that allows us all of those things does not make us lazy.
It’s a Gen Z thing, of course, as is/was “quiet quitting.” The cultural zeitgeist that was already bubbling up around all this got supercharged by the pandemic, when many people were forced to work from home and work suddenly seemed less important.
But this trend is broader than Gen Z girls or even Gen Z generally. A recent Gallop poll found that 6 in 10 workers admit they aren’t putting in maximum effort, and that their biggest complaint was workplace culture. As The Wall Street Journal headlined it last week: Workers to Employers: We’re Just Not That Into You.
The WSJ article cites a number of workplace trends, such as more employers are offering the option to work remotely, more employees are taking it, employees, employees are taking more vacation and have more options for paid time off. And, perhaps as a result, the Conference Board found that worker satisfaction rose sharply in 2022 and is now at its highest point since 1987.
Another WSJ article reported that companies that allowed at least one day or remote work per week increased staffing twice as fast as those requiring full-time office requirements. “One of the more straightforward potential explanations is that people put a really high value on being remote and generally having flexibility, so recruitment is likely quite a bit easier,” Emma Harrington, a University of Virginia economist, told WSJ.
President Biden evidently is missing out on the #lazygirlsjobs trend too, since he’s pushing to get federal workers back in the office by this fall. Other organizations and other CEOs feel the same, wanting things to go back to “normal,” or at least more directly under their control, in the office. But that genie may be out of the bottle.
There are plenty of lazy girl jobs in healthcare, or, at least, ones that could be. “Administrators” – whether they’re billing clerks, claims processors, marketing experts, or managers – far outnumber people actually delivering care in every part of the healthcare system, and there’s no reason many of those jobs couldn’t be made to qualify.
When it comes to the people delivering our care, though, we want them to be where we want them when we need them, for as long as we need them. Physicians, in particular, are known for working long hours, being responsible for life-and-death decisions, and suffering the stress with comes from all that. Well, no wonder physician burnout is a real problem, as it is for nurses and other front-line healthcare professionals.
Healthcare professionals haven’t fled their jobs in any great numbers yet, although the warnings are there. Healthcare doesn’t have its Gabrielle Judge yet, there’s no #lazydoctorjob meme (that I am aware of), but the societal trends that caused #lazygirljobs are going to impact healthcare too, and we better figure out what we want that to mean.
Kim is a former emarketing exec at a major Blues plan, editor of the late & lamented Tincture.io, and now regular THCB contributor