Do Millennials Just Wanna Be Us?

How do today’s workers get away with quiet quitting? Who does the work?

There is a new attitude in the workplace and I’m envious. We’re all familiar with the quiet quitting phenomenon. Employees have embraced the practice of doing the minimum amount of work while still managing to keep their jobs. It’s a variation of work to rule.

The new slant on this slacker attitude is called lazy girl working. Get a job with minimal demands that allows you to legitimately bypass stress, responsibility, and long hours. Where was this philosophy when I was still toiling in the corporate world? If only I’d been able to slack off, it wouldn’t have been necessary for me to retire early from burnout.

Another familiar expression baby boomers worked with is, if you want a job done, give it to the busiest person. We took pride in working our asses off for the betterment of the company and for our own self-worth. Boomers were raised by The Greatest Generation who survived The Great Depression in the 1930s and went to war for our freedom in the 1940s. Hard work and sacrifice were revered. The lessons stuck.

Boomers certainly did not work as hard or as selflessly as our parents but we sure did our share. Most of us worked part-time jobs in high school and when we went into the workplace full-time, we took pride in being conscientious and committed to being good employees. We are probably the last generation that included individuals who might have spent most of their entire careers working for one company.

This dedication to employment and supporting our workplace team led to long hours, work travel and grinding commutes that often conflicted with the demands of family life. Our offspring, Gen X, Y, and Z, the Millennials took note. They did not want their families to suffer the absence of a workaholic mother or father. By the time they entered the working world, they insisted on a greater work/life balance. And, they got it.

Has the pendulum swung too far? With the comforts and convenience of working from home and no reward for employee loyalty anymore, today’s workers have revolutionized the workplace environment. Quiet quitting is quietly condoned. Lazy girl attitudes have replaced selling your soul to your employer.

What I would like to know is how does the work get done? Are there fewer tasks? A lighter workload? More staff? How do lazy girls get away with it?  Sorry boss. I can’t get that big proposal out by 3:00 p.m. I’m busy looking for the best deal on sheets on Amazon. By the way, I’ll be leaving early. I have a hair appointment.

The workplace environment experienced by boomers back in the last century was vastly different from today. Did we miss out on the good life?

I remember working in the early 1970s as a secretary for several executives, one of whom wrote around forty letters a day. In addition to doing his job, this guy would back up every single phone call with a letter that needed to be typed, “This is to confirm our conversation of today’s date . . . “.  I would sit at my old IBM Selectric typewriter into the evening hours typing away (with layers of carbon paper copies) because if I didn’t get all those letters done and out, there would be an extra load of fifty or sixty to do the next day.

Later on in my career, I was promoted and took on more responsibility. Naturally, that meant more work—late nights, deadlines, all-nighters, and accelerated stress levels. Business travel with expense accounts sounds glamorous but believe me, it is not. I was too proud to ask for more staff in case I was perceived as being unable to do the job. It’s a familiar boomer story, particularly for women who juggled family and children in the mix, often with little help.

A lazy girl job is nice if you can get it but I would like to think there are very few jobs out there that are totally stress-free.

Things are different now and I must say I am envious of today’s working environment. There is more recognition of the demands of personal and family life and the importance of attracting and keeping good employees by addressing and providing flexible work/life balance. Some people purposely take lazy girl jobs that require little effort and make no demands. The salaries are usually lower but there’s merit in sparing your health and sanity in this crazy world.

Patience has its rewards. It’s called retirement and it’s our reward for all those years of working and answering to someone else. I have finally mastered quiet quitting by doing the absolute minimum demanded of me. When I want to nap, I nap. When I want to stop everything and eat ice cream on the job, I stand at the kitchen counter (working from home is lovely) and indulge. If I want an extra-long lunch hour or want to knock off early to read my book, I can.

No chore is too onerous because I now have options. That is why my basement never gets cleaned out, I get up whenever I damn well feel like it, and the ironing can wait. My lazy girl boss—also me—is very understanding of my limitations. My goals, my daily schedule, my deadlines, and my accountability are all entirely set by me—the consummate lazy boomer girl—not to be confused with idle. Finally, my work and my life are in balance. We have achieved total harmony. I’m thinkin’ millennials just wanna be us.

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