Editor’s note: WRAL TechWire contributing writer Jen McFarland has 20+ years working in IT with experiences across a range of tools and technologies. She wants to help small businesses and teams design, improve, and maintain the technology that helps them succeed. In 2022, she incorporated Marit Digital.
RALEIGH — Apparently, I am a “lazy girl.”
Since I’m in my mid-forties it’s been a while since I’ve been called a “girl” with a straight face, but I’m not complaining. The designation, I’ve discovered, comes from the viral social media term, #lazygirljob, which was started in May and represents women who switched jobs (and sometimes industries) to find greater work-life balance. Kids, that’s me.
This is not the same as the wave of “quiet quitting” that was well-reported over the past few years. The so-called “lazy girls” aren’t avoiding work, but are looking for jobs that meet their criteria for flexibility, lower stress, and better hours. Income is still important, but according to Gallup data, women rank those concerns a distant third, behind other priorities when job seeking.
What Women Want
What are the biggest priorities for women considering their next role? A “greater work-life balance and personal well-being” is number one. Even more insightful, number two on the list is a job that “allows me to do what I do best.”
The lazy girls may have figured out a secret here: it turns out that doing what you do best reduces stress and helps alleviate burnout. Workers who love their work, are in workplace cultures that advocate the use of natural strengths, or those who experience “well-being” are significantly less likely to be stressed by their jobs. And those who reported all three had only a 1% chance of experiencing “high stress.”
So while it comes with a misleading label, the takeaway is that women aren’t seeking fewer challenges, but challenges that are more personally interesting, in roles they are passionate about.
Are there “lazy guys”?
While the men are also concerned about work-life balance, that consideration is “very important” to 58% of them, versus 69% for women. This may reflect the ways in which the last few years have affected men versus women.
During the pandemic, reports of burnout for working women jumped, while those numbers actually decreased for working men. Women frequently faced higher demands balancing work and home responsibilities during the pandemic and were also more likely to be concerned about the health impacts for themselves and their families. But even now, three years later, 33% of women report burnout “very often or always” compared with 25% of men.
(This is not a competition. Greater than 1 in 4 working individuals feeling burned out “very often or always” is far too high a number, in my opinion.)
So while men are certainly prioritizing well-being too, it doesn’t seem to be something they’re as willing to optimize for – or own on social media.
Since the “lazy girl job” term (which I am obligated to point out should grammatically be “lazy-girl job”) is a term originated by a woman, I don’t need to be offended at the use of the terms “lazy” or “girl.” The woman who coined the hashtag, TikToker Gabrielle Judge, has stated that she used the term “satirically” to emphasize the point that a healthy work-life balance is often considered selfish or lazy.
When I was a kid my “dream job” didn’t include qualifiers like good mental health, working from home, or the ability to go pick up my kid from school. But grown-up me discovered through a series of jobs in various industries that burnout is real and “flexibility” in practice doesn’t always look the way it’s promised in the interview. It took more than 20 years and starting my own business to find the job that “allows me to do what I do best.” At this point, I have a job doing challenging work I enjoy, have time for my family, and enjoy professional and emotional well-being.
It’s starting to seem like being a “lazy girl” is pretty smart.