The Dichotomy of “Side Hustles” and “Lazy Girl Jobs”: What They Reveal About the Youth

According to a recent survey by Deloitte, involving nearly 24,000 Gen Z and Millennials across 44 countries, approximately half of them (52% Gen Z and 49% Millennials) responded that they feel exhausted at work. This figure has increased by 5% compared to the same period in 2022. However, the survey also revealed that 40% of young people take on a side job in addition to their main employment. Others tend to focus on mental health and demand a more suitable workload. Do these seemingly contradictory trends have any common ground? Are young people currently facing an internal conflict?

Before delving into commonalities, let’s explore these recent employment trends in more detail.

I. “Side Hustles” – Busier with a Purpose

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Side hustles refer to additional jobs taken on alongside full-time employment. Unlike part-time work, where income is fixed, side hustles involve payment based on the amount of work done – the more you work, the more you earn, offering flexibility in terms of when and where the work is done.

According to the survey, young people view side hustles as an opportunity for personal development (27%), a hobby (24%), or a way to find some breathing space from their monotonous main jobs (24%).

II. Anti-work Movement – Battling Against Unpleasant Work Experiences

In a different trend, the anti-work movement has emerged as a demand for labor rights. It questions the efficiency of traditional 9-to-5 office hours and raises the issue of whether we should reduce working hours to encourage a better work-life balance.

Recently, the anti-work movement has resurfaced with the term “lazy girl jobs” on social media, aiming to resist work pressure and negative work environments. However, the terms “anti” or “lazy” often lead to misunderstandings that these movements encourage laziness.

In reality, those identifying with the “lazy” label are not avoiding work; rather, they seek to minimize unnecessary mental stress and set boundaries for themselves. This is largely because they feel that the work they do provides little value or demands too much compared to what they receive.

According to Harper’s Bazaar, the anti-work and lazy girl job movements serve as a declaration from the youth, acknowledging that in this era, giving one’s all may not bring the fulfillment that people used to expect.

III. Common Threads: A Quest for Balance

While these trends may seem contradictory on the surface, they share a common thread – a quest for balance. The younger generation is navigating a complex landscape where the traditional notions of work and success are being redefined.

The rise of side hustles reflects a desire for personal growth and flexibility. Young people are exploring diverse interests outside their main jobs, seeking meaning and fulfillment beyond a traditional career path. This trend suggests that the younger generation values a multidimensional approach to life and work.

On the other hand, the anti-work and lazy girl job movements convey a resistance to the conventional expectations of relentless dedication to work. They signify a realization that in the current era, pouring oneself entirely into work may not necessarily yield the rewards or satisfaction that previous generations experienced.

In essence, these trends signify a collective pushback against burnout and an acknowledgment that life is about more than just work. The younger generation is seeking a holistic approach that encompasses personal interests, mental well-being, and a realistic understanding of the value derived from their efforts.

IV. Redefining Work in the Modern Era

The juxtaposition of side hustles and the anti-work/lazy girl job movements paints a picture of a generation grappling with the evolving landscape of work. It reflects a nuanced understanding that work should align with personal values, offer meaning, and contribute positively to one’s life.

As we witness these trends unfold, it becomes clear that the youth are challenging traditional norms and asserting their need for balance, purpose, and fulfillment in their professional and personal lives. The future of work is being shaped by a generation that values not only the quantity but also the quality of their experiences, fostering a paradigm shift in how we perceive and approach our careers.

The Shared Goals of Side Hustles and Lazy Girl Jobs: A Quest for Autonomy and Quality of Life

The two contemporary trends, side hustles and the anti-work movement, seem initially at odds—one demanding more time commitment and the other encouraging less work for greater efficiency. However, the author of this article believes that both are ultimately converging towards a shared goal with several common points.

Towards a More Autonomous Culture:

  •    Side hustles offer us the freedom to choose the nature of our work. The anti-work movement helps reduce pressure, working hours, and unreasonable demands from superiors. Both aim for individuals to have more time for themselves to take charge of their lives.

Source: Sam Lion/ Pexels

Challenging Our Perceptions of Work:

  •    While the anti-work movement directly questions the effectiveness of the 9-to-5 work model, side hustles serve as an experimental ground for the younger generation to experience non-traditional work. Together, they form a theoretical-practical pairing that complements each other.

Responding to Economic Uncertainty:

  •    Both movements, whether pre-existing or recently formed, have emerged due to the instability in the job market. Young people adapt to inflation by creating additional income sources and securing their financial stability. Simultaneously, they strive to protect their jobs and the associated benefits.

Focus on Quality of Life:

  •    Ultimately, both groups are oriented towards a more humane approach, prioritizing human well-being.
  • Both perspectives question the essence of work and its role in our daily lives. Work is intertwined with life, sometimes even surpassing leisure time; thus, it should provide the most positive and meaningful experiences.

So, what defines a meaningful job?

Source: Michael Burrows/ Pexels

The definition of a meaningful job varies for each individual. It could be a job that satisfies achievement needs, helps assert one’s identity, or simply ensures financial security for a certain period. However, the lesson drawn from these two trends is that people have a need for autonomy and self-expression (self-actualization needs) in their work.

According to Gallup, women searching for “lazy girl” keywords mostly share that being able to do what they excel at is an essential factor in their job search. In other words, they are not seeking high-paying, light-duty jobs; instead, they look for moderately challenging roles that stimulate their productivity.

Research also shows that when you work in a role where you excel, it helps reduce stress and exhaustion in your job. You become more productive, motivated, and satisfied with the work you do.

Furthermore, a job that allows autonomy helps minimize the burden at work. The so-called “lazy” individuals mostly refer to injustice and ineffective communication with superiors. According to Gallup, these are the primary factors causing pressure.

Autonomy, beyond flexible time and workspace, also includes the plans and choices you make for yourself. Actively sharing with your boss about the issues you are facing, the benefits you need, or proposing a salary increase are actions that many Vietnamese people are still hesitant to take.

In conclusion, both side hustles and the anti-work/lazy girl job movements, despite their apparent differences, share a common aspiration for balance, purpose, and fulfillment in life and work. The evolving work landscape is being shaped by a generation that values not just the quantity but also the quality of their experiences, ushering in a new era in how we perceive and approach our careers.

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