March 15, 2024

We’re not ‘lazy’, technology has simply made jobs easier and more profitable

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Timur Boranbayev in London, United Kingdom

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One of the Gen Z statements is to fight for better-paid jobs. On the photo fast food workers held a strike meeting, demanding a minimum wage, at London's Leicester Square on Thursday 4th October 2018.

Picture by: Garry Knight

“Lazy,” “entitled,” “careless” and “lacklustre” are just some of the words used to describe my generation. But is Gen Z deserving of such names or are these just amplified misconceptions?

Gen Z, those born between 1997 to 2012, apparently “can’t understand the value of hard work.” They are described as being “less hard-working” employees who are “entitled” and inclined “to do nothing.”

But is that really the case or is it just a misunderstanding? Gen Z is innovative, creative and resourceful. They have used social media and technology to ‘work smarter and not harder’. Something that doesn’t make Gen Z lazy or “self-obsessed” but just shows that times are changing, the world is advancing and we should too. Hard work should not be judged by the amount of effort and time spent on labour but skill.

The rise of technology has given more opportunities to people in general, with new jobs allowing my generation to utilise this freedom and for them to work in ways the previous generations could not.

Some people believe Gen Z have become lazy as a result of the luxury of possessing vast access to technology, meaning we choose to indulge in endless scrolling on social media and absorb the ‘shallow hypothesis’ (a decline in daily reflective thought as a result of brief social media interactions). This has caused many to criticise our work ethic and our decision to refuse traditional 9-to-5 jobs.

A popular TikTok trend of “don’t dream of labour” during the pandemic highlighted this, where Gen Z has said they don’t want to work jobs that are ‘underpaid, underappreciated, and overworked’. It is further fuelled by the fact that when Gen Z do work these types of jobs, they are calling in sick more often that other generations.

As someone guilty of activities deemed as lazy such as endless scrolling, I would like to point out that the majority of Gen Z is not inactive as some may think. The rise of technology and social media has contributed to a new wave of generating greater income, where people are working more efficiently.

Our genuine lack of interest in low-paying, physically demanding jobs such as fast-food workers, restaurant servers and cashiers in shops is down to emerging, alternative money-making activities that better benefit people, our society and the government.

Instead of traditional jobs, young people can now choose thousands of ways to make money such as investing in stocks, cryptocurrencies, Non-Fungible-Tokens (NFTs), dropshipping, or being a social media influencer. Technological advances also paved the way for hybrid and remote working during the pandemic, vastly preferred by Gen Z to in-person workplaces.

The internet has empowered and transformed the way we gain information in ways that were never imagined before its evolution. I believe that this has given young people the freedom to explore different ventures of making money tailored to their interests.

As President Franklin D. Roosevelt wisely put it, “happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.” Research has found that single earners in low-wage employment report lower job satisfaction. This includes industries such as hospitality which, according to the Living Wage Foundation (LWF), found that the sector had the highest rate of low-paid work with 48% of jobs paid below the real Living Wage.

The Cost of Living Crisis: Financial impact on young people

Low-paying jobs, which often require higher physical demands, are therefore not the most suitable and attractive option for young people.

Other issues such as the cost of living crisis, high student debt, and the lack of access to healthcare benefits have also contributed to corporate rejection attitudes among the younger generation.

This raises a debatable question – are Gen Z actually “lazy” or do new ways of making income through technology and financial markets mean young people are actually taking advantage of the opportunities on offer to them?

But, this is not to say that I am fully advocating for all young people to opt out of traditional jobs and start their own businesses as there are many problems this could cause.

The obvious one is that it is very difficult to become successful in these types of industries. Building a sustainable online business can take many years of patience and hard work to see actual returns.

This drop in younger workers in said industries could negatively hit both the UK and global labour force causing an impact on firms that would need to find and employ workers to fill the shortfall.

Employers would be forced to make job vacancies more attractive by offering higher pay. This would have severe disadvantages on their costs which would spill over to the consumers in the form of higher prices for the goods or services they provide.

Personally, I believe everyone should be taking hold of the opportunities available without fear of prejudice of them not being considered “proper jobs,” while acknowledging that there is a need to fill the more ‘traditional’ jobs in order to have a functioning society.

Should Gen Z have to take up low-paid jobs out of fear of doing things differently to previous generations?

Written by:

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Timur Boranbayev

Economics Section Editor

London, United Kingdom

Born in 2005 in Berlin, Germany to a Kazakh family, Timur now studies in the UK.

Timur speaks Russian and English and learns Kazakh. He chose Economics, Politics, and History for his A-levels, having completed his GCSE exams in the summer.

He started in Harbingers’ Magazine with articles about sports – football is his favourite discipline  – to move to become the Economics Section editor in 2023.

Edited by:

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Sofiya Tkachenko

former Editor-in-chief

Kyiv, Ukraine | Vienna, Austria

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