Something that happened when I was drinking with some of my friends.
All my close friends are now working adults, and we are all in step with each other. The one who joined the workforce last due to study abroad told me about "quiet quitting," an expression trending on TikTok that describes Generation Z.
"Quiet quitting" does not mean retiring; it means quitting to do more work than what is required of you. It does not imply not working or being lazy; rather, it means doing only what you are paid for or required to do.
This is what my boyfriend has been doing for a long time in the U.S. military.
Of course, their morning starts much earlier than in regular private businesses, but even so, he comes home at a time that makes me want to say, "Are you sure you can come home this early?”
He replied, "I've finished everything I had to do. I don't have anything else for today, so it’s better to just leave. That's why I came home. My boss seems busy, but his work is his, and mine is mine. Of course, I'll help if needed, but we're from different ranks, so what I can do is limited anyway."
Indeed, he was looking at me curiously when I was working so hard. “Why are you working so hard?” “Is that your task?” He asked me several times.
I had so much on my plate that I did not listen to his words at all, thinking, "Our work values are different from those of Americans!" But I would also say the following all the time: "My job isn’t worth the pay. If only the pay were higher. If there’s no big difference in what workers do at each job level, I would like a pay raise. I can't stand it when the younger workers have to work so hard while the older ones have it easy."
My friends say,
"I recognize how different things are when you have money, compared to when we were only students."
"After becoming a working adult, I realized that belonging to a company is all about how to get paid while easing up."
“My company gives promotions across the board, but it doesn't change the fact that I'm tired and just sleep on my days off. I don't have time to waste."
“Even if you have money, you spend it as much as you earn, and there’s no money left, so it's as broad as it is long.”
"The price of the clothes I can buy has gone up, which motivates me to work. I'm glad that I can get my nails done and that they look nice."
"It's important to have money, but I don't know what's the right thing to do when I see older people who work too hard and have torn their families apart."
Even though there were only five of us, our opinions differed so much.
Honestly, I have never felt happy to be a working adult since I started working. The reason I was able to work was that I was paid to do it. But when the number of tasks I had exceeded a certain number, or when I worked so much that I felt it was unfair compared to others around me, I went beyond the limit of my endurance that money could support.
I believe that "quiet quitting" strikes a chord with young business people who have become accustomed to society and who, like me, are likely to go beyond their limits before too long.
Adults like to give names to generations, such as the "Yutori-generation" and the "Satori-generation". Will we be named the "quiet quitting generation" who does not work hard? Name us whatever you want, as long as you keep in the back of your mind that each person has different values.
I think that "quiet quitting" itself is not a bad thing. Instead, I think it is a wonderful ability. It does not mean quitting or doing what is asked of you with 80% of your best effort. I think it is a great thing to be able to keep delivering 100% quality results in a short amount of time.
A lifestyle where you can work within a healthy schedule, have enough time for a fulfilling personal life, and maintain your mental and physical health could increase the benefits to society.
Indeed, in a society with a declining birthrate, the government may not be able to collect the same amount of taxes as it did during the period of high economic growth or the early 2000s, unless everyone works as many hours as they did previously.
However, if each person's mental and physical health gets undermined because of that, I think it is like putting the cart before the horse.
If healthy life expectancy is impaired due to long working hours, the number of people who can work will decrease rapidly.
The older generation may call me selfish, but I do not think it is wrong for us, who do not even know if we will receive a pension, to cherish the present and enjoy it a little bit. Is such a sense of value wrong?
I'm not saying that all of us in Generation Z do "quiet quitting." However, in this age with a 100-year lifespan, the years society expects us to work are likely to become longer than those of previous generations, so living this way is also a good option.
Yoshitani, R. 2022. 求められる以上の仕事はしない。Z世代に広がる働き方 "Quiet Quitting" とは？ BuzzFeed. https://www.buzzfeed.com/jp/rinyoshitani/quiet-quitting
Translated by Kyoko Itagaki
Edited by Emiru Okada
Graphics by Momoka Ando