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How is Gen Z redefining ‘work hustle’ in 2022?

Almost two-thirds of young people have their sights set on launching a business, and just under half have multiple side projects and freelance opportunities, according to Microsoft. It’s a result of stagnant wages and harder living conditions as goods become more expensive.

If you’ve spent any reasonable amount of time on TikTok, you’ll probably have stumbled on at least a few millennial ‘hustle’ or ‘money making’ videos that promote long working hours, freelancing, and lifting heavy weights at the gym.

As Gen Z becomes a larger portion of the population’s work force they bring new ideas and attitudes to established employment models. Such is the case with ‘hustle’ culture. Where once it was seen as an envious flex of productivity and career-focused determination, it has since become a basic necessity in order for young people to survive in a tough economic environment.

Rent, bills, food prices, and cost of goods are all rising exponentially. For many Gen Zers (including this one), almost half of their salaries are used for living expenses – making freelance and extra projects a must rather than a luxury of having your life together.

So, how are young people redefining the idea of ‘hustling’ in 2022? Let’s jump into it.

Side business work is still very much in fashion

It shouldn’t come as too much of a shock, but side hustles and extra freelance work remain very much in fashion with Gen Z.

Microsoft’s survey found that just under half of young people have multiple side projects, with 48% saying they work on extra freelance opportunities. To that end, a whopping 91% of Gen Z entrepreneurs said they work unconventional hours.

Social media has very much overlapped with this drive for work. Entrepreneurs who use TikTok for business are almost twice as likely to have side hustles, for example.

One of the biggest shifts between millennials and Gen Z is the reason for these side hustles, however. While it’s true that older folks have lived through recession and political turmoil, they were also lucky enough to be young people during a time of relatively stable economic growth in the noughties.

Gen Z have never known a world where wages weren’t stagnating.

The employment market has continuously become more competitive, with lower wages, more unpaid internships, further wealth divide, and harder entry qualification processes. Couple this with rising bills and you’ve a generation that need extra sources of income on the side, rather than doing so out of choice.

How are business hours changing?

Young people are looking for personal meaning in their day-to-day lives, and this mindset extends to their work.

Gen Z has seen the devastating environmental effects of capitalism first hand and understand that the world cannot sustainably continue with an ‘exponential growth’ approach.

This impacts our decisions and personal choices when it comes to career, relationships, and work. Hustling for our own businesses or, at the very least, working for employers we have moral faith in is hugely important. As a result, we’re less likely to all be working at the same pace and schedule.

The pandemic brought lockdowns and Zoom calls for many. Tons of companies now offer remote work, or a hybrid model that only has employees in office a few times a week. This more fluid, dynamic schedule also encourages a shake up in regular working hours, which Gen Z respond to well.

Microsoft’s study found that many Gen Z workers were ‘re-evaluating personal and professional goals’ and that they prefer to work at their own pace. Some firms and corporations have been testing new routine hours. 2022 saw the largest ever trial of a four day week in order to experiment with employee productivity.

There is a sense across the board that changing working hours to better suit individual needs is the way forward. This extends to Gen Z, who are already feeling the effects of burnout in early adulthood thanks to constant news exposure, climate threats, political unrest, and weakening economies.

An evolved working schedule that offers more personal time could become a normality as young people take over working spaces. This provides ample opportunity for side hustles too.

The steady increase in ‘quiet quitting’

Speaking of burnout, you may have read about the recent surge in ‘quiet quitting’ from young people.

This is the idea that you remain working for your employer but simply do the bare minimum, rejecting the conventional ‘hustle’ attitude that promotes extra responsibilities, working overtime, and defining self-worth by your productivity.

Gen Z is more receptive to open conversation about the ethics of hustle culture and whether it’s even healthy to engage with at all.

This makes sense given that many younger people feel comfortable discussing their mental health struggles and emotional sensitivities at a time when large portions of the world’s work force struggle to feel invested in their employer.

A study by Gallup called the ‘State of the Global Workplace’ from 2022 found that only 21% of employees are engaged at work. 44% feel stress throughout their workday. 33% of employees say they’re ‘thriving’ in their overall wellbeing. Those are low numbers.

It’s no surprise then that many of us are simply outright dismissing hustle ideals entirely. If working extra is not a necessity, why accept it as a reality at all? Launching businesses and being your own employer may be Gen Z ambitions, but they’re likely to be realised in ways that don’t succumb to the usual trappings of ‘hustle culture’.

We’re ‘hustling’ at our own rate, in our own ways, and the new work routines we’ve become accustomed to are facilitating this change.