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What Is Gen Z Funemployment?

“If you can’t get a job, you might as well joke about it, right?”

7-year-old Shravya quit her high-powered consultancy job in May. Upon seeing her friends’ concerned and confused reactions to her joblessness, the New York resident felt confused about what direction to take with her life.

She had worked there for five years and the hustle culture was ingrained in her mentality. Instead of caving into the anxiety, she joked that she was funemployed.

Funnily enough, this buzzword began as a typo and ended up shooting up in usage in the past few years. It’s the “it is what it is” of the young workforce. Many funemployed don’t find the experience particularly funny, but make light of it, understanding that stress will not find them a job overnight. It’s the reality of job hunting in a trying market.

Professor Suzy Welch from the New York University’s Stern School of Business explained how the funemployed take the time between jobs to improve their mental health, go on vacation using their severance packages, and travel the world.

Does this promote joblessness? 

Not necessarily. It’s more of an antithesis towards hustle culture. Gen Zers have a short-term view of their jobs and don’t feel as linked to their employers as past generations have. The current market situation and corporative attitude toward employees might have set the stage for this trend.

Take the recent tech layoffs from big companies like Google, Meta, Amazon, and others as examples. 

In an instant, tens of thousands of employees were laid off from these companies, some with juicy severance packages, others with no more than a corporate email and disabled computer log-ins. 

While most of these laid-off employees were in the millennial generational range, it gave off an impression to the growing Gen Z workforce. The result? Gen Z cares little about working for tarnished tech firms. Companies many Gen Z students dreamed of working for have implemented hiring freezes, especially in junior positions. Many of them opted for student loans for their chosen major, applied to a hundred positions on LinkedIn, and still weren’t given a chance.

Some of them believe the corporate world doesn’t care for their well-being, that

managers are more than willing to exploit them and will lay them off without a shred of guilt whenever it’s convenient for them.

On the other hand, older generations tend to call Gen Z members lazy or uninterested in work, and this seems backed up by a survey of 1,300 managers, which had three out of four agreeing that Gen Z is harder to work with than other generations. 65% of employers reported firing them more often than other employees, and one in eight even let them go on their first week.

Seems like ​​If the job doesn’t provide them with agency, rouse their interest, or engage them with what matters most to them, chances are Gen Zers will make a hard pass on most workplaces.

This is a generation that has grown up through war, financial crises, the pandemic, and terrorist attacks. They’ve been on the receiving end of the consequences of the choices made by past generations.

It might be that funemployment is more of a coping mechanism towards the current job market situation, than a modern-day buzzword for hedonism. 

After all, what better way to deal with the anxiety-inducing waiting stage after submitting a job application, than a vacation?

But knowing that Gen Z is not a homogenous mass of young adults, the mileage may vary on what’s their opinion on work. Markets are tough, finding jobs is harder than ever, and housing costs are at an all-time high. Not everyone can afford prolonged unemployment, and the trend seems to be best harnessed by those with the resources to take the time off.

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