- Claire, a 22-year-old cashier, does the job she was hired to do – nothing more, nothing less.
- More people are embracing “keeping their pay” by not doing work outside of their job description.
- She said Gen Z has a different approach to work and more separation from employers.
Claire, 22, is used to dealing with understaffing.
The grocery store cashier said her store would likely need about 40 cashiers to be fully staffed. When she joined last October, there were about 12.
“I worked six, seven days a week for months because nobody seemed to be able to stay,” Claire, whose last name is known to Insider but fears professional repercussions, told Insider. “I stuck because I thought work is work and that’s always been my mindset.”
But Claire is adamant about”trade her wagesShe’s seen cycle after cycle of the store being fully staffed, where employees feel “they can have a life outside of this job,” and then something happens that upsets the balance, whether it’s changing the working hours of management or a particularly demanding client – and colleague after colleague walks out.
“If the job is something I can do and it doesn’t take more of my life than it brings in — that is, the money — then I can handle picky customers and strange management. I can brush all that off,” she said. “I understand there are times when a job just isn’t worth it.”
For Claire, who earns about $13 an hour in Texas, the work is still worth it. But that’s because they trades her wages: She does what is expected of her, but does not take on more and does not stretch more than necessary. It’s another side of stop calmlyand it’s a practice she says is especially important for Gen Z.
“I have control over when I come and when I leave,” she said. “While I’m there, I’m going to at least try to do as I’ve been told, but I’m not going to do 9 to 9.”
How Claire deals with her wages
For Claire, it’s about doing her wages to keep her identity separate from her job and not feel the need to go beyond that.
“In my mind, at least the job shouldn’t be everything to you, whatever your job is,” Claire said. “This isn’t the sum of your life. This is literally just a job.”
Especially with inflation soaring—and getting paid so little that she’s hovering below the poverty line—Claire sees no incentive to do more than is necessary to keep her job, something she also sees as intrinsic to doing her wages.
“I’m not interested in being the fan’s favorite. I’m not interested in going above and beyond. Because when did I ever specifically go to that store and it ended up meaning something to me?” she said.
If she expands herself, she would like to have some kind of reward for it.
“If you don’t get it again and again, why should I even try?” said Claire. “It’s not giving up, it’s not not doing the job. It’s just understanding that this is the job I was hired to do.”
At the end of the day, Claire said, think about how important you are to the company.
“You’re not important to that company,” she said, adding, “It’s important as far as the work gets done, but it doesn’t seem to really matter, in my experience, to the employer doing that work, just as long as it is done.”
Why Gen Z are more likely to trade on their pay
As Gen Zer, Claire thinks her generation approaches work differently than previous generations. For example, her grandfather had the mentality to give everything – no matter what is going on with your personal life or in your own head.
She said the idea of an “über employee” was born. With this mindset, she said, “It doesn’t matter how you are – mental health, physical or medical health, problems at home, problems with friends, drama in life with other people. When you go to work, you put 115 % every day.”
But Gen Z faces rising inflation, an uncertain political environment and things like the overthrow of Roe v. Wade, Claire said.
“If you add all that up, today you have a young adult who says, ‘I’m human. I’m going to have days where my mental health is a priority, where my grandmother, my other job, my whatever takes precedence over this job,” Claire said.
People from other generations may feel the same, but Gen Zers have shown they are more willing to push back. Stop calmly and act according to your wages is not newbut the backlash and uproar over the term shows that: employers are startled by an increasingly motivated workforce.
“It’s, in my experience, a greater separation from the employee from the employer than in years and years,” Claire said. “Because, as a generation but also as a country, we get all this information about how much we matter and all the different ways we can be healthy or not healthy.”