From 'lazy girl jobs' to 'quiet cutting,' here are the biggest workplace buzzwords of 2023 — and what they mean


Copycat layoffs

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"Copycat layoffs" is the idea that companies are being influenced by one another as they cut jobs.

Since the start of 2023, numerous companies have laid off workers, including Google, Microsoft, and Zoom, picking up on job cuts that started in the second half of 2022. 

Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor at Stanford's Graduate School of Business, attributed the layoffs to "copycat behavior" in an interview with Stanford News in December.

"A lot of this is just imitation," Pfeffer told Insider. "We see one company doing something and everybody follows. They followed on the way up; companies were hiring, so everybody decided to hire. Now, companies are laying off, and everybody decided to follow each other and lay people off."

Kathryn Minshew, founder and CEO of The Muse, a Gen Z and millennial-focused job search platform, agrees it certainly at least looks like companies are piggybacking off of each other with layoffs.

"It's difficult without being inside those companies to really point a finger at why these tech companies are shutting people," Minshew said. "But when many companies in an industry make the same decision in a short period of time it certainly starts to look like they're being influenced by each other."

Rage applying

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Rage applying is the practice of mass applying to jobs fueled by feelings of unhappiness at work. And it seems it has the potential to pay off.  

After being passed over for a promotion, Jordan Smith — a 28-year-old working in the music industry in LA — "rage-applied" for five jobs and landed a better-paying role within a week. 

However, rage applying might not be the best approach for everyone. Career coach Kelsey Wat advises against conducting a job search from an emotional place of "fear, resentment, or burnout." 

"I think it's helpful for job seekers to get more clarity and be more centered and grounded in what they want ... so they can develop a job search strategy that is aligned with their values," she said. 

Quiet hiring

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As companies cut back on hiring amid recession fears, "quiet hiring" – tapping internal talent instead of increasing headcount – has emerged as a new buzzy workplace term. 

It was listed as one of nine workplace trends to watch in 2023 by Gartner, a research and consulting firm, and it describes a way to acquire new talent through internal development rather than hiring new people.

Gartner predicts that employers will offer "upskilling opportunities" for existing employees to meet organizational needs. 

"This is a trend that's helpful for employees also," said Toni Frana, lead career expert at FlexJobs. "We know that employees like professional development opportunities ... like the opportunity to upskill and increase their bandwidth and further their knowledge in terms of skills they acquire in a role." 

Wat said it's important for prospective employees to gauge an employer's willingness to provide internal growth opportunities during the job interview process.

"It's really important to ask how success is measured in a role, and when you're interviewing, asking questions about what previous people in the role are doing now so that you have a sense of whether there is mobility in the company," she said. 

Resenteeism, loud quitting, and grumpy stayers

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As major tech companies continue laying off significant numbers of workers, another workplace trend has emerged: resenteeism. It describes the act of staying in an unsatisfying job due to a perceived lack of options, even as resentment grows. 

After resenteeism came the synonymous "loud quitters" and "grumpy stayers."

Gallup's 2023 State of the Global Workplace report found that roughly 1 in 5 workers are "loud quitting" at their jobs, which just means they're "actively disengaged" at work, as opposed to quiet quitters, who are simply "not engaged."

"They're detached from the organization but also emotionally against the organization, and they'll be vocal about it," said Jim Harter, the lead author of the report and the chief scientist for Gallup's workplace management and well-being practices. "The loud-quitting employees are going to be much, much more likely to take another job pretty quickly if it becomes available, and they won't need as much money to do that."

Frana said in some cases, employees should try to raise workplace issues with their managers before dissatisfaction festers. 

"I certainly think what a lot of things boil down to is communication and having conversations with your manager about potential opportunities or shifts in the type of work that you might be doing," she said. "You can oftentimes get to the heart of a matter, and you might be able to make some direct changes." 

Bare Minimum Monday

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Think of Bare Minimum Monday as a way to ease into work at the start of the week.

TikToker Marisa Jo popularized the term, which describes a way to resist the Sunday scaries and the pressure many people feel to hit the ground running full-speed when they return to work again on Monday.

"The second I got rid of the pressure and allowed myself to have whatever kind of day unfolded, I was able to do stuff," she said in a TikTok.

In a video documenting one of her Bare Minimum Mondays, Jo goes through activities like journaling, her skincare routine, and making progress on a creative project before beginning work, which she notes "doesn't start until noon" on Bare Minimum Mondays, though she notes she's able to finish all of her work in the shorter allotted time anyway.

Chaotic working

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Chaotic working, aka "malicious compliance," involves employees using their position at work to help customers or clients at the employer's expense.

Though it often entails breaking some rules, workers may do it without fear of repercussion because they're simply fed up with their job, employer, or the general state of work.

Anti-work sentiments have helped the trend grow.

TikTok from user The Speech Prof says examples of chaotic working include giving customers employee discounts or upsizing their food order for free.

Kelsey Wat says workers engaging in the practice should be aware that they may be jeopardizing their jobs: "I would be concerned that's not going to end well."

Shift shock

man, jumping, suit, buildings

How many people have started a job with excitement only to realize it wasn't what they expected? According to a 2022 study by The Muse, 72% of about 2,500 respondents have had that experience.

Minshew terms this "shift shock," though the phenomenon can go by other names as well, such as new-hires remorse.

While Minshew said this experience isn't new, "workers today are more likely to leave if they're confronted with shock."

When she was working at McKinsey 15 years ago, Minshew said she was told that leaving a job after less than two years would be a "black mark" on her resume. Now, things are different. 

She said that 80% of survey respondents said it was acceptable to leave a new job in six months if it didn't live up to expectations. 


Boomerang employees


With the growing number of layoffs, some workers are returning to familiar ground. 

They're known as "boomerang employees," referring to those who go back to their old employers after a while.

While the term itself isn't new, it's picking up speed in 2023. 

"Their presence and impact have gained recognition as a result of the Great Resignation, quiet quitting, rage applying, and recent tech layoffs," tech career coach Kyle Elliott told Insider. "Some workers are returning to previous employers after a stint at a competitor, while others are being laid off and then rehired at the same company."

Career cushioning

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Some workers are dusting off their resumes and shoring up their skills to protect themselves in case they are laid off. 

This trend, which involves workers starting to look for other jobs while still in their current roles, is often called "career cushioning," or "recession-proofing." The term started to take off late last year and is on the rise as many companies announce surprise job cuts. 

"Given the fact that we've had high inflation, we're potentially moving into more of a recession, I think that if you have concerns about layoffs, or you're in an industry that is affected by layoffs, I think it's really, really healthy and a good idea to make sure that you are networking, make sure that you are prepared for anything that can happen," Wat said. 

"I think it's a good strategy for everybody." 

Lazy girl jobs

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Popularized by TikToker Gabrielle Judge, "lazy girl jobs" typically refer to low-stress jobs that still pay well. 

Judge, a self-proclaimed "anti-work girl boss," told Insider of the trend, "I really want people to understand our time is so valuable and should be focused on efforts that are most aligned with their individual priorities, not a company."

While some girls with so-called lazy jobs say it's helped them establish better work-life balance and keep stress in check at work, experts warn it can put your job in jeopardy.

"The problem with having the lazy girl job is that they're the first ones to get laid off when tough times come," Marc Cenedella, a careers expert and founder of the job search site Ladders, told Insider.

Cenedella added there's a risk bosses will see if you post about your lazy girl job online and take disciplinary action accordingly, and said you may also stunt your career growth and future prospects by taking it easy.

Loud laborers

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"Loud laborers" aren't new but the term is — and we've all known at least one person who fits this mold.

They're the ones who spend more time talking about their work than actually doing it — the ones who readily flaunt their achievements to their bosses or on LinkedIn but are slow to get to work.

These workers can have a negative effect on morale.

"Some people are motivated by external rewards and recognition rather than the inherent satisfaction of the work itself," Nicole Price, a leadership coach and workplace expert, told CNBC. "This can lead to a focus on visibility and self-promotion in order to attract these rewards." 

"The constant self-promotion may create an atmosphere of competition rather than collaboration," Price told CNBC. 

Hot Labor Summer

image of striking actors holding up picket signs in Hollywood

While Hot Labor Summer isn't new, this year's will definitely be one to remember.

Thousands of screenwriters from the Writers Guild of America and actors from the SAG-AFTRA are on a historic strike. The last time the two were on strike together was in 1960.

More than 11,000 Los Angeles city workers went on a 1-day strike this week. LA has also seen thousands of hotel workers go on strike recently. Last month, the UPS and the Teamsters union, which represents roughly 340,000 UPS package handlers and drivers, reached a tentative agreement, averting a strike that could have had far-reaching repercussions.

Quiet Cutting

grumpy worker
Companies may be reassigning workers to roles they're unhappy in as way to nudge them out naturally. 
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The wave of layoffs that hit companies between the end of 2022 and the first several months of 2023 might finally be abating. 

A recent report from the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray, & Christmas, found that US based employers announced 42% fewer job cuts in July than in June, and cuts went down 8% between last July and this July.

Still, companies are still finding ways to clamp down on their workforce even if they're not sending out those dreaded mass emails. In some instances, employers might just be re-assigning workers to less desirable roles in a workplace trend the Wall Street Journal recently dubbed "quiet cutting." 

Reassignment isn't always a coded death sentence. In some cases, it could be a way for companies to fill jobs that will be necessary to future plans while cutting down on costs associated with old strategies, the Journal reported based on the comments of human-resources executives. 

In other cases, though, it could lead to a slow, and painful process of self-realization. Employers might be pushing workers into jobs they know the workers will be miserable in, implicitly prompting them to quit, the Journal said. 

"They could be putting you out to pasture," Roberta Matuson, an executive coach and human resources adviser, told the Journal. 

"Quit cutting" is also just the latest iteration of discreetly nudging employees out the door. 

Employers regularly resort to "quiet firing" tactics like excluding employees from meetings, asking them to write down their work duties, or failing to offer them raises or promotion opportunities when they want them to leave — without having to spell it out. 

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