July 28, 2023

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Programming note

On the Margins is taking a short break, returning on August 25. In the meantime, you can catch me at Gusto Next in San Francisco. I’m told I have to talk to people while I’m there.

And now, the newsletter.

Fake work trends

I have mixed feelings about this, but since I’ve been writing about the workplace long enough at this point that I feel a certain obligation to inform you that “lazy girl job” is the new “quiet quitting.” I suppose I’m writing about these silly work trends because the media—particularly the business media—portrays workers as glib, and employers often hilariously misunderstand this portrayal, so I’ll try to clarify as best I can. 

ANYWAY. You probably remember quiet quitting. That was the work trend from last year that had all sorts of people up in arms because they thought people were quitting their jobs without leaving their jobs. Ergo, these people are lazy and PART OF THE PROBLEM. What quiet quitting actually is, however, is a reasonable approach to work. It goes like this:

  1. Start work.
  2. Work throughout the day. 
  3. Stop work. 
  4. Don’t do work until the next work day. 

Now, some employers hear “quiet quitting” and probably think about some underground cabal of layabouts undermining economic progress. I assure you this is not what is happening. People just aren’t that organized.

No, at worst, quiet quitting means that someone is phoning it in; at best, it means someone has a job. This may sound crazy, but many people want this to be the norm. They have sought jobs that allow them to have it or cultivate it for themselves at their current jobs. The result? Happier employees! More productive employees! 

ANYWAY. Here’s the latest version of that:

[Victoria] Bilodeau and scores of other women online are bragging about their work setup using the hashtag #lazygirljob. To fans, the ideal lazy-girl job is one that can be done from home, comes with a chill boss, ends at 5 p.m. sharp and earns between $60,000 and $80,000 a year—enough to afford the basic comforts of young-adult life, yet not enough to feel compelled to work overtime.

Okay, now I’m going to write something potentially controversial: There’s nothing wrong with this. Victoria—who is 23 years old—is doing what she wants to do. Her previous job had long hours and was more demanding. Finding a better balance between work and life is not lazy; it is smart. I’ll say the obvious thing now: #lazygirljob is a hashtag. Sometimes hashtags are jokes. Not everyone gets the joke. Business people with traditional ideas about work often do not get the joke.

At this very moment, employers and employees are trying to find a new balance between what each side needs and wants. For employers, they need employees; they’re desperate for them in some cases. Then they need them to do consistent, quality work and not undermine the business. It’s pretty straightforward, actually. Employees, on the other hand, want fair compensation, access to healthcare and other benefits, and flexibility so they can have a decent life outside of work. 

Neither side is unreasonable here. But, case in point: because this #lazygirljob article appeared in the Wall Street Journal, millions of sanctimonious champions of overachievement will see the “lazy girl job” hashtag and take it literally and then grouse about this generation’s lack of initiative or grit or whatever. Presumably they believe that Victoria and whoever else is leading the downfall of American culture should be captains of industry before the price for renting a car is reasonable.

Even if these lazy girls—who are a) adult women and b) not all girls—backslide into toxic overwork again, they’re showing more people that work can still be important but are ultimately searching for something else—contentment. We should all strive for a bit more of that. #lazygirldadjob

What’s the IRS up to?

Surprises are a mixed bag. Surprise parties, surprise engagements, surprise visits from old friends—all great. Surprise medical bills, surprise divorces, surprise bumper-to-bumper traffic—not so great. 

Fortunately, there’s another unpleasant surprise—surprise IRS visits—that will soon be a thing of the past: 

The Internal Revenue Service said on Monday that it would immediately curb the practice of sending agents to make surprise visits to homes and businesses, scaling back a policy that for decades was central to its efforts to collect unpaid taxes amid political backlash and increasing threats to its employees.

IRS commish Daniel Werfel said that these surprise visits were generally made by unarmed revenue agents to taxpayers who owed more than $100,000. That makes sense. Like, if you owe someone $100K, I don’t blame them at all for showing up at your front door and saying, “What the French toast?” When someone with the full support of the U.S. government behind them shows up at your door, that’s a little different. Even for those taxpayers who can more than handle it, mistakes get made, and that’s not good for anybody.

Plus—maybe you’ve heard—not everyone holds the IRS in high regard. So IRS revenue agents just doing their jobs can be put in unnecessary danger when they show up at a home or business that is less than hospitable. All of this (and more) factored into the IRS’s decision to do away with the surprise visits. Commish Werfel said that the surprise visits would be replaced by letters with a request to schedule a meeting. Seems reasonable.

There’s an important exception, however:

The criminal investigation unit of the I.R.S., which does employ armed agents that visit homes and businesses, will not be affected by the change of policy for revenue officers.

Yes, yes. If there’s a criminal element to your situation, an IRS agent may show up without the notice of a courtesy letter. Adjust your expectations accordingly.

Fresh from Gusto (and friends)

The Xero Roadshow Accelerate stops in Atlanta on August 3, and Los Angeles on August 17 for a day full of content and networking with your local accounting community. Use these codes at checkout for 25% off: Gusto-25ATL, Gusto-25LA


Our on-demand webinar, Grow with Gusto: Next Steps for Your Practice, is now available. If you’re new to the Gusto Partner Program and wondering what’s next, this session is for you. Editor-at-Large Caleb Newquist and Gusto representatives will discuss FAQs, considerations, and recommendations on what to do next. Register and watch now.

Read with Gusto

Visit Gusto Academy—your home for professional development from payroll to People Advisory—to get Certified, take electives, and earn CPE credits. Free for Gusto partners.

Caleb Newquist Caleb is Editor-at-Large at Gusto. In 2009, he became the founding editor of Going Concern, the one-of-a-kind voice on the accounting profession, serving in the role for 9 years. Prior to Going Concern, Caleb worked as a CPA for nearly 6 years in New York and Denver. He lives in Denver with his wife, two daughters, and two cats.
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