Mental Health and Work/Life Balance

Act Your Wage

Veronica is my Gen Z stepdaughter. She knows a lot of stuff about a lot of stuff and is not shy to educate me on just about everything.

Most recently Veronica taught me the expression ‘Act Your Wage’ and then explained to me what it means.

Apparently, it means that when employees are being required to work too hard and under too much stress, they remind each other that they are not being paid enough to work that hard, and they tell each other to ‘Act Your Wage.’  They are not buying into the crap that we boomers were sold about ‘paying your dues.’

In my generation we called this ‘Act Your Wage’ type of thing ‘working to rule,’ but that only applied to organized labour in a salary dispute.

I kind of like the concept, but when I try to apply it to law firms, all I can do when I stop laughing is think that if all of the assistants, clerks, students, and junior associates started ‘acting their wage,’ the entire system would grind to a halt.

In law firms, the idea seems to be that those at the bottom are supposed to ‘do whatever it takes’ as they claw their way to the top.

From my retirement perch, I look forward to finding out if the Gen Z folks completely destroy (and hopefully build back better) the existing system.

By the way, none of this applies to associates in Big Law whose salaries are so ridiculously high that they have sold their souls and actually have to work inhumanely to act their wage. I suppose that is okay, since it is a free country and they get to make their own choices.

2 replies on “Act Your Wage”

It is interesting. I suppose it is a natural result of spending one’s formative years in a society where ridiculous amount of wealth generated by the economy goes to the super wealthy (as compared to previous generations where only a reasonable amount of wealth went to the super wealthy).

From what I can see, there are two factors at work. One, Gen Z does not have confidence that the rewards will be for them, as they have been for boomers. Second, Gen Z has seen what the Boomers sacrificed in terms of quality of life and health and they are looking for a better way forward. All of that certainly ties in to your point about where the wealth is going.

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