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Houston expert: How to navigate Gen Z's quiet quitting movement at your company

Your perspective on quiet quitting is probably generational, says one Houston expert and startup founder. Photo via Getty Images

This month, the internet has been discussing "quiet quitting," the practice of employees setting hard boundaries about when they work and to what extent they are willing to go beyond the outlined expectations of their jobs.

The conversation around quiet quitting has also been lively at the Ampersand offices. As a training company that is dedicated to training new professionals for employers both big and small, it's critically important for our team to have a good grasp on the relationship employees have with their jobs, and what motivates them to succeed. So we had a long meeting where we discussed what quiet quitting meant to each of us.

My team's take on quiet quitting

When I first read about quiet quitting, I was surprised. I started my career in New York City during the Great Recession. I was just grateful to have a job, and I was immersed in the hustle culture of NYC, working long hours to prove my value. I made a habit of getting up early and staying late during a formative time in my career, and still maintain those expectations of myself today (here I am now, working on this blog at 5:43 am).

The Gen Xers on my team were even more surprised by the quiet quitting trend than I was. Their take was that you have to do what it takes to get ahead. It’s taboo for many Gen Xers to leave before the boss. They are used to working longer hours, with less “work life balance” than me, filling their off time with volunteer roles and second jobs.

The Gen Zers on my team crave the work/life balance we all hear about in the news. Rather than throwing themselves headfirst into grind culture, they want to make sure that they have time for their life outside of the office. If they are going to show up early and work late, they want to know that it's for a purpose they believe in and it’s directly related to accelerating their career growth and increase their salaries.

Reaching an Understanding

When I look around my office (and by office, I mean Zoom tiles), I think about how a lot of offices around the world look similar to mine. The workforce will always be a blend of people from different generations, each shaped by their own experience. We’re all adjusting to new styles of work. No matter what generation you come from, or what generation you’re managing, you’ll get stronger results from your team if you set clear expectations, check your generational bias, and understand the perspective of others.

What does this look like in action?

Here are three steps you can take to encourage and inspire your team to put their hearts into what they do:

1. Show appreciation for your team.

If an employee is making $50,000, explain that value back to them. What does their work mean to the overall organization? How does their wage and work contribute to the vision and overall goals of the company? By showing your team their value and reminding them that what they do has a purpose, you can inspire each team member to stay engaged in their work.

2. Embrace flexible work schedules and trust your team.

Let Gen Z innovate, do their thing and find their own way of getting work done. At the same time, communicate: outline clear KPIs, let them know what you expect, and give feedback along the way. Remember, part of an employee feeling a sense of purpose in their job is knowing that they are learning and growing. The more engaged you are in their development and show respect for their time, the more engaged your team will be in following through. And if they don’t meet expectations, have an open, honest conversation with them while still embracing their preferred work style.

3. Help your employees better prioritize their work.

Leverage available tools and resources to find efficiencies while you’re developing your team. Make sure that your processes are well-documented and easy to understand, and encourage the team to contribute ideas and better tools if they have them. Remind them that there’s an open door if they have any questions.

At the end of the day, our job as leaders in an organization is to keep our teams boldly engaged. By helping our employees find purpose in their work, we can build stronger teams that are less likely to be swayed by the latest trend, and more likely to stay focused on their jobs because they care.

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Allie Danziger is the co-founder of Ampersand, an online training platform for businesses and professionals looking to level up their talent.

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Building Houston

 
 

Juliana Garaizar is now the chief development and investment officer at Greentown Labs, as well as continuing to be head of the Houston incubator. Image courtesy of Greentown

The new year has brought some big news from Greentown Labs.

The Somerville, Massachusetts-based climatetech incubator with its second location at Greentown Houston named a new member to its C-suite, is seeking new Houston team members, and has officially finished its transition into a nonprofit.

Juliana Garaizar, who originally joined Greentown as launch director ahead of the Houston opening in 2021, has been promoted from vice president of innovation to chief development and investment officer.

"I'm refocusing on the Greentown Labs level in a development role, which means fundraising for both locations and potentially new ones," Garaizar tells InnovationMap. "My role is not only development, but also investment. That's something I'm very glad to be pursuing with my investment hat. Access to capital is key for all our members, and I'm going to be in charge of refining and upgrading our investment program."

While she will also maintain her role as head of the Houston incubator, Greentown Houston is also hiring a general manager position to oversee day-to-day and internal operations of the hub. Garaizar says this role will take some of the internal-facing responsibilities off of her plate.

"Now that we are more than 80 members, we need more internal coordination," she explains. "Considering that the goal for Greentown is to grow to more locations, there's going to be more coordination and, I'd say, more autonomy for the Houston campus."

The promotion follows a recent announcement that Emily Reichert, who served as CEO for the company for a decade, has stepped back to become CEO emeritus. Greentown is searching for its next leader and CFO Kevin Taylor is currently serving as interim CEO. Garaizar says the transition is representative of Greentown's future as it grows to more locations and a larger organization.

"Emily's transition was planned — but, of course, in stealth mode," Garaizar says, adding that Reichert is on the committee that's finding the new CEO. "She thinks scaling is a different animal from putting (Greentown) together, which she did really beautifully."

Garaizar says her new role will include overseeing Greentown's new nonprofit status. She tells InnovationMap that the organization originally was founded as a nonprofit, but converted to a for-profit in order to receive a loan at its first location. Now, with the mission focus Greentown has and the opportunities for grants and funding, it was time to convert back to a nonprofit, Garaizar says.

"When we started fundraising for Houston, everyone was asking why we weren't a nonprofit. That opened the discussion again," she says. "The past year we have been going through that process and we can finally say it has been completed.

"I think it's going to open the door to a lot more collaboration and potential grants," she adds.

Greentown is continuing to grow its team ahead of planned expansion. The organization hasn't yet announced its next location — Garaizar says the primary focus is filling the CEO position first. In Houston, the hub is also looking for an events manager to ensure the incubator is providing key programming for its members, as well as the Houston innovation community as a whole.

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