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