Generation X - middle generation
Knowing more about Generation X and how they operate can help employers understand the generation. They’re progressing from young upstarts into mid-level management and beyond.
Members of Generation X (born 1961 – 1980) have been in the workforce for up to 10 years and have gained considerable experience. Many of them are progressing into management and now have to deal with more responsibility, such as managing the younger generation, ‘Gen Y’.
The old rules of hiring - getting the best candidate for the least amount of money - no longer apply. In the past, employees tolerated employment circumstances that were less than ideal. Loyalty and tenure were rewarded, and changing jobs frequently raised eyebrows.
Although the Global Financial Crisis has made finding a job more difficult, Gen X is the highest employed generation in the country. These employees are motivated by different criteria than their parents were.
Twenty years ago, the opportunity to move up the corporate ladder was daunting, and not to be taken lightly. Gen X seemingly want to skip the corporate rungs and lead a cushy lifestyle from the start.
Job-hopping is a normal and accepted method of career advancement for Gen X. Money is usually the main motivator - salary, bonuses and stock options have become common currency. Yet life-style issues are also becoming increasingly important, and this is territory where smaller companies can make their mark.
Gen X value factors such as flexible schedules, shorter commuting distance and interesting work culture and creativity. Now that this generation is beginning to settle down and start families, options such as flexible working hours are very appealing, and will likely result in greater loyalty to a company.
To meet their needs you may have to adjust your management style. For example, younger members of the workforce want immediate feedback on their performance and lots of it. Remember, this is the generation brought up on instant gratification.
Baby boomers, have been very loyal are extremely valuable to you and may
not always get along with your younger employees. Try to explain to your other employees that Gen X may do things differently, but they also work hard and deserve to be given a chance.
The two generations also have different communication styles. Gen X tends to be informal and direct. They rely heavily on email and think nothing of bypassing their managers and going directly to the boss for input or information. They may not have the analytical abilities and long-term perspective that their senior colleagues possess.
There are many ways Boomers can mentor Gen X, for example, teaching them the value of formal communication in both corporate language and writing.
In the past few years Gen X have had a major impact the way companies do business and may do so for a long time. With the projected pending retirement of up to 40% of the present workforce within the next ten years, you may have no choice but to adapt to the changing workforce.
- The respect of their supervisors and co-workers
- Honest, timely feedback when they make a mistake
- Plenty of time to enjoy their life outside of work
- Ability to do work autonomously
- Team members who see the big picture and are not only focused on day-to-day goals