By: Kristin Clements-Effner, MSW CoFounder/Training Coordinator
Generation X (those born between 1965-1980) are small in number when compared to Generation Y and Baby Boomers in the workplace and often go unnoticed in the major discussions of the generational divide in the office. The best way I can think of describing this Generation is that they are the middle child of the group. This has led to their needs in the workplace often being left unaddressed resulting in many leaving traditional employment to pursue their own businesses or ventures.
In the office, Generation X employees are very independent and want autonomy to get job tasks done efficiently. However, there is great value to a Generation X worker in using collaborative decision-making to address a problem and get feedback. Generation X workers hate long drawn out staff meetings because they place high value on productivity and efficiency. This Generation’s main loyalty is to themselves and their family, due to the challenges they have seen their parents go through with long-term employers and the loss of jobs. Frustration has set in for many due to the lack of opportunities to advance in their current place of employment due to Baby Boomers and Traditionalists staying in the workplace longer.
As I said, Generation X is the middle child of the group and workplaces around the country are missing out on the great values of independence, productivity, efficiency, etc that characterize this group. They often are pulled in two directions: not understanding the new crop of workers who are texting all day long and feel entitled to the corner office on the first day and at the same time wanting a life/work balance that doesn’t fit with the long hours put in by Baby Boomer leaders.
Organizations need to begin looking at this cohort of the workforce and providing advancement opportunities, flexibility, collaborative decision-making models to make sure they aren’t lost in the mix. Generation X also might be the Great Mediators of the generational divide between Millennials and Baby Boomers and the key to creating a really dynamic workplace for the 21st Century.