Generational Approaches to Work – Generation X – Part 4 of 5

Tracy KosterHR

Generation Xers were born between 1965 and 1980. Members of this generation are now in their 30s and early 40s. On the whole, they have the advantage of the best academic training in history. They are ethnically diverse and over 60% of Generation X attended college. In the work force, they are junior partners, senior associates, and mid-level support staff. Generation X leaders thrive on change, are fair, competent and straightforward, sometimes brutally honest, and results oriented. A key value of Generation X is the achievement of balance between career goals and quality of life.

Below are a few common characteristics of Generation Xers.

Individualistic – Generation X came of age in an era of two-income families, rising divorce rates and a faltering economy. Women were joining the work force in large numbers and, as a result, Generation X is independent, resourceful and self-sufficient. In the work place, Generation X values freedom and responsibility. Many in this generation display a casual disdain for authority and structured work hours. They dislike being micro-managed and embrace a hands-off management philosophy.

Technologically Skilled – The first generation to grow up with computers, technology is woven into their lives and they have learned and adapted. This generation is comfortable using cellphones, e-mail, laptops, BlackBerrys and other technology employed in the workplace.

Flexible – Many Gen Xers lived through tough economic times in the 1980s and saw their workaholic parents lose hard-earned positions. Thus, Generation X is less committed to one employer and more willing to change jobs to get ahead than previous generations. They adapt well to change and are tolerant of alternative lifestyles. Generation Xers are ambitious and eager to learn new skills but want to accomplish things on their own terms.

Value Work/Life Balance – Unlike previous generations, members of Generation X work to live rather than live to work. They appreciate fun in the work place and have a work hard/play hard mentality. Generation X managers often incorporate humor and games into work activities.

When dealing with this generation, employees need to get to the point, focus on outcomes and have fun.

The information in this article is intended for general guidance only. Readers are requested to contact their professional advisor prior to acting on the basis of material contained herein.