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Bridging the Gap: 5 things you need to know about working with Gen X

The modern workplace is a complex ecosystem constantly evolving to serve the world around it and the people that work within it. Every generation leaves a distinct mark on the workplace with their unique talents, traits, and values.

To help create a thriving workplace, you must first understand the people within it. Recently, we explored the characteristics and expectations of Generation Z and how they could impact the workplace in the near future. Now, let’s shift focus to a fundamental force that has been impacting the workplace for quite some time–Generation X.

The new workplace

The majority of the workforce at present is made of Baby Boomers, Generation X (Gen X), and Millennials (or Gen Y). However, Boomers are in the midst of a mass exodus–they’re retiring and leaving the workforce at a phenomenal rate. With more than 75 million Boomers retiring in the near future, Gen X and Millennial workers must step up and fill the gaps, although the brunt of the managerial work will likely be placed on Gen X.

As rising leaders of the workforce, who are the people that comprise Generation X? What are their workplace priorities and expectations? To prepare members of the workforce, especially those just entering, for the upcoming shift of power, we’ve captured a few facts about Gen Zs, including their expectations of the workplace. Curated from the latest research and statistics, these tips and insights can help you and your organization prepare for this leadership shift and thrive in an evolving market.

Let’s explore Generation X, an essential element in today’s workplace.

Who is Generation X?

Generation X is defined as the individuals born between 1965 and 1980. Often referred to as the “Middle Child Generation”, they are sandwiched between Baby Boomers and Millennials. This generation has experienced significant societal and technological changes during their more formative years. These are the people who grew up during the insecurities of the cold war, started careers in the midst of widespread recession, and were one of the first generations to experience the widespread effect of parental divorce and single-parent homes, as wellas the impacts of dual-income households. Gen Xers are the original latchkey kids.

Because of the substantial personal and societal changes Gen X endured, it’s no surprise one of the generation’s most defining characteristics is resilience. This generation is often associated with independence, skepticism, entrepreneurial-ism, and adaptability: characteristics stemming from rapidly changing and often tense societal, cultural, and familial conditions.

Gen X’s key characteristics are worth noting, as they often play a major role in how its members function in the workplace. This generation’s resilience, adaptability, and independence often make for strong and determined employees with praiseworthy work ethic. To more fully understand the role Gen X’s unique qualities play in the workplace, we’ve compiled the following 5 things you need to know about working with Generation X:

5 things you need to know about working with Gen X

  1. Efficiency is key. Gen X is a generation that thrives on and looks for efficiency in every task. Delegation and time management skills are highly valued and demonstrated among Gen X members and will often be encouraged from their peers or employees.

  2. Keep sharpening your skills. Where Boomers often sought to find one, solid career to last their entire work life, Gen X often seek portable jobs–jobs with skills or degrees that are transferable. Many Gen Xs have focused on sharpening their hard and soft skills in the event they should need to make a career change. They, therefore, expect and appreciate others investing in their skill sets. Want to stand out and prove yourself useful to the Gen Xs in your workplace? Work on fine-tuning your unique talents and improving your hard and soft skills.

  3. Technology is king in the workplace. Gen X is a generation that fully experienced the greatest technology boom of recent decades. Thus, they tend to have a strong appreciation for technology. In fact, when asked what sets their generation apart, many Gen Xs answered it was their use and appreciation of technology. This affection for technology leads Gen X to seek ways of integrating technology into various aspects of the workplace.If you’re a millennial or Gen Z, your tech-savvy talents and insights will prove very useful to the Gen X leaders in your workplace.

  4. Focus on self accountability. Independence is a highly valued characteristic for Gen X. Of course, independence in the workplace necessitates accountability. A peer or employee who is able to work independently and hold themselves accountable for the work they’ve done is of great value to this generation of workers. Brush up on the importance of accountability, and discover our top tips for increasing your self awareness in the workplace with our Benefits of Accountability.

  5. Set clear goals and deliverables. Clear, concise goals and tangible outcomes are needed for working with Generation X. Gen X members like working toward clear goals with transparent expectations. They strive on developing their own plan of achievement once outcomes have been definitively outlined. In managerial positions, Gen Xs prefer to set concise expectations for work, while allowing individuality in how these expectations are met. In other words, they expect you to meet their specific needs in your own way. To work harmoniously with this generation, you must be clear and concise with your work outcomes–and never be afraid to ask questions in order to further clarify expectations.

As Generation Z enters the workforce and the Boomer generation leaves, it becomes imperative for those entering the workforce to invest in better understanding the generation stepping into senior leadership. Generation X is, indeed, a unique and resilient generation–and the new workers who invest time in understanding these rising senior leaders may realize benefits to their careers now and in the future.

© 2023 The Growth Group, LLC - All rights reserved.

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