Defining Generation X
Generation X, born between 1965 and 1980, has a current population in the U.S. of 65 million and is quietly known as the Invisible Generation as it has been overshadowed by Baby Boomers at 71.6 million and Millennials at 72.2 million.
Although Gen Xers should be seen and acknowledged for their adaptability and street smarts especially when it comes to today’s labor market. They are a critical part of the workforce, with many of them in leadership positions, and they bring unique perspectives and skills to the table.
A few of the core values of Gen Xers include independence, self-reliance, practicality, diversity, informality, work/life balance, and technology.
Gen Xer Characteristics
One of the defining characteristics of Gen Xers is their independence. They were the first generation known as “latch-key kids” growing up with both parents working outside the home, which meant they had to fend for themselves more often than not.
As a result, Gen Xers are known for their ability to work autonomously, take initiative, and solve problems on their own. These traits make them valuable employees, as they can be trusted to complete tasks without constant supervision.
Gen Xers are also known for their adaptability. They came of age during a time of rapid changes and have seen economic upheaval.
Think about it, Gen Xers saw the fall of the Berlin Wall, the energy crisis, the Watergate scandal, the rise of the personal computer, the Jonestown mass suicide, corporate layoffs, and the Rodney King beating. As a result, they are well-equipped to handle change and uncertainty in life and in the workplace. They are also incredibly comfortable with technology, having grown up alongside the computer revolution.
One of the challenges Gen Xers face as the smallest generation is being the invisible bridge between Baby Boomers and Millennials. They are often caught in the middle, as the older generation tends to cling to traditional ways of “my way or the highway”, while the younger generation is focused on work-life balance and social causes.
Gen Xers value hard work and dedication, but they also want to have a fulfilling personal life outside of work. This can lead to tension and misunderstanding in the workplace often trying to balance conflicting views of GenXers managers and their direct reports.
The Future of Gen X in the Workforce
Despite some of these challenges, Gen Xers have much to offer the workforce for years to come. They bring a unique perspective that comes from straddling two very different generations. They are comfortable with technology and adaptable to change, making them valuable assets. Not to mention their independence and self-reliance mean they can be trusted to get the job done without constant supervision. Organizations that recognize and value Gen Xers value will be well-positioned for success.
Reach out to Integrity HR to harness the strengths of your multi-generational workplace.