Understanding the differences between our generations is a core building block to a successful multigenerational workplace. Each generation has unique life and socioeconomic experiences that have molded their values, beliefs, preferences, and expectations and impacted who they are as a group.

Generation X: Born 1965-1977

Sometimes referred to as the MTV Generation, Generation X (or Gen X) was born after the baby boom ended. Often the children of two working parents, they spent much time alone at home and were forced to grow up quickly. Rather than follow the rules or challenge the rules, they like to change the rules entirely. They enjoy a life outside of work. It is widely accepted that Generation X was so named because they felt alienated by or disengaged with their cultural surroundings and thus were a “lost” generation. They did not know where they belonged, but they knew they were not their parents!

Common Characteristics

Skeptical

Direct

Self-reliant

Impatient

Value work-life balance

Goal-oriented

Hardworking

Recognition-seeker

Instant gratification

Generation X consist of approximately 51 million people, marginally greater than half the size of the Baby Boomer generation that preceded them. This generation was first to experience the personal computer, cable TV and VCR as part of their youth culture.  As a result, Gen Xers are technologically savvy but they were exposed to things like violence, AIDS, and drug abuse at an impressionable age. Generation X watched their parents question their government, military, and corporate America, while they watched their own families disintegrate as their parents focused all their energy on their jobs. But Generation X is self-sufficient; a latchkey child whose parents were pursuing personal ambitions while it was forging its own unguided path into adulthood.

Notable Generation X Members

Lance Armstrong

Nicholas Cage

Charlie Sheen

JK Rowling

Michael Jordan

Angelina Jolie

Eminem

Halle Berry

In the workplace Gen Xers aren’t married to any job or employer, focusing on their individual skill sets to maintain a level of attraction to any potential employer who might show interest.  Generation X wants balance and flexibility in the workplace – they have children and a life to live and work is only a necessary means to that end. Growing up, they watched while their workaholic parents sunk their hearts and souls into a corporation and position they believed in and trusted, only to lose it all. As a result, Gen X will change jobs to get ahead if that’s what it takes. They’re as much chameleons in a work environment as they are in their personal lives, adapting extremely well to change. Generation X is ambitious!

Yes, they desire challenges and new responsibilities to keep things exciting, but they expect to accomplish tasks on their own terms without being micro-managed.

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