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Five Exaggerations about Generation X

Posted on: Wednesday April 11, 2018

Generation X are the original latch key kids. Born between 1961 and 1980, they had to learn how to take care of themselves at a young age and watched their parents navigate a job market as it changed from ‘jobs for life’ to mass redundancies and interest rates rose to 18%. Has this resulted in a generation of slackers, who don’t care about the future of the company they work for as long as they get paid? Do Gen X really hate the ‘spoilt’ Millennial generation that followed them and have they actively disengaged themselves from the world as a whole?

The answer to all the above is a resounding no. Keep reading if you want to really understand how Gen X workers tick.

Myth 1: Generation X are slacker rebels. 

Although many members of Generation X may wish they were slackers, most of them never really had the choice to be one ( Generation X are excellent when it comes to knowing how to focus and what to focus on, due to having to make their own way very early in life, with little help from parents (or society). They may actually be the most resourceful members of your team.

Myth 2: Generation X have low levels of work commitment.

For some reason, Gen-Xers are perceived to have particularly low levels of commitment to their employer. Much like Gen Z and the Millennials, they are seen to be serial job-hoppers who don’t really care about the success of the company as a whole. However, although they do spend less time in the office, 83% of Gen Xers are willing to put in extra effort to ensure the success of their organisation. If Gen-Xers believe in what they are doing they will go above and beyond I order to deliver, employers just need to engage them correctly.

Myth 3: Generation X are selfish and only care about money.

Honestly, Gen-Xers are just very pragmatic people. You need money to function in society, and as they have had to rely on themselves from very early in life, Gen X are painfully aware of this fact. When surveyed, only 13% of Gen-Xers said they related to the statements ‘it’s important for me to be rich’ and ’I want to have a lot of money and expensive things’. They understand that you need money to pay for food, heating, electricity and a roof over their head, does that really make them selfish? I think not. 

Myth 4: Generation X have no ideals. 

Gen X grew up hearing about ideals 24/7, from their parents, grandparents, teachers, but despite this they don’t see anything less than the ideal as a failure. In fact, their practical nature causes them to be far more realistic about what can be achieved. If they know how to change something for the better, then they aren’t afraid to voice their opinion and lobby for change. Over half of Gen-Xers would complain about an issue they have encountered or a bad experience. Does this sound like the behaviour of someone who lacks ideals? Or just someone who pragmatic and practical? 

Myth 5: Generation X resent their millennial co-workers.

Gen X are the middle managers that have to deal with an influx of Millennial and Gen Z talent entering the workforce. It may take a while for the self-sufficient Gen-Xers to get used to the managerial style that these younger workers require, but Gen X may find it much easier to see through the Millennial and Gen Z stereotypes, as they themselves have already received a lot of stick from the Boomers. 

Gen-Xers know that Millennials aren’t necessarily the saviours of the workplace, but they also know that they aren’t here to ruin anything. Give them a bit of time with the millennials and they’ll soon find out how to get them performing at their best. 

Become an Expert in Gen X

Make sure you keep financial wellbeing a priority in your Gen X engagement strategies, they are under pressure to financially and emotionally support both their boomer parents who are retiring and their Gen Z kids who are living at home longer and relying on the bank of mum and dad to get their start in life. Give them opportunities to flex their feedback muscles, and reward them when they give that little bit extra. 

Want more info? Check out our employee benefits platform and our benefits audit checklist to figure out how to update your benefits to better suit the needs of your multi-generational workforce.

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