Remember Gen X? With all the hype over retiring Baby Boomers and self-entitled Millennials, Gen X has been largely ignored in the workplace. Stuck in the middle between Boomers and Millennials, Gen X is also finding itself squeezed at home, thanks to the dual financial burden of raising children and caring for aging parents.
Members of Gen X, born between 1965 and 1979, are the least understood group in today’s workforce. They’ve weathered multiple recessions, lost jobs, and some even lost homes when the market crashed in 2008. Now, employers are counting on Gen X to fill the gaps left by retiring Boomers– and Gen X is, by and large, frustrated, overworked and disengaged. It’s not all doom and gloom though. Investing in Gen X can give your business a boost, increasing productivity and reducing churn.
How to Re-engage Gen X in the Workplace
Often characterized as independent self-starters with entrepreneurial traits, Gen X should be leading the charge for workplace innovation. Instead, many feel passed over for Millennials and forgotten by their employers. Re-engagement starts by understanding and meeting their needs:
1. Offer periodic remote work/telecommuting opportunities. Pulled in multiple directions, Gen X is checked out at the office. While traditional performance incentives like bonuses are appreciated, don’t assume a pay bump will be enough to keep your top talent. Gen X is feeling squeezed at home, so make it easier for them to meet these needs and continue to deliver at work. Incentivize performance by offering new opportunities for flextime or working from home.
2. Invest in professional development. As Gen X enters the ranks of management, they’re tackling a whole new set of professional challenges. Offer leadership training and professional development opportunities. Investing in employees sends a clear message that you value their place within your company and see a future together.
3. Keep them in the loop. Yes, Gen X values autonomy, but they also value clear communication. Don’t wait until an annual review to provide feedback or discuss next professional steps. Proactively partner with your best employees to develop an aggressive career plan.
4. Be aware of generational divides. Do you have older employees that report to younger managers? This can leave your older employees feeling disconnected and passed over for the younger talent. Gen X feels like they paid their dues in the workplace putting in the long hours and face time necessary for advancement. While promoting a younger employee may be the right move for your company, communicate clearly around this promotion to let older workers know they too have a career path with your company.
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