Gen X often gets overlooked not just in studies and blogs, but in the workplace too. They don’t require the praise and positive reinforcement that millennials need and are generally less demanding. Neither are they (yet) the dominant force in leadership positions like baby boomers. Much is made of helping baby boomers and millennials to work harmoniously together, meaning that Gen X is kind of like the smart but quiet kid in school; they’re dependable and do their work well, so the teacher doesn’t pay them much attention.
Which is pretty crazy since Gen Xers are complete upstarts!
The Under-explored Qualities of Gen X
Despite what the internet might tell you, millennials don’t have a monopoly on portfolio careers. By portfolio careers we mean an individual who tries various different professions and experiences instead of sticking to one career or job path. These can be undertaken consecutively, but with the increase in flexible working many Gen Xers are taking the opportunity to undertake these roles simultaneously. For example, @AvocetKaryn is currently rocking three jobs!
Portfolio careers are excellent for personal development and can help individuals bring a vast set of skills to the workplace. Employers need to be wary however; if you’re not looking after your Gen X workers and they’re being better looked after by one of their side gigs, you might just lose them to a different part of their portfolio.
The communication skills of Gen Xers is second to none. Unlike millennials (who prefer email, text, or basically anything that’s not face-to-face) they’re not afraid to pick up the phone and start a conversation or meet with colleagues and clients. They’re also much more customer focused than baby boomers, who can have a very brusque and businesslike communication style that rubs some people up the wrong way.
This also means they’re excellent at networking and tend to have expansive social and professional networks.
One of my favourite things about Gen X is their awesome capacity to challenge authority. They want to do things the right way, their way, and that’s not always going to vibe with the higher ups. Millennials aren’t too hot on authority either, but tend to resist in in a more passive way by job hopping if they feel that the views of management aren’t compatible with their own.
Gen X however are much more likely to stick with it and actually challenge authority head-on, they are loyal but not blindly loyal. Perfect recipe for a disruptive positive influence in your organisation!
Gen Xers are independent, productivity and customer focused, and excellent all-rounders. They’ve also got minimum ten years left in the workforce and will be your next leadership team (if they’re not already), over 50 doesn’t mean over the hill! If you empower them in the workplace they will be your hardest hitters and excellent mentors for your millennial and Gen Z employees. Overlook them any longer and they might just start expanding their portfolios.