As a Gen-Xer myself, I don’t really care about this subject, but at the same time I want you to know, that I know what I am talking about.  I also want you to know that I am right and will argue with you until I win, or I might just shrug and let you remain woefully ignorant. Depends on the day.  And, if you have some of me in your workplace, you better not be a micro-manager because that relationship won’t last.

Does any of this feel familiar?  It might if you have Generation X (Gen X) employees in your workplace. 

Born between 1965-1980, Gen X are the “lost children.”  Gen X grew up without much supervision or technology, but they discovered technology (and loved it) in the 80’s and 90’s.  In fact, between dial up wait times and losing our entire Napster catalog because our mom decided to make a phone call, we can be quite patient when it comes to IT issues gone awry.  This is the generation that drank from the hose, cooked full meals and stayed home alone at the age of 7 (while babysitting their younger siblings), and they don’t need you to entertain them. Gen X are fiercely independent, stubborn to a fault, and they wear their work ethic like a badge of honor.

Gen X prefers a work environment that has solid leadership, relevant work, up-to-date technology, flexibility in schedules, good benefits, and vacation days.  “Work hard, play hard” is the motto. Your Gen X workers are loyal. If your work environment makes them happy and fulfilled, they will stay.  They typically are not job hoppers like other generations. With the Boomers retiring early, and the workforce drastically changed by the pandemic, you will see Gen X workers coming to work each day because they like a challenge and they will keep showing up.

To hire Gen X, go a more traditional, yet modern, route.  They are looking on Indeed, Career Builder, LinkedIn, and Facebook.  Employee referral programs are successful with the Gen X group as well. Ask open-ended and behavioral interview questions and give assessment tests when appropriate. Do your best not to interview them to death.  While too many interviews is not good idea in general, it is particularly true with Gen X.  If you haven’t hired them after the second interview, they will get suspicious and move on to the next potential employer.

Once you have hired your Gen X workers, get them involved and keep them there. Invest in furthering their education and leadership skills.  Support them in joining outside activities that make them better at work.  They will appreciate leadership retreats, tuition reimbursement, and conferences to new and interesting places. Remember, some Gen X employees are scarred from being left home alone because both parents worked, or maybe they were children of single parents, so being able to attend to family is a win for your Gen X employee.  Be flexible with the hours, consider job share, and when you ask for their opinion, be sure to listen.

We’re the first generation that can make enough of our own money to live the way we want. I feel like we have a responsibility to figure out what this means.

― Glynnis MacNicol, No One Tells You This