Generations 101: Part III (Generation X)

Summary: Generation X

  • Born between 1965-1980

  • Smaller than Boomers and Millennials

  • Independent, autonomous, results-oriented, a little cynical

When “experts” mention generations in the workplace, Gen X is often forgotten. And, in some ways, for good reason. By sheer numbers Gen X (51 million) is much smaller than Boomers (80 million) and Millennials (75 million). Xers, born between 1965-1980, are small but mighty. Generally, Gen X values balance, independence and autonomy, pragmatism, and self-reliance. They are also cynical and skeptical. They grew up having to take care of themselves, as their parents invented the 60 hour work week, and that impacted their perceptions. Xers are a little angry, much more anti-establishment than the Boomers, and results oriented…almost to a fault. Gen X values work/life balance, more so than their Boomer parents, and their work is less tied to their identity. Work smarter not harder has established an internal desire for output but the struggle to respect (and trust) authority. Xers want efficiency in the workplace, access to leaders and information, and they want to know why they are completing a task or a job. You can see how this would influence not only their communication with leaders, but also communication with others in their workplace. They want independence…and that’s okay!

Gen X, independent and autonomous, are cynical and tend to reject authority-and their young adulthood was defined by the city dwelling co-eds of FRIENDS. Gen X also brought forth an entrepreneurial spirit and a new technological trend developed. This tech-savvy generation, in many ways, became a bridge to those segments of the population now coined Millennials and Generation Z. While Gen X is often described as the sandwich generation, and for good reason, they really became a metaphor for the generational narrative. After Gen X, the world would not be the same. Rapid innovation, social media, the birth of mobile phones, and eventually wearable technologies established a new way of thinking, and acting, for…Millennials. But this trend began with “X”.

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