At some point, this Gen X Girl stopped being the kid in the office. It’s weird, because it seems like you’ve spent an entire career trying to convince your superiors that you are ready for the big time. You’ve paid your dues. You’ve put in the work. And then…
This is the point where you’ve gone from a young whippersnapper yourself to the old guy yelling “GET OFF MY LAWN.” The new kids on the block (and no, I don’t mean Jordan, Jonathan, Joey, Donnie and Danny) have come in with their participation trophies and shiny new gadgets and look to be taking over everything. And Gen Xers do what Gen Xers do best. Nothing. Right?
That’s all a load of crap. It’s easy as a Gen Xer to get caught up in a generational turf war. There is frustration, because as a cohort, there are so few of us (estimated 46 million, Time Magazine) and so many of them (78 million, Time Magazine). Baby boomers won’t (or can’t) retire and millennials will work longer hours for the same pay. Gen X feels the squeeze.
One thing that won’t change is the fact that Gen X is finally moving into the prime of our working and economic lives. We may be a smaller cohort often ignored by marketers, but we still have the ability to influence our landscape and use our unique generational position to our advantage. We want many of the same things as millennials, we just need to recognize the differences in how we want to achieve those things.
We both want work-life balance. But for Gen X, that is more likely to mean between 9-5, we work, and work hard…but not a second later. Play time comes after 5. For millennials, the work-life balance is more fluid. In addition, both groups have their own aspirations for career success, but different approaches. Gen X believes in hard work, experience and clawing their way to the top. Our millennial friends don’t see all that angst as necessary or a sign of your commitment. If you are good, you achieve more. Their thought process is much more merit based, versus the “time-served mentality” of Gen X.
These two distinct philosophies need to find a way to work in harmony. Leadership in organizations needs to be aware of these distinct styles and find common ground for a smoother, more effective work environment.
As for me, I have some definite takeaways from reflecting on the differences between our two cohorts. I think there is something to be said about millennials’ entrepreneurial outlook and approach to hierarchy and success. And we Gen Xers came of age during a pretty big recession, so there is an understanding of how that shapes your outlook going forward.
It’s OK that we are the forgotten middle child. Middle children have a pretty good track record of doing well…Warren Buffet. David Letterman. Bill Gates. Even Abe Lincoln.
Yeah, these (Gen X) Kids are Alright.
Want more discussion about generations and the staffing industry? Check out some other blog posts from Team Haley!