Generation X

Defining Generation X

Defining Generation X

Generation X refers to individuals born between 1965 and 1980. However, in different countries, these time frames may vary slightly – sometimes the cutoff year is 1979, and in other instances, it extends to 1983. These variations stem from specific social, political, and technological changes.

Where did the name “Generation X” come from?

The term “Generation X” was popularized by Douglas Coupland's 1991 book “Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture”, which describes the life and experiences of people born during this period. In one interview, Coupland revealed that he derived the name from Paul Fussell's book “Class: A Guide Through the American Status System”, where “X” referred to a group of people who were indifferent to social pressure, money, and status.

The letter “X” can also symbolize an unknown or undefined element, and theorists often consider that members of this generation feel a bit lost in reality.

Other names for Generation X

There are several more specific terms associated with Generation X, such as:

  • Latchkey Generation” – this term literally means “generation with a key around its neck”, as children often remained home alone after school until their parents returned from work.
  • “Baby Busters”: This name arises from the smaller number of births following the Baby Boomers period.
  • “MTV Generation” – named after the launch of MTV in 1981.
  • “Slacker Generation” – this refers to a “generation of slackers” and is associated with a specific modern management style implemented by leaders such as Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.
  • “Sandwich Generation” – this term describes those who have both elderly parents and young children, thus needing to care for both simultaneously.

Characteristics of Generation X

  • Members of Generation X, along with Millennials, dominate the job market. They began their professional lives in highly unstable times, and many have successfully carved out their niches in business, now forming the core of managerial staff or running corporations like Google's founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page.
  • Generation X is also more educated than their parents, takes an interest in political life, and is well-versed in social dynamics. This generation comprises ambitious, success-oriented, independent, and conscientious individuals who respect authority and are attached to tradition.
  • As technology evolved, Generation X transitioned from the analog to the digital world. They were the first to play computer games and use the internet. Their approach to social media is cautious – they are frequently active but can manage without it. Online, they seek instructional, how-to content, and are keen to review products.
  • In 2015, 55% of startups were founded by Generation X members. Despite their technical proficiency and innovativeness, they most trust face-to-face interactions and paper records.
  • Women of Generation X more often than women of previous generations manage both full-time work and family care.
  • Generation X is frequently considered the first to face instability in the job market, social changes, family breakdowns (increased divorce rates), and a reduction in state-provided social benefits. They value a balance between their private life and their professional life.

How to manage talents from Generation X?

Members of Generation X will continue to be active in the workforce for a long time, so it's important to address their specific needs to maximize their performance. Here are key areas to focus on:

  • External Training Opportunities: Although Generation X employees advance less frequently than Millennials, they are loyal to their employers, and professional development is not their main motivation for changing jobs. However, they are keen to grow through external training and coaching rather than internal training. Companies should therefore facilitate their participation in industry conferences, working groups, seminars, workshops, and professional organizations.
  • Supporting Innovation: Despite growing up in a time before the internet, Generation X is proficient with technology. Modern tools that automate their work and opportunities to experiment and find solutions motivate them to be more efficient.
  • Open Communication: Generation X is well-organized and values openness, readily giving and receiving feedback. Establishing communication channels and engaging in ongoing dialogue will strengthen their trust in the company.
  • Tailored Employee Benefits: As representatives of the “Sandwich Generation”, Generation X values security, such as private health insurance and pension benefits.
  • Work-Life Balance: Generation X places a strong emphasis on the balance between work and personal life. Flexible schedules, the option for remote work, and additional days off are key factors that motivate them to work efficiently.
  • Recognition of Achievements and Contributions: Support from supervisors, recognition of achievements, and rewards for good work increase engagement and loyalty among Generation X employees.

Diversity Management: Generation X employees prefer to work with companies that promote age diversity within the team. Companies should therefore emphasize this aspect when building their branding strategy.

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