I’m an X’er. Members of Generation X were often characterized as slackers, latchkey kids, possessors of bad attitudes, and a bit nihilistic in their cynicism. I am part of the 66 million others known as the “neglected generation” or the “forgotten generation,” and as the citations below reflect, businesses need to pay attention to us, or they’ll miss out on a significant opportunity to grow their revenue, increase organizational performance, and benefit from the generation sandwiched between the Boomers and the Millennials. Here’s why:
- We drive a significant percentage of the US economy, 31% exactly, even though we comprise only 25% of the population. We like to eat out, buy clothes, and entertain ourselves.
- We’re smart, even though we envied Ferris Bueller and Jeff Spicoli. 35% of us have a college education. That makes us one of the most highly educated generations ever. The research has also revealed that we like to share our knowledge. X’ers make excellent mentors for younger employees and our level of education is reflected in much that we do at work, and outside of the office.
- We’re ready for the next step. As Boomers retire, X’ers will fill the gap. In fact, we’re already well on our way. Evidence shows we don’t like to brag, so our upward movement has been quiet. The research bears out that we’re a bit shy in declaring our specialness, after all, one of the best-selling albums of our generation is entitled, Nevermind.
- We’re innovative. 55% of startups have been created by X’ers. Did you know Elon Musk is an X’er. Because X’ers are a smaller cohort than the generations we’re sandwiched between, we tend to get overshadowed by the great things Boomers have accomplished and the vivacious minds of the Millennials.
- A study by generational expert, Mary Donahue, showed that X’ers who have solid relationships with Millennials in the workplace decrease employee turnover by 50% and increase productivity by 11%. This is an interesting statistic because as we move into upper management roles, we’ll be mentoring Millennials more and more. That bodes well for the future of the workforce.
- We may be self-deprecating, but we don’t like to be ignored by marketers. Traditional media still matters to us, so continuing to place ads in newspapers, on the radio, and on television that are aimed at us isn’t throwing money away. Yes, we like our digital media, but we did not grow up in a digital world.
In the end, identifying those born between the mid- to late-60’s and the early-80’s, is a smart strategy if companies are looking to make revenue targets and increase their organizational effectiveness.
Not bad for bunch of slackers, eh Wayne? Party on, Garth!
For more on managing intergenerational workplace dynamics, check out Unfairly Labeled: How Your Workplace Can Benefit from Ditching Generational Stereotypes.
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