Generation gap: Gen X at work

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Let’s continue our series on the generation gaps at work. This week, we’ll take a look at Generation X.

GenXers were born between 1962 and 1980

They grew-up during a time where most western countries shifted their economy from manufacturing to services. Technology also started to be a part of their lives. They experienced the first computers and cell phones, as well as the first days of Internet.

Most GenXers were raised in dual-income households. Working women were the norm. Kids were either in daycare or left home to their own devices.

This generation also experienced the first economic turmoils since WW2 in the 70’s and early 80’s, and saw their parents loosing their jobs.


GenXers are more independent and self-sufficient than the previous generations. They are also more educated. Most of them have a college or university degree.

They are willing to try new things, mostly because they’re not intimidated by technology. They integrate new technologies very easily into their lives.

They’re more tolerant of different lifestyles as they see them as part of a changing environment.

At work

Because GenXers are more independent, they’re not as loyal and committed to their employers. They’re motivated by advancement and don’t hesitate to change jobs to further their career.

GenXers are drivers for change and adapt very well to it. They thrive in a flexible work-environment and don’t do that well under micro-management. They could actually have difficulties with authority and formal structures at times.

Finally, this generation believes more in work-life balance. They tend to look for jobs and companies matching their belief.

A few tips if you work with a GenXer

  • Give them some space: refrain from frequently “checking-in” and asking them when they’ll be done.
  • Provide room to grow: as GenXers are motivated by advancement, you’ll need to give them opportunities and challenges if you want to keep them on board.
  • Provide some flexibility: whether it is in terms of how to approach their role, or their working hours, a bit of leeway will go a long way.

Final word

GenXers are a strong asset to any company. They are drivers for change. And, because they’re more tolerant, they also foster a more positive and accepting environment at work.

Stay tuned for part 3: Millennials at work.

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