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The Generation Gap: Motivating Gen Xers (part 2 of 2)

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Jessica Miller-Merrell, blogging4jobs

When Generation X entered the workforce, they brought a new attitude, new expectations and new motivators than we had ever seen from their baby boomer parents. There were many factors that shaped these traits, but we can largely thank their boomer parents for what Gen X needs in an employer and what satisfies them at work.

As a whole, they were shaped by parents who spent a significant amount of time at work, leaving them with a bit of a distaste for a lack of work-life balance. They were also the first generation who saw a surge in divorce rate, often requiring them to be more independent as many were latchkey kids. They were also part of the first generation where many households had both parents working outside the home, which encouraged them to make decisions for themselves and entertain themselves. All in all, Gen X had a childhood of firsts for America, which contributed to them bringing different perspectives and desires to the workplace than we had ever seen. 

RELATED: The Generation Gap: Motivating Millenials

Since there are so many unique aspects to this generation, it only stands to reason that they will be motivated by different things than the generation before or after them. Take a look at these ways to tap into what moves Gen X and motivate them to be their absolute best in your business.

Let them flex their ability to make decisions

Many members of Generation X were taught to be more independent than the generation before them. With parents who spent a lot of time working outside the home, they became problem solvers and learned to think critically over time. Because of this, many members of Gen X frown upon micromanagement, when on the receiving end of it and in their management style. They feel empowered and are most satisfied when they are given room to make decisions.

Understand their current life stage

Gen X is right smack dab in the middle of family raising in this day and age. Because of this, they must have flexible schedules that give them time to take care of and support their children. While the generation that came just after them, the Millennials, desire flexible schedules so they can enjoy their lives, members of Gen X desire a flexible schedule to fulfill their role as parents. They do not wish to repeat the workaholic tendencies of their parents. Allow them time to succeed in their roles at work and at home and you’ll have employees who are loyal, happy and more focused.

Measure results, not time

Generation X is typically very highly motivated to perform, but they do not value a workplace that measures success and loyalty based on tenure or hours of overtime worked. They believe that the work should speak for itself and that you should worked smarter, not necessarily longer. They enjoy seeing the success of a project and will do what’s necessary to make it happen, but they don’t respect an employer that expects that of them regularly. Generation X believes that regardless of how man years you’ve been with the organization, a valuable contribution is a valuable contribution, so they won’t be motivated by anniversary gifts and rewards. Instead they want to see incentives based on performance and promotion based on actual results, not overtime worked.  

What do you think are the biggest differences between this generation and the one before them in the workplace? Let us know in the comments section below. 

Learn all about how to manage multiple generations in your workforce with this informative PayScale whitepaper: Compensation Challenges for a MultiGenerational Workforce

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