Generation X: Have We Forgotten You? *


It is hard to go on line and not read an article, blog, post or tweet on Millennials.  There is, if you will, Millennial mania.

It is true that Millennial employees are now about 1/3 of the workforce and that percentage is rapidly growing.  But even I can figure out the math on this one:  2/3 of the workforce is composed of non-Millennials.  There is another way to describe them: older employees.

We absolutely must look at the wants and needs of Millennials because they are a key part of our future.  We also need to be careful not to generalize about this generational group in a way that we would not about a racial, ethnic or religious group; there is substantial diversity among them.

But we cannot focus on Millennial employees at the exclusion of older employees.  We run the risk of not only disengaging them but also of age-related litigation as a result of the disengagement.

I focus on Generation X (this year being the first in which some have or will turn 50), because I don’t see them talked about as much as the Millennials after them or the baby boomers before them.  This group is, in my view, often over looked.

At the risk of proving my “babyboomerhood,” they are the “Jan” of the generational hierarchy.  To those who know not of what I speak, google “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” and you will understand that middle generations may at times experience struggles similar to middle children.

As organizations, we need to make sure that we don’t send age-centric messages by focusing too heavily on Millennials.  We should go one step further and consciously consider re-recruiting our Generation X talent by listening to their thoughts and needs.

On the last point, I talk specifically to my fellow boomers.  We speak up for ourselves, as we should, and we are a bit enamored with Millennials.  Let’s not forget those before us (Traditionalists) or Generation X after us, less we run the risk of losing  the talent of the (Warren Buffets) and Sheryl Sandbergs of the world.

[*]         Generation X employees were born between (and inclusive of) 1965 and 1982.



This article is not legal advice, should not be construed as applying to specific factual situations or as establishing an attorney-client relationship.

Follow me on Twitter at:  @Jonathan__HR__Law.

The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

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