Best Way to Motivate Generation X

Best Way to Motivate Generation X

Courtney Collins

how to motivate employees

Generations in the Workforce & Marketplace: Preferences in Rewards, Recognition & Incentives

  • Generation X is more independent than other generations because they learned to take care of themselves as “latchkey kids” at an early age—letting themselves into their homes, making their own lunches and dinners, and doing their own homework, for example.
  • Most generational experts agree on a few truths about Gen X. Namely, Generation X came of age at a time when dual income families and divorce rates were sky rocketing. Xers weren’t told they could do or be anything they wanted, at least to to the extent Boomers and Millennials were. They saw their parents less because, in many cases, their parents were hard-charging Boomers working long hours to make a difference and get ahead.
  • Today’s disloyalty between workers and employers, in fact, began as Xers entered the workforce. Since then, the distance between employees and employers has widened such that Xers and Millennials today expect to depend on themselves to steer their own careers.
  • Xers, it is argued, are constantly concerned with building their resumes because they don’t expect to stay with one employer for a long time. This is consistent with generational theory that would point out the turbulent economic conditions and mass layoffs that occurred during their formative years.
  • Generation X is also said to demand a greater degree of proof that a reward or incentive is what it purports to be. Experts recommend that you “ensure that you don’t make promises that you can’t keep” to Xers in particular. Where Xers are invited to events, they may seek meaningful information from knowledgeable people more so than other generations. In other words, the brochure or sleek corporate video may not cut it with many Xers, they might prefer the detailed product specifications and the raw YouTube video made by a regular employee or customer, for example.
  • In its 2015 study on the generations, IBM found that despite the belief that Millennials seek the most frequent recognition among the generations, “They are no hungrier for accolades than Gen X employees.” Like Boomers and Millennials, IBM argues, Xers prefer face-to-face experiences to virtual ones. However, they might go either way when it comes to preferring casual or extreme experiences.

Generations in the Workplace: The Convergence of Baby Boomers, Generation X & Millennials

  • As their Baby Boomer mothers increasingly entered the workforce, Generation X became the first generation in which a significant number of children grew up in dual-income households. They were also the first generation of “latch-key” kids.
  • Generation X, born between 1965 and 1980, totaled 46 million people in the United States in 2010.
  • They learned to be independent, self-reliant, resourceful, and comfortable on their own. In the workplace, Gen Xers are independent, technologically savvy, and strong multi-taskers. As a rule, they do not see the value in frequent meetings when a weekly, or even daily, email update can provide the same information.
  • This generation is motivated by extra time off rather than money, and they place a high value on their personal lives.

Forget Millennials. Gen Xers Are the Future of Work

  • Gen Xers play the 7-up game daily. They are known for keeping their heads down and assuming their work speaks for itself. They constantly plug along and feign satisfaction, too afraid to upset the apple cart. And that’s a productivity and engagement killer.
  • [Gen Xers are] poised for great leadership–the average age of an S&P 1500 CEO is 50. And they’re already leading the majority of growing companies: 68% of Inc. 500 CEOs are Gen Xers.
  • We know Generation Xers are less engaged than their Millennial counterparts, and that makes for less motivated, energized and prepared leaders.
  • According to AARP, “in 2012, 42% of Generation X had a financially dependent child along with a parent over 65.” Like it or not, we can’t ignore the stress, concern and lack of sleep that follows them into the workplace and into positions of leadership.
  • The generation under the most financial stress, Generation X lost 45% of its wealth–almost double that of the Baby Boomers before them.
  • Because Generation Xers will make up only 20% of the workforce, as leadership roles are vacated by older workers, there are fewer Generation Xers available. And Millennials may not have the experience and maturity needed for such roles.

The Stunning Fall Of Generation X

  • Young generations have stopped getting richer over time.
  • In just about every regard, Gen X has fallen behind financially. Even before the recession, they were earning less and saving less for retirement than previous generations did at their age while taking on unprecedented debt. They were hit hardest by the recession, losing half of their wealth from 2007 to 2010.
  • 37-year-old Americans today are actually much poorer than 37-year-olds in 1983.
  • The recession dealt a devastating blow to Gen X, knocking median net worth from $75,077 in 2007 to a paltry $41,600 three years after the recession.
  • By 2010, Gen Xer’s assets were less than twice as much as their debt load, making them more likely to take on more debt as they struggled to pay for housing, student loans and car payments.