Generational expert Ann Fishman likes to compare employees aged 34-54 with that group’s favorite childhood toy, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: hardworking, scrappy, quick on their feet, and resilient.
While they are frequently overlooked in companies’ persistent quest for Millennials, Generation X has a tremendous amount of experience and work ethic to offer senior management. In fact, with baby boomers about to retire en masse, companies should be taking extra strides to recruit members of this generation in order to prepare them to take over leadership positions.
To do so, HR should focus on effective strategies such as:
- Promising a balance of personal and professional life. Generation X will accept lower salary for a better work/life balance.
- Fostering a sense of “family” in the workplace, since Gen X-ers were frequently children of divorce and left alone at home while both parents worked.
- Considering their ideas, even if they are new or inexperienced. This is the first generation to grow up with chat rooms and the internet, so members learned to value the quality of an idea over the identity of the person providing it.
- Providing “peace of mind” benefits, such as pet insurance. Since this is a generation of “latchkey kids,” many consider dogs and cats to be family.
- Allow them to be entrepreneurial, since they value independence and autonomy.
Most of all, HR leaders should strive to make the job appear fulfilling to the candidate. Unlike Baby Boomers who relish money and award nights, Generation X seeks personal contentment.
“I had one client who said, ‘If I want a Baby Boomer to read a book on my company, all I have to do is offer them a cash reward. But Generation Xers are different. I could pay them anything, but they won’t read it if they don’t think it’s of value,” said Fishman.
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