Generation X Employees

By: Angela Huffmon
Posted: 10/06/2011

Some managers feel their Generation X employees are the hardest group to motivate. 

It’s true that this generation has many concerns and these concerns directly affect what will motivate them. 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 46 million Generation X workers.  As a manager, it’s important that you understand the wants of this particular group in order to have any hope of motivating them.

The four generations working in your office all require a different approach to get them motivated. 

As a manager it is a necessary part of your job to keep your employees upbeat and productive.  Know that most of your employees will start their jobs as highly engaged employees.  However, over time that engagement subsides and is reflected in their quality of work.  Therefore, it is to your benefit to figure the best solutions to re-engaged them.

Generation X Employees Want: Positive Relationships with Co-workers

As a manager, have your employees participate in more team building activities. 

This will help them to get to know each other better and discover commonalities.  In addition, your team may discover the talents and skills each member possesses.  These types of activities will help your employees to get along better when completing a project.

Mentally stimulating Work

Generation Xers desire work that is stimulating and satisfying.  As a manager, assigning these employees work that is challenging will keep them engaged.  Work that requires critical thinking or creativity is catnip for brain cells.  This kind of work will give Gen Xers the mental stimulation they crave.

Continuous Training Opportunities

This generation is highly ambitious.  Their desire for mental stimulation is coupled with their desire for training.  Generation Xers want to continually increase their skills and enhance their experience.  Don’t be afraid that increasing their skills means they will automatically take those skills to another company.  In actuality, your willingness to invest in training your employees will be rewarded by their longevity with your firm.

Flexible Work Schedule

Generations Xers are between the ages of 33 and 46.  This means that most of this group is actively involved in raising children.  The many family obligations these employees are experiencing now cause them to desire a more flexible work schedule. 

Before you immediately shake your head no at the thought of creating unique work schedules for this group, consider their qualities.  Most individuals in this group have a strong work ethic, and are extremely hard workers.  They do not require others to help them complete a project in fact most prefer working independently.  Gen X employees are willing to put in the extra hours if necessary to finish their work even when they have a flexible schedule. 

Increased Pay

Due to the fact that most Gen Xer has growing families, their expenses are also growing.  Most feel burdened down with mortgage and car payments, child care cost, and are actively planning for college education expenses.  In addition, they are saddled with the reality of job insecurity, and a struggling economy. 

Obviously, money is a concern for your Generation X employees.  If you are not able to increase their compensation, try to offer structured incentive bonuses or small monetary rewards throughout the year.

Increased Promotional Opportunities

Generation Xer are willing to work hard and many are willing to pay their dues to qualify for a promotion.  This group wants to be recognized for their effort in the form of promotions and pay.  Keep this in mind when discussing future goals with these employees.  Ask your employees about the types of promotions they may be interested in pursuing with your company.  This discussion will help to inspire and motivate them.

The truth is that your Generation X employees are not difficult to motivate.  However, because they have been the smallest generation group their wants have been overlooked.  Taking a few extra minutes to consider the special needs of this group will help you to understand their needs and facilitate a better working relationship.

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