Working with Gen X’ers

Generation X entails those born anywhere from 1965 to 1980.

Generation X'er ManGrowing up in this fast-paced era has provided some incredibly eager and adept people. While the preceding and following generations tend to see positives and place trust in institutions, Generation X is the opposite. Some of their leading characteristics are:

  • A pervading cynicism of anything that stays positive or seems “too good to be true”

  • An individualistic drive that spurs them to take pride in being able to do everything on their own

  • An adeptness to technology that did not exist before, as they were the generation growing up with each advance and learning to manipulate devices at a young age

  • A flexibility in both personal and professional circumstances, resulting in their being able to leave jobs at a higher rate

While their strong personalities might offend some, it doesn’t mean they aren’t essential parts of the team. The following information may be a good guide to use when seeking to keep a happy workplace with individuals from Generation X.

This is the generation that prefers you to simply lay out the task before them and tell them how to complete it. Tying in mission statements and how their effort makes you feel might actually deter their desire to complete the task, so just keep it simple. These individuals have lived through many economical highs and lows, and tend to be distrusting of both the good and the bad times. As their fellow coworker, try not to take it on yourself to correct their personal views, and just let them work.

Employee surveys show that:

  • Communicating with Generation X’ers is best done by email. Keep things formal and to the point, just like you do with face to face conversation.
  • Too much positivity from their boss tends to be met with skepticism,
  • while too much from their peer or subordinate can be met with anything from mild indifference to outright annoyance.

You might love that your cat just learned the alphabet, but to a Generation X’er, that was five minutes of their work day that could have been spent completing a task.

To ensure employee happiness, keep someone of this generation engaged in solving a task. These workers tend to be very efficient and creative thinkers, and if you loosen the leash and allow them to think outside the box and create their own solution, you’ll probably love what you get. As a manager, you won’t have to be as concerned over employee engagement with this generation. They love the feeling of finishing a job and doing it well.

Compliment or reward this individual directly after they have done something noteworthy. As mentioned, they tend to be cynical. If your compliment is too late in taking place, they may be wondering just what you want from them. On the same note, don’t over compliment. If you are working underneath Generation X’ers, it may be best to avoid complimenting at all if not done in group settings. When appropriate, however, keep compliments simple and matter-of-fact.

While it may be frustrating to feel like they tend to be on the negative side during team meetings, these workers will usually offer their own idea if they don’t like the ones being given. Try to view their critique as a way of achieving the best results for the task rather than outright attack on your worth as a human.

Boomers may be hesitant to serve under Generation X.

Because this generation places high value in keeping time for home life, there tends to be more flexibility in the workplace allowing for employees to take time for their families and personal life. Take this as a sign of higher efficiency instead of a sign that the company is about to fail.

Overall, Generation X’ers bring incredible work ethic to the team.

Be sure to keep it simple and direct when communicating and let their natural ingenuity lead the way when appropriate. The best workplace is one that manages hard work with time spent enjoying life. This generation is one that understands the value in working efficiently and enjoying the leisure that is earned.


Real-time tools like Clarity Wave’s EPIC™ allow Gen X’ers to quickly and easily express their opinions and perceptions of their workplace and coworkers in a safe and anonymous environment.

If you want to learn more about how to conduct real-time employee surveys without going crazy in the process visit to learn more about our Employee Engagement software, EPIC™


Schedule a demo to see how EPIC™ by Clarity Wave can help you have more engaged employees and improve your company’s culture.

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