Will Generation X Adapt to the New Way the World Works?

Will Generation X Adapt to the New Way the World Works?


Defining Gen X

Gen X at Work

Gen X and Gamification

Gen X’s Adaptability


There’s no denying that the workforce is being taken over by Millennials and Gen Z workers. If fact, within the next five years, 75% of the workforce will be made up of members of the Millennial and Gen Z generation.

Naturally, employers have shifted their focus to these younger generations in an effort attract the best young talent. These cohorts think, work and act differently, and they expect the same from their employers. If you’ve read any of our previous blogs about Gen Z and Millennial workers, you know that companies need to enact a lot of changes to appeal to these generations. You may have even gotten the impression from our blogs that ZIZO exclusively caters to the young and tech savvy workforce.  

While ZIZO was founded partially on the basis of closing the gap between businesses and the new generational workforce – we certainly don’t want to leave anyone behind, especially not our experienced and respected Gen X fellows. 

I get questions all the time about Generation X employees and how they’ll fit into the ZIZO platform. Skeptics are concerned that the less tech-y generation won’t appreciate the gaming elements ZIZO brings to their workday. Without their participation, the success of gamification hangs in the balance. 

Personally, I don’t think it’s fair to assume someone won’t enjoy tech and gaming in their day-to-day due to their age 


Defining Gen X 

Generation X refers to those born between 1965 and 1980Sandwiched between two notorious generations, Gen X is often referred to as America’s ‘Middle Child’. Upon further investigation, this reference could not be truer for the middle of the road generation.  

Often referred to as ‘latch key kids’, Gen X grew up before the era of helicopter parents and participation trophies. This instilled a great deal of independence in the generation, as they’re accustomed to taking care of themselves and holding themselves accountable without outside influencers. 

In juxtaposition to their younger counterparts, Gen X hasn’t been on the internet for the majority of their lives. Daily use of tech and smart phones gained steam later in their lives, which allowed them to develop communication skills sans technology. This, in-turn, means Gen X employees are well adept at collaboration and direct, in-person communication.  

Despite their later-in-life introduction to technology, this generation remains highly involved with technology. Gen X frequently participates in social media and are extremely flexible when it comes to learning and adjusting to new technology. 

Gen X at Work 

Gen X grew up watching their predecessors grind away with long hours and workaholic tendencies, while this instilled a strong work ethic in the generation; it also created a desire to ‘live a little’. Known as the ‘work hard, play hard’ creators, we can thank Generation X for the trend shift towards work-life balance 

Although younger generations like Millennials and Gen Z are often given the credit for the demand of more amenities in the workplace, Generation X is who really deserves the thanks. Open office plans and the separation from dreary masses of cubicles began in the 90’s – when Generation X began demanding more forward-thinking work environments.  

The generation’s contribution to the workforce doesn’t stop at their demand for a less depressing work environment; Generation X brings a lot to the workplace table. 

  • They’re great communicators. Gen X professionals are notoriously direct compared to younger generations. This brings the ability to have open and honest conversations to the workplace, which in turn allows a more relaxed and transparent environment. Gen X’s strong communication skills lends them perfectly to collaboration; competency working with others is a huge asset to Generation X professionals. This skill has served them well when working on teams and is what earned the group recognition for their strong networking skills 
  • They lead. In 2019, 51% of global leadership positions were held by Generation X cohorts. This monopoly on leadership can be attributed to many factors; but perhaps the strongest is the desire to lead. As a member of the Gen X generation, I can attest to the natural need to lead and be independent. Maybe it is due to the independent nature of our childhood’s or to the unique environment we grew up in. Whatever the reason, there is no denying the group’s drive for leadership; in a global study, over half of the 18,000 Gen X participants polled reported that becoming a leader was important to them.  
  • They won’t take critics too hard. This is yet another positive attribute the Gen X can credit to their uniquely independent upbringings. Born and raised before helicopter parents and participation trophies, Gen X doesn’t expect unnecessary nicetiesWhile their younger counterparts often lose sleep over a harsh remark or criticism at work, Generation X professionals embrace the same feedback as a means to improve.  
  • They’re more tech-y than they get credit for. While internet wasn’t a major deal during the developing years of Generation X, most Gen X professionals used it regularly early on in their careers. The use of technology isn’t necessarily innate for Gen Xers, but they were at the forefront of the movement from paper to digital, forcing adaptability and quick mastery of technology. Gen X are very active streaming, using email and even on social media; in fact, almost half report spending over an hour a day on their smart phone.  

Gen X and Gamification 

So by now we know that the inflexible and traditional Gen Xer is a myth, but gaming? That might just be too immature for a workforce over 40. The data tells us that this is yet another myth.  

In fact, 46% of Gen Xers polled reported playing online games at least on a weekly basis. In addition, Generation X are the original creators of the entire movement! The internet was created by Generation X, why would it be too ‘young’ for us?  

Gen X’s Adaptability  

As frequently mentioned throughout the article, we know that Gen X has a faulty reputation for being unwilling to adapt. Generation X is often lumped into Baby Boomer’s hesitation to interact with technology and adjust with the times; let’s put an end to that myth today.  

When I’m once again asked the inevitable question about older employees resisting ZIZO, I think I can confidently respond that Gen X won’t have a problem adapting to a better way to work. At this point, I’m sure you don’t need me to remind you yet again that members of Gen X have lived through many major transitions in our world. The generation is one of the most adaptable and neutral groups in the workforce, so no, I don’t think they’ll be a squeaky wheel when ZIZO arrives on their desks.  

How to Retain Millennial Employees

  • Enhance Company Culture
  • Be Flexible
  • Change Up Your Leadership Style
  • Promote Wellness

As of 2017, millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) made up 35% of the workforce. While the tides have shifted over the past few years as the younger generation Z has joined the workforce, millennials remain the largest cohort in today’s workplace. Despite the large population of millennials working, the average tenure of a millennial worker is only 3-4 years (industry dependent). This high attrition rate is costly for employers, replacing a millennial employee can cost upwards of $15,000; so how can workforce managers an HR professionals hire and retain millennial employees?

Enhance Company Culture

Millennial employees thrive on the feeling of being valued, they traditionally prefer an emotional reward over a monetary one. This factor drives millennial job seekers to be critical of employers who don’t have a strong company culture.

Companies looking to appeal to millennial employees should focus on cultivating a culture which makes every employee feel that they’re important. One of the top contributors to employee unhappiness is a lack of growth opportunities or challenges; as an employer, provide you’re well performing employees with opportunities for upward growth, this is extremely valuable to millennials.

Positive culture can also be reinforced by encouraging your employees to explore opportunities elsewhere. This may feel counterintuitive, but millennials value feeling supported so much that they’re more likely to stay with a company which encourages them to leave to make positive career moves than they are to stay with a company that they feel does not support them in a positive career move.

Be Flexible

Millennial employees value flexibility in the workplace and they’ll prioritize a workplace which can offer them this luxury. Consider schedules that go beyond the M-F 9-5. Are there opportunities for remote work? Let your employees take advantage of the possibilities, they’ll value this trust and flexibility!

Change Up Your Leadership Style

As previously mentioned, millennial employees do best when they feel like they’re a part of something important, this includes their workplace relationships. Leaders looking to bolster their millennial workforce should approach employee relationships as coaches or mentors, rather than the traditional ‘boss’. Millennials will appreciate the respect and more meaningful relationships at work.

Strong employee-boss relationships reinforce millennial’s feelings of trust and respect, which makes them more likely to work independently and feel more accountable at work.

Promote Wellness

By now you’ve probably noticed the trend of promoting wellness in the workplace, this is great for attracting millennial employees!

Along with their desire to be a part of something important, millennials also value a company which cares about them. Put an anti-burnout plan or policy in place to encourage your team to maintain healthy work habits. Provide your employees with opportunities to relax and unwind while taking care of their physical or emotional health. A company’s involvement in their millennial employee’s wellness will lead them to appreciate and feel more connected to their employer.

Millennial employees value experiences over objects, provide your team with the opportunity for adventurous team outings or trips. This will benefit their mental health while increasing their connection to the company.

Although generation Z is making a major entrance into the workplace, millennials will be carrying our economy for many years to come. Any company that aims to continue growing a full staff of talent must ensure they’re implementing appeals to the millennial generation. Wooing a candidate is not enough, company-wide efforts must be made in order to retain millennial talent.