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 1980. Sandwiched 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 niceties. While 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.