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The Evolving Office Workplace - Managing Generation X in the Office Workplace

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The third group of workers currently building careers in the workforce is those people born between 1965 and 1980.  Called Generation X, often shortened to Gen X, this group makes up 19 percent of the total workforce today. As the Veterans and Baby Boomers retire, Gen Xers will soon comprise the majority of the workforce.

While stereotyping any group of people, Gen Xers have on average displayed traits that can benefit an organization if managed properly; however, if these workers are managed as if “one size fits all”, major conflicts can result. Gen Xers have a very different attitude and opinion about work and how to accomplish work effectively.

Gen Xers seek balance between work and family. They want to be evaluated by the results of their efforts rather than the hours spent in the office. After watching their parents “live to work”, Xers are committed to “working to live” and finding satisfying work that allows flexibility.

The different attitudes and opinions of Generation Xers has forced organizations to rethink everything including management techniques, standards and regulations, compensation, and much more. Generation X employees are loyal first to themselves yet strongly loyal to their employers. They have skepticism about large organizations and do not like dealing with bureaucracy and inflexible rules. They tend to change jobs more frequently than past generations, choosing jobs that offer more flexibility and better benefits. Employers who communicate to Generation Xers to “follow the rules and accept things the way they are or go work some place else” will quickly find that in most cases, the employee will go somewhere else.

Flexibility in work styles and locations is important to Gen Xers. Because money is not the main factor sought by Gen Xers, offering telecommuting and flexible work hours as an will likely be viewed by this group as a great reward and motiving factor. It shows trust for the employee on the part of the employer and flexibility of work hours; however, the older generations may assume that the telecommuter is not working at all since they are not sitting at their desk in the traditional office.

Generation Xers want a work environment that is fun and makes them want to come to the office. Some examples include casual dress except on days when meeting directly with important clients, the opportunity to take unpaid sabbaticals, or the option to take time off instead of getting paid for overtime. This group of workers seeks career development opportunities. They desire high levels of responsibility and want ways to allow innovative appropriate creative ideas to be input into projects and tasks.  

 By understanding and respecting the work styles and values of the Generation Xers, any organization can benefit from their skills and the value they add to the bottom line. Using this understanding, struggles between the younger team members and the older groups can be mitigated. Create a work environment that respected each age group and educate employees to respect all employees to build a workplace culture that works for everyone.

Next, we will look at the youngest generation currently in the work environment: Generation Y. 

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By: James Osgood

Flexible Workspace

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