Study warns Gen Xers frustrated with traditional corporate roles

Posted On July 16, 2013

Gen Xers have long been jaded with the traditional corporate structure – hierarchies don’t sit well with this group that gives respect via personal interactions rather than at the command of an org chart. Still, the corporate world has its perks and Gen Xers were known to negotiate for them – flex time, company cell phones, telecommuting – these were the hallmarks of the generation. Today, studies indicate these perks may not be enough.

According to the BBC, companies are increasingly focused on retention of Boomers and attracting Millennials, while Gen Xers are feeling left behind. Frustrated by a lack of upward mobility, more and more Xers are leaving the corporate world to pursue more entrepreneurial ventures. Now, at first glance this may seem like a natural evolution for the group that doesn’t embrace hierarchy, and one might be tempted to think “good riddance, they never really wanted to be here anyway.” But that would be a mistake.

Corporations need Generation X employees. They are the leadership bridge between aging Boomers and ambitious, but not quite seasoned, Millennials. To keep this organizational knowledge in place, companies need to continue to court their Xer employees – in very much the same ways they attracted them in the first place – though they may not be ready to control the company just yet, they can and should be given more control over many aspects of their jobs. Create a clear career path, and follow through on promises. Embrace flexible schedules, where possible – regardless of the reason an employee requests it. Offer incremental increases in responsibility – without taking away flexibility.

Pay attention to your Gen X employees – they are the leaders of tomorrow, even if they will go about it a different way. Boomers are rapidly retiring and you don’t want to be in a position of putting Millennials in charge before they are ready. Their numbers may be smaller, but Gen Xers can still be a contributing force in the corporate environment.

Categories: Succession Planning, Workplace