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Who Are
Generation X?
Demographics Defining life events
• Born 1961 to 1981 • Collapse of the Soviet Union
• About 42 percent of today’s workforce1 • Reaganomics
• About 40 million people – less than half the size of the Baby • Corporate downsizing; merger mania; Wall Street frenzy
Boomer generation2 • Punk rock
• Children of the Veteran and (older) Baby Boomer generations • Iranian hostage crisis
• Older siblings of Gen Yers • Space shuttle Challenger tragedy
• Cutbacks in funding for social programs and education
• Information explosion
What they’re called
• Generation X
• Baby Busters Impact of technological advancement
• MTV Generation • Appreciate technology that lets them customize their work
• First generation to use computers in school
Characteristics • Video games and MTV played a major role in their childhood
• Skeptical
• Drivers of the Internet revolution
• Pragmatic
• Adaptable
• Self-Reliant Generation X at work
• Informal • Focus on results
• Technoliterate • Pragmatic; expect efficiency
• Diversity-Minded • Appreciate clear communication about their goals and
• Focused on today responsibilities
• Believe in a balance between personal time and work time
• Want work to include fun
Beliefs • Like an informal, friendly environment
• Leadership can’t be assigned, it has to be earned
• Expect up-to-date technology
• Work and personal life should be balanced—“Why give your
• Value skill-development training and accumulating
life to a company that may just lay you off?”
transferable job skills
• Individuals must take charge of their own career; creators of
• Rely on themselves, not the company, for career
“Me, Inc.”
advancement; understand this is the way it is today
• Less is more; rejection of free-spending consumerism of the
• Reject corporate “games”
Baby Boomers
• Appreciate real-time performance feedback
• Need to address the social problems from previous
• Like immediate, tangible rewards
• Desire flexible work arrangements
• Enjoy freedom to get the job done in their own way
Defining life experiences
• Many come from single-parent or blended families; “latchkey
• Increasingly flexible gender roles
• Feel overshadowed by—and alienated from—the huge Baby
Boomer generation
• Breakdown of authority

1 Communicating Total Rewards to the Generations, Leah Reynolds, Benefits Quaterly, 2005
2 Communicating Total Rewards to the Generations, Leah Reynolds, Benefits Quaterly, 2005
Creating a Gen X workplace
Slow and unwieldy Streamlined, efficient, flexible
Do it because: Do it because:
• I said so It makes sense
• That’s the way we’ve always done it
• You’ve got to “pay your dues”
“Face time” Challenge and results
Playing “games” Authentic behavior; worthy of respect; trust
Passive learning Interactivity, real-time information and mentoring
Corporate ladder; pension Stellar resume; growth and development; 401(k) match

“Gen Xers are the first generation to demand good “They [Gen Xers] can smell baloney a mile away, so
management as a basic term of employment.” forget trying to con them.” “Boomers and Gen Xers: Can
They Get Along?”
— Managing Generation X, Bruce Tulgan, 2000.
—Wall Street Journal, May 14, 2001.
“Xers have launched just about every independent
Internet Service Provider (ISP) and e-business in the “If you’re ready to create a fun, flexible, educational,
country.” “Living With and Loving Workforce X,” nonmicromanaged work atmosphere where Xers
have a variety of projects to engage them, you’ll have
—RAI News, January 2003.
Generation X beating down the door to go to work for
“(Generation X) adults feel the opposing tugs of making
money and doing good works, but they refuse to get —Generations at Work, Ron Zemke, Claire Raines, Bob Filipczak, 2000.
caught up in the passion of either one.”
—David M. Gross and Sophfronia Scott in Time magazine, July 16, 1990.
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