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Forget Millennials And Boomers. Gen X Will Save The Workplace

In the craziness that is our workplace today, it has been said that every answer to life can actually be found in the TV show The Brady Bunch.

Gen Xers are the Jan Bradys of the work world, and right now they are screaming “Marcia! Marcia! Marcia!” but no one is listening.

In the findings that we published in our white paper, The Marcia Moment, we recognized that Gen X is caught between the boomers, who represent the talented and pretty Marcia Brady, and the delightful Cindy Bradys, who are the millennials.

No one got prizes

As our research and countless others’ show, Gen X has been fired, abused and ignored for all of the 21st century and overshadowed by the boomers during the latter half of 20th century. They didn’t get pampered. No one ever put a Baby on Board sticker on a car window in that era.

My mom and her friend Ellen threw us in a station wagon (no seat belts), smoked cigarettes and let us play outside unsupervised until the street lights came on. On one trip, poor Denis fell out of the back of the station wagon and our parents thought it was funny. (OK, we all did.) But we did eventually go back and pick him up.

They have worked through more recessions than their parents or grandparents ever did.

No self-respecting Gen Xer was ever given a medal for participation; most of us got a kick in the butt if we didn’t participate, and like our boomer parents, we just accepted it and moved on.

Gen X is the most misunderstood group in the workforce today. They have been ignored because of the brilliant boomers before them and the magnificent millennials who followed them.

Gen X is your bread and butter. They have worked through more recessions than their parents or grandparents ever did. Most often they are executive leaders who are on the cusp of becoming the C-class, but aren’t thriving in the workplace. The closer these workers get to 55 the more their knowledge becomes invaluable to your organization and to your customers. They are your intellectual capital.

tired office worker older
(Photo: Seb_ra via Getty Images)

Exhausted and stressed

In our Marcia Moment white paper, we reviewed data from 6,500 people. Gen X is exhausted. If this were 1950 and a Gen X walked into a doctor’s office, he or she would be hospitalized over their stress.

Gen X has to manage both boomers and millennials, and they are getting really tired.

Intellectual capital

Your organization is losing culture capital as boomers retire. Gen X possess your intellectual capital. If you don’t look after Gen X, and this capital is depleted, your organization will find it tough to recover. You’ll be left with an uninspired workforce and a customer base that will erode.

mature office woman
(Photo: Tom Merton via Getty Images)

If not repaired, Gen X malaise in the workforce corrodes the enthusiasm and commitment of millennials. This malaise can be attributed to Gen X no longer feeling valued. Gen X are the managers, and our data indicate that if organizations begin to pay attention to the Gen X-millennial relationship, your churn will drop by 50 per cent and your productivity will increase by 11 per cent.

Today, all the chatter in leadership development is about millennials and retiring boomers. Let’s be honest: for most organizations, no millennial is going to be tapped for a top job unless it is an Internet or marketing firm, yet many of these organizations are spending money on understanding their millennials and helping boomers feel good as they retire.

Like Mr. and Mrs. Brady, clever employers are realizing they need to pay more attention to Gen X.

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