The workplace is a healthy mix of many generations. We have Baby Boomers who are nearing the ends of their careers and Millennials—or Generation Y— whose careers are just beginning. But, these are not the only two generations in our organizations. Yet, when looking at news articles dealing Millennials and Baby Boomers tend to steal the limelight. These reports would lead us to believe that these are the only generations in the work world today. Of course, they’re not.
Because of this, Generation X often is overshadowed and unheard, yet they are an integral part of the workforce and deserve to be included. This is also the perspective of Mary Donohue’s Huffington Post article, “Why Gen X Is Unhappy and Hates Working.” While she thinks it’s wise to be studying the up and coming generation (Millennials) and the retirement habits and trends of Baby Boomers, she notes that fewer resources are being spent on Generation X.
“…to build your company you need to also starting thinking about what is happening with the Gen X now,” writes Donohue. She then goes on to say that, while Gen X has been studied the least out of the generations in the workplace, that doesn’t make them any less important. “The closer these workers get to 50 the more their knowledge becomes invaluable to your organization and to your customers,” says Donohue.
The message is loud and clear—Generation X is crucial to the success of our organizations, yet we aren’t treating them like it. While we focus on making sure Baby Boomers are prepared for retirement—and we are prepared for their exodus—and we try to understand the idiosyncrasies of Millennials, we may be overlooking those equally valuable employees we have who fall in between. Their knowledge and skills, like Donohue says, are invaluable, and to ignore them would be counterproductive to business growth.
In other words, we need to be more inclusive of all of the generations in our workplaces.
What is the best way to remedy this problem?
First, make sure you’re not ignoring your Gen Xers. They have significant knowledge of your business that you’ll need once the Baby Boomers begin to leave. When they do, these Gen Xers will be next in line to help grow your organization and well positioned to mentor your Millennial staff members. It makes sense to start engaging with them now!
Next, talk to your Generation X employees. Learn what they like most about your company, if they think they’re being listened to or if they feel their needs are being met. The best way to know if you’re being inclusive of your employees is to open up the dialogue and ask. Ask how things are going for them. Ask for their input on where they think the company is going. Be inclusive of their ideas and their input.
Inclusivity isn’t for just one generation—it’s for employees of all ages and stages of life!
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