Another day, more articles about Millennials. Where are the articles for Gen-Xers? We’re out here and about to be the group that has to lead Millennials and the generation after them in the business world.
Consider that the last of the Baby Boomers will be retiring in the next 10 years. Stack that on top of Gen-Xers that have gained corporate and managerial experience over the last 10 years. Sure, there are Millennials out there that will make (or already are) great managers, too, but Gen-X has the experience to hit the ground running.
Let’s get one thing out of the way, a generation does not define an individual. There are large swaths of individuals in each generations that do meet these profiles though.
The Work/Life balance for Millennials is about satisfaction. They crave both professional and personal fulfillment. If they need fewer hours and less pay to get there, they will get it sorted out through creativity and remote access. To them, their life experience is worth as much as the money they earn.
Consider that Millennials are ditching high cost items, like cars and houses, things that Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers have always taken for granted as necessities.
Perhaps it is because Millennials have witnessed their parents work like crazy and get little in return, or worse buried in debt, in their non-work life.
Millennial Philosophy: Work to Live!
For Gen-Xers, Work/Life balance is about taking financial care of their families. Not only do they have kids, but they are taking care of their aging parents, who are going to live for quite a long time (this will eventually be a Millennial problem too, eventually). They do value their family, but feel that they are better served through hard work and financial responsibility.
Gen-Xers grew up with ‘greed is good’ and, having lost a TON of money over the years, they’re still trying to gain that financial security. Due to the Baby Boomers’ strong work ethic, they take the punches and just keep going.
Gen-Xer Philosophy: Live to Work!
What is Gen-X Thinking?
As a member of Gen-X, I can see the appeal in the Millennial philosophy. For me, my career is a race to stay ahead to ensure my family has the financial security to send 3 kids to college (all will overlap for at least for 1 year) while making sure I can take care of my parents, who are close to retirement.
A lot of Gen-Xers are so far down this path that they can’t stop. They’ve purchased homes and bought into the same American dream that our parents help set up. So, now what are they to do?
Here’s what it comes down to. Gen-X is seeing how the Millenials operate and realizing that the work struggle isn’t the legacy we want to leave our families. We’re picking up the same tools as Millennials and leveraging them to give us a flexible work experience. All of this is while maintaining and improving our results at work.
The Downfall of the Flexible Work Movement
The one thing that will kill off this movement though is same thing that will kill it off for the Millennials. Employers need to recognize that, in some cases where the job (and person) can handle it, working remotely is just as effective as working in the office. Of course, some companies can’t seem to figure out even how to have remote offices!
I’ve seen flexible and remote work in my own industry. In IT, you don’t have to be in front of a server to manage it. The cloud and global accessibility has hastened this argument. Since IT folks are highly technical, we’ve embraced collaboration tools to work remotely from the rest of our team. As a manager of a global team, I’ve been able to be effective without ever meeting half of my team in person.
Millennials have led the charge for a better Work/Life balance, but Gen-X is adopting their methodologies. As Gen-X move into leadership roles, expect more flexible and results oriented initiatives. On the flip side, they will ask for accountability, otherwise the model falls apart.