The Battle for Talent is Heating Up, Are You Ready?

November 1, 2011

This is an interesting time in the history of business – workplace dynamics are in the midst of a huge shift. Baby Boomers in their 60’s are running into the challenges of managing the very different needs of those in the Y generation. In fact, so much focus has been placed on these two sizeable generations colliding in the marketplace, that the generation in between them, Generation X, has been largely forgotten.

As Boomers begin to plan for retirement and Gen Y enters the workforce, freshly developing their skills and experience, who will businesses look to for leadership in the interim, but Generation X?

The problem for businesses?  Gen X is the smallest generation of the three, which means the talent pool for effective managers is much smaller than the generation before them. Between the ages of 33-46, Xers have the skills, knowledge and experience to take over leadership roles from Baby Boomers but will they want to work for you? And if so, how will you retain them?

To make sure your company has the competitive edge in hiring and retaining these leaders, you must get to know the mind of this Breakfast Club Generation and what they value, how they learn and how to best utilize their strengths in the marketplace. Companies also need to begin to implement leadership training programs tailored to the needs and desires of Xers, creating mentoring and job shadowing programs that will help retain this generation.


The Mind of Generation X

Unlike their predecessors, who were driven by a need for security, Gen X is driven by the desire for autonomy and change. Independent risk takers, Xers take more chances than those who came before them – even leaving the stability of a long-term job to take a chance on something new.

Gen X has a completely different outlook on careers and the workplace. This is a generation that watched their parents be downsized after a lifetime at a “good job,” and they have not forgotten that sobering lesson. Companies no longer have the luxury of employees who spend 30 years, unquestioned in their employ.  Xers do not rely upon employers for their long-term stability. They value an environment that is stimulating, that lets them have a say in their work life and future.

This generation also watched their predecessors work tirelessly, at the expense of family life, only to be turned out into the cold. Because of this, high on a Xer’s list is a healthy work/life balance. Generation X defines their level of success by how well work fits into the demands of their home life and will leave in order to keep that balance equitable.

How to Attract, Retain and Train Gen X for Leadership

  • Adopt generation specific recruitment materials, training and management approaches
  • Create opportunities for growth within the organization
  • Make them partners in success, encouraging creative solutions and autonomy
  • Give them a voice, soliciting opinions frequently
  • Develop a practical retention policy based on the needs of Gen X
  • Offer flexible schedules and work from home opportunities to help Xers achieve their desired work/life balance

In order to successfully cultivate and retain the leadership qualities of Generation X you have to consider the value differences between the generations in your career coaching style. Understanding these differences in lifestyle, workplace philosophy, and work ethic can build a bridge for the future of your organization.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram