Millennials. It seems you can’t read a business news site without stumbling onto at least one article about the pros and cons of hiring Gen Y employees. Yet all that focus on the emerging wave of digital natives could lead you to overlook a powerful asset to your team: Generation X employees.
When you’re ready to make your next hire, don’t overlook the potential value the MTV Generation can deliver for your company.
- Gen X straddles the tech divide.
Generation X, born between about 1965 and 1984, is the only generation to have worked on both sides of the tech revolution. Sure, their only experience with tech in high school may have been a weekly computer lab, but they were also on the forefront when workplaces began adopting digital tools like email.
This means they may be better positioned than other workers to not only adopt changing technologies but also know when it’s appropriate to reject tech in favor of older methods. For example, an experienced Gen X worker may understand when it’s better to send a text message to a client—and when it’s better to arrange a face-to-face meeting.
- Gen X assumes the knowledge mantle.
An increasing number of Baby Boomers are retiring. As they do so, they take with them their institutional knowledge—sometimes decades’ worth. That brain drain amounts to the shared experiences and expertise that provide insight into internal challenges and solutions. For instance, when Sally retires, there’s no one left who remembers that Client A should NEVER be seated next to Client B at the annual appreciation lunch.
As a group, Millennials tend to move frequently from job to job. One Gallop poll reported that 21 percent of Millennials have changed jobs within the past year, more than triple the number of non-Millennials. That often translates into younger workers acquiring less of the institutional knowledge employers can use as an asset.
This positions Generation X employees as natural heirs to in-depth, internal expertise and insights. Since they tend to stay at jobs for longer periods, they accumulate the institutional knowledge that can guide decision makers and add perspective to important discussions.
- Gen X makes ideal mentor material.
What Millennial employees offer in skills like multitasking and confidence, they sometimes lack in other critical areas, including soft skills like communication or problem solving.
Gen Xers can serve as valuable mentors for less experienced employees, guiding them through common challenges, from solving a disagreement with a coworker to finding a new solution for a client.
Millennial employees aren’t the only ones who benefit from mentorship. Generation X workers can learn from their mentees, as well. For example, they can benefit from Gen Y’s willingness to adopt super-new technologies. Less experienced workers can also help their mentors recognize and adapt to shifting social norms.
- Gen X brings the motivation.
One survey found that many Gen Xers are self-motivated to succeed. In addition, the survey revealed that 52 percent of executives believe Gen X is the most engaged generation. That motivation and engagement could play into the findings of another survey, which found that Generation X employees, as a group, are considered the best revenue generators.
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