Engaging and Retaining Gen X Talent

Lauren Winans

The internet is saturated with information about how to keep Millennials and Gen Z engaged in the workplace—so much so that their generational predecessor, Gen X, is often forgotten.

Born sometime between 1965 and 1980, Gen Xers grew up during exciting times. They watched the Berlin Wall come down and the Cold War de-escalate, played “The Oregon Trail” on the first home computers, visited the internet’s first clunky chat rooms, and watched NASA take space exploration to new heights and then fade into semi-irrelevance. 

Who is Gen X?

Indeed, Gen X often seems to be the neglected middle child squashed between Baby Boomers and Millennials. But despite seeming somewhat forgotten, Gen X employees are likely the backbone of your company. According to DDI’s Global Leadership Forecast, this generation holds over half of the leadership roles in the US workplace, and whatever you may believe, CNBC reveals that Gen Xers are the real force behind digital transformation. 

Gen X employees have been working hard and getting things done for decades. However, just like their Millennial and Gen Z colleagues, there’s a high probability that your Gen X employees are feeling disengaged from their work. While we so often focus on the differences between generations, recent studies by LiveCareer and Oyster reveal that Gen X wants the same things out of work as today’s younger generations. 

Below, I lay out five strategies to help you reengage with and retain Gen X talent.

1. Provide opportunities for Gen X employees to grow and develop 

In the LiveCareer study, every generation ranked career growth as their second highest priority, with 42 percent of Gen Xers marking it as their top priority. Clearly, Gen Xers are interested in learning new skills and advancing their careers. 

To help your Gen X employees grow, provide them with training programs and mentorship opportunities. If you challenge them in their work and enable them to develop new skills, they are more than willing to invest their time and effort into those endeavors.

2. Create work-life balance for Gen X employees

Many Gen Xers are at a point where they need flexibility in the workplace. They manage multiple responsibilities, such as childcare or eldercare, in their personal lives. More flexible schedules allow them to handle responsibilities at home without sacrificing career advancement opportunities at work.

The study by Oyster shows that every generation ranked “flexible working options” as their second highest priority. Similarly, the LiveCareer study finds that 76 percent of Millennials, 69 percent of Gen Z, and 64 percent of Gen X expect and value flexibility. 

3. Recognize and reward the contributions of your Gen X employees

The LiveCareer study found that “job prestige,” or a feeling of being valued at work, is ranked highest by the most participants across every age group. With this in mind, don’t allow Gen Xers to get lost in the shuffle. 

As the leader of your organization, make sure to recognize and reward the contributions of your Gen X employees. Recognition should be timely, meaningful, based on performance and achievement, and consistent across all employees in a way that they understand it’s important to you as their manager or leader. Give public recognition via emails and meetings, and don’t forget about private praise.

4. Offer competitive compensation and benefits to Gen X

The Oyster research finds that regular pay raises are a top priority across every generation. In the survey, 91.4 percent of Gen X, 90.5 percent of Millennials, and 87.2 percent of Gen Z ranked it highest. 

Competitive compensation packages are not just about the money. The better you can financially compensate your employees, the more valued they will feel at work. If you want to engage and retain Gen X, show them they are valued with competitive compensation and benefits.

5. Create a supportive work environment for Gen X employees

If you want to engage and retain Gen X, give them what they need. Gen X employees are looking for a good work-life balance. They want the ability to balance their professional and personal lives, spend time with their families, enjoy hobbies and interests outside of work, and make time for their health. 

The best way to keep Gen Xers on your team is to create an environment where they feel supported and appreciated, so be sure to regularly communicate with your Gen X employees to help them feel more involved and see how they fit into the bigger picture. Encourage collaboration among coworkers and ensure everyone understands how their role contributes toward achieving goals.

Gen X employees are a highly educated, experienced, and motivated workforce that wants to work in a culture that supports their personal and professional growth. By implementing these strategies, your organization can create an environment that is attractive to Gen X employees now and retain them into the future.




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