This blog entry is part two in Jacobson’s Generational Spotlight Series, which provides a general overview of the generations active in the workforce. While we understand that these overviews may include broad stereotypes that do not apply to all members of that particular generational breakdown, we believe there is value in looking at today’s professionals from a generational perspective in order to gain a better understanding of their viewpoints.
Generation X—also known as the Baby Busters, Post-Boomers and the Thirteenth Generation—currently accounts for 33% of the U.S. labor force, with 50 million employees. With the insurance industry expecting to see a dramatic loss of executive and management level talent due to an impending wave of retirements, these professionals are preparing to step up into industry leadership roles.
But what does this generation of professionals look like? How can organizations prepare themselves for Generation X’s shift into a leadership position?
Born between 1965 and 1980, Generation X grew up hearing adults worry about recession, inflation and stagflation. They saw world leaders, including President Nixon, fall from grace. They were shaped by historic events such as Chernobyl, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Tiananmen Square uprisings.
Generation X is pragmatic, resourceful and innovative. They thrive on challenges and enjoy tasks and assignments that allow them to demonstrate their personal skills. They value global thought, technology and independence. In the workplace, Gen X professionals enjoy achieving measurable goals and streamlining systems and processes for success. They look for organizations that offer flexible schedules and will adapt to their preferences.
For Gen Xers, autonomy is key. They are self-reliant in their professional careers and desire the freedom to manage themselves. Organizations should provide them with control over their work, learning and schedule. Tap into their adaptability for challenging and important tasks. Consider setting aside time for Gen X employees to work on personal projects or allow them to choose their own assignments.
In addition to autonomy, Gen Xers place great emphasis on results and believe they should be rewarded for their achievements. Make sure your organization is aligning visibility, promotions and rewards on results rather than tenure lest you disengage your Gen X employees. Provide frequent, accurate, specific and timely feedback on professional performance and room for improvement. Gen Xers want to build their skills and improve their resumes, so this targeted advice is important to them.
Professional growth is key to Gen X engagement. This generation is focused on the ability to grow and develop their skills. In fact, Gen X employees identify professional development as their most-desired job perk. Focus on ramping up your career development and training programs in order to provide these employees with the ability to grow and develop their skills. Present opportunities for Gen Xers to take on additional responsibilities, stretch assignments and supervisory duties. Encourage them to join professional groups or associations or institute a companywide mentoring program. Offer financial support for continuing education programs and professional training. Not only will this go a long way in supporting employee engagement, but a professional development program will also help position Gen X for a role at the top of the company ladder.
Generation X is poised to take the helm of the insurance industry. What is your organization doing to support them?