Gen X could be 'make or break' generation for firms
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Despite being the smallest generation in size,
Generation X might be "the most critical generation of all” for employers,
according to a study by the Center for Work-Life Policy.
Generation X possesses many skills critical to
companies today, according to "The X Factor: Tapping into the Strengths of the
33- to 46-Year-Old Generation.”
Despite having been nicknamed the "slacker
generation,” Generation X enrolled in higher education in record numbers. Over
a third of Gen X hold bachelor’s degrees and 11 percent have graduate degrees.
Women and minorities made up 64 percent of graduates during the Gen X college
years. Many of the group’s minorities are the first in their families to
graduate from college: 49 percent for African-Americans and 54 percent for
Hispanics, compared to 33 percent of Caucasians.
Faced with economic challenges throughout their
working lives, Gen Xers have been laid off, restructured, outsourced,
reorganized and relocated more than any other generation in modern times. They
have mastered change and possess the sort of resilience that organizations need
as they face an uncertain future, according to the study.
However, these strengths risk being nullified by
diminished loyalty, declining engagement and increasing apathy, according to
the study. As Boomers work longer than anticipated, nearly half of Gen Xers
feel stalled in their careers.
Debt is a key to many Generation X career
choices; 43 percent say their ability to pay off student loans is an important
factor in their career choices and 74 percent say the same about credit card
debt. The vast majority (91 percent of women and 68 percent of men) are part of
a dual-earning couple. More than a third of Gen X women out-earn their spouses.
Gen X is not only highly ambitious, but their
ambition is nearly gender neutral: 75 percent of women and 72 percent of men
consider themselves ambitious, the study found. What’s more, the group is eager
to amplify their talents by learning new skills and garnering new experiences.
The Center for
Work-Life Policy study was based on virtual strategy sessions, 10 focus groups,
one-on-one interviews and a survey of 2,952 U.S. college-educated men and women
in white collar occupations.