Forgotten Gen Xers: What Motivates the 'Sandwich Generation'

Forgotten Gen Xers: What Motivates the 'Sandwich Generation'
Leadership pros answer three questions about the "Sandwich Generation."

Need a break from all the attention that Millennials get? If so, there's another cohort that could use some love: Generation Xers.

"Gen Xers" were born from the mid-1960s through the 1970s. They make up the second-largest share of the U.S. workforce and command the third-largest segment of the country's population. Moreover, they are helping to effect a major workforce transition.

"There is a massive demographic shift underway in the workplace," said Kip Kelly, director of marketing and public programs for the Executive Development unit of the University of North Carolina's Kenan-Flagler Business School. "In less than 10 years, Millennials will represent 75 percent of the global workforce. Every day, the workforce is becoming more diverse than ever before, with several generations working side by side. Generation X is in a unique position to lead, serving as a bridge between Baby Boomers and Millennials."

Kip Kelly
Valerie Jones, Careers Editor, Rigzone
Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina

Although they comprise a smaller group between two larger generations, Gen Xers – aptly described as the "Sandwich Generation" – are taking on a central role in the workforce despite receiving less attention than other cohorts, said Stefani Yorges, Industrial/Organizational Psychologist and head of the West Chester, Pa., leadership development company Leading Higher.

"Gen Xers … are gaining influence in the workplace as Boomers retire in increasing numbers," Yorges said. "The fact that they are the 'Sandwich Generation' affects Gen X. They often feel invisible. Because their generation is significantly smaller than other generations, they have often been overlooked by the media and society."

What's Shaped Gen Xers?

Political events such as Watergate, the Iran hostage situation and the end of the Cold War as well as economic recessions in the late 1970s and early 1980s influenced Gen Xers' view of the world, noted Yorges. Such events "resulted in a generation with a healthy skepticism about formal authority," she said, adding that the fall from grace of prominent figures such as President Bill Clinton and pro football legend O.J. Simpson contributed to their general distrust of organizations and leaders.

"Leadership, as defined by Gen Xers, equates to competency," she said. "In other words, seniority is not as valued as proving one's ability to lead."

Stefani Yorges
Valerie Jones, Careers Editor, Rigzone
Industrial/Organizational Psychologist, Leading Higher

Economic challenges often translated into upheavals on a personal level for Gen Xers, Yorges added. "This generation witnessed high unemployment, layoffs/downsizing and family relocations caused by economic instability as they were growing up," she explained. "As a result, Gen Xers tend to be independent and individualistic, placing more value on their own careers over loyalty to organizations. Gen Xers, many of whom grew up as 'latchkey' kids, are independent, resilient and adaptable."

Kelly added that Gen Xers often exhibit resourcefulness and self-sufficiency but may be reluctant to highlight those attributes. They "are less likely to say that they are unique, compared to Millennials and Baby Boomers," he said.

What Drives Them in The Workplace?

Gen Xers often place a premium on clarity in regard to expectations, autonomy to achieve desired outcomes and striking a proper balance between their professional and personal lives, the sources interviewed for this article said.

"They expect clear goals, but they want the freedom to make independent decisions to achieve those goals," said Kelly. "They want leaders who will give them autonomy to be successful."

In terms of interacting with co-workers, Gen Xers tend to favor "technology-based interactions" over "unnecessary face-to-face meetings," Yorges added.


12

View Full Article

Matthew V. Veazey has written about the oil and gas industry since 2000. Email Matthew at mveazey@rigzone.com

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Click on the button below to add a comment.
Post a Comment
Generated by readers, the comments included herein do not reflect the views and opinions of Rigzone. All comments are subject to editorial review. Off-topic, inappropriate or insulting comments will be removed.
Karen Lim | Apr. 12, 2017
I grew up as a Gen X with most of the benefits that Gen Y enjoy, ie travel the world and having an intuitive feel for technology and gadgets since my first computer was in 1983. haha! Because of my affinity with technology which is a rarity for most Gen X.. they call me a rich kid, I understand Gen Ys addiction to tech and they need for constant feedback since well, we live in a current society that gives constant feedback immediately! Gen X mostly grew up as latchkey kids so were mostly very quiet, not as chatty or boastful as Gen Y and Millenials with a healthy skepticism for authority and rules but were also an awesome dependable, trustworthy, resilient and independent lot. I enjoy good work life balance and having the time to indulge in very projects though I can be a workaholic at times.

Gary Gilmore | Apr. 12, 2017
Describes me to a t


Events  SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER

Our Privacy Pledge
SUBSCRIBE

More from this Author
Matthew V. Veazey
Senior Editor | Rigzone
 -  A Newcomer's Guide to Oil and Gas: A G... (Jul 17)
 -  TWITTER POLL: Rigzone Readers Weigh In... (Jul 14)
 -  Report: For Now, NOC Refiners Winning ... (Jul 11)
 -  BLOG: Are Northeasterners Really So An... (Jul 6)
 -  TECH SHOWCASE: A 'Blindness' Cure for ... (Jul 3)


Most Popular Articles

From the Career Center
Jobs that may interest you
Executive Assistant
Expertise: Executive
Location: Houston, TX
 
On-site Construction Coordinator
Expertise: Client Representative|Laborer|Secretarial or Administrative
Location: Pecos, TX
 
Operations Specialist - DJ Operations
Expertise: Operations Management
Location: Platteville, CO
 
search for more jobs

Brent Crude Oil : $49.3/BBL 0.80%
Light Crude Oil : $46.79/BBL 0.70%
Natural Gas : $3.04/MMBtu 0.97%
Updated in last 24 hours