Generation X — Has Our Day Finally Come?

Members of Gen X (those born between 1960 and 1980), have I got good news for you. I mean us.

A study conducted by EY claims that Gen X (and not those dang Millennials) are viewed more favorably as “the generation best equipped to manage in current economic conditions.”Woo hoo!

And there’s more. When survey respondents were asked which generation is the best at displaying certain positive characteristics, they picked Gen X for seven out of 11. These include being a revenue generator (58 percent) and relationship builder (53 percent) as well as being adaptable (49 percent) and good at problem-solving (57 percent) and collaboration (53 percent).

However, apparently we don’t have quite the “executive presence” as our elder Boomers (28 percent vs. 66 percent). I blame it all on Casual Fridays.

Are Gen X-ers cynical?

On the plus side, Gen X was cited as least likely to be considered difficult to work with (16 percent) or cynical and condescending (29 percent).

I’ll confess that I am surprised by that last bit. Gen X not cynical? No, that’s a fluke, brought on by the addition of “and condescending.”

If the survey had asked about being cynical, period, we’d have ranked pretty high. That’s my two cents, anyway. Or maybe that’s just me. I’m cynical like that.

Now here’s something interesting.

While Gen X was cited as best at managing teams effectively overall, Gen Y/Millennials were cited as being slightly better (69 percent versus 68 percent) at building culturally competent teams and not discriminating based on personal characteristics such as race, gender, sexual orientation, and so on, including taking measures to avoid unconscious bias. And Gen Y totally beat out the Baby Boomers (33 percent versus 16 percent) in their ability to be “inclusive” leaders.

IBM’s slip with older workers

Of course, this is all perception and doesn’t necessarily reflect actual workplace conditions (for example, who’s in management or being groomed for management and who isn’t) or individual attitudes.

And, considering all the news reports about bias against older individuals in hiring, well, it’s a curious contradiction. Gen X is considered prime management material, if only those of us closer than not to 50 could get hired.

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Today I read that IBM revised an ad for semiconductor engineers that originally included a sentence that all applicants must have graduated from college within the past three years.

Hmmm

An IBM spokesperson later said the sentence was inappropriate but denied any intent of the company to dissuade older workers from applying. Come on.

And, granted this is just my experience, but Baby Boomers (many of them parents of the Millennials) fall all over themselves in the workplace fawning over these young chaps. Time magazine didn’t question whether Gen X is the ignored generation for nothing.

In any case, I’m just happy to have my generation finally recognized for the corporate backbone we are.

Hmmph.

Crystal Spraggins, SPHR, is an HR consultant and freelance writer who lives in Philadelphia. She also writes at her blog, HR BlogVOCATE. For the past 15 years, Crystal has focused on building HR departments in small- to mid-sized companies under the philosophy that "HR is not for wimps." She is also the CEO and Founder of Work It Out! and partners with HRCVision, a full-service HR consultant practice specializing in leadership and diversity training. Contact her at crs036@aim.com.

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