Photo: woven slippers I spotted on the Nakasendo Trail, Japan November 2018
Gen X (1965 and 1980)
For Gen X, work is not only a source of income, but where many get their identity, influence and connectedness with a community.
Gen X are currently at the peak of their careers taking over leadership of the company or waiting in the wings. They have experienced huge swings in economic boom and bust, witnessed retrenchment, burnout and technology disruption.
Challenges in retaining Gen X is that they are not a homogenous group. There are at least 4 groups with their unique characteristics:
(i) Waiting to take over leadership from Baby Boomers
(ii) Those who distrust company lifelong employment yet have expertise and able to work independently with minimal supervision. This group is more entrepreneurial with desire more control over their time and goals. Some will move on to become start-up founders.
(iii) Another untapped group are highly educated spouses, primarily women who have taken time off to look after young children and now ready to return to the workforce.
(iv) Need time off to look after young children or aging parents.
What companies can do
(i) Provide mentorship from Baby Boomers, bonus to recognise their contributions and leadership assignments to stretch them. Give them opportunities to mentor Gen Y and Z.
(ii) Provide consulting opportunities in the firm and maintain open door in case any want to return should ventures fail
(iii) Provide training and connect them to support groups to re-orientate and build confidence and skills. Flexible schedules and telecommuting or part-time work.
(iv) Allow time off and open door to return in future. Keep them connected to a support group and provide a sense of belonging (Maslow) to the workplace.