To the members of Generation X, success doesn’t necessarily mean accumulating power or calling every shot. So-called “Xers” tend to seek a sensible balance between their work and personal lives. Companies interested in 21st century competitiveness must provide that balance, according to a survey of 1,200 Gen Xers. Baby Boomer Charlotte Shelton and her Xer daughter Laura Shelton examine the attitudes of Gen X professional women as they look to the future. getAbstract recommends this as a heads-up for Boomer-age leaders and their Gen X colleagues. Now is the time to think about the work environment you must create to recruit and retain young talent. And if you are an up-and-coming Xer, now is the time to decide what you want to up-and-come to.
The moniker “Generation X” seems to have entered popular culture as a result of Douglas Coupland’s 1991 book Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture. These short stories painted American young people at the time as disengaged, disgruntled with traditional work and family values, generally well educated, and yet too restless to stick with one career. Ronald Reagan and MTV shaped Gen Xers, who were born between 1964 and 1977. Their predecessors include the Baby Boomers, who grew up during the Civil Rights and women’s lib movements, the Cold War and Vietnam, and the earlier “Traditionalists,” shaped by WWII and the U.S. economic expansion.
Perhaps because of their parents’ hopefulness, Gen Xers grew up believing that nothing was impossible. But when their perfect jobs never quite materialized, corporate politics disappointed them or career success didn’t bring them fulfillment, Xers grew skeptical and disillusioned.
Female Gen Xers faced an additional hurdle. Despite decades of advocacy for equal rights for women, ample evidence shows that the “good old boy” bias is still very much in place in corporate life. Women are not equally represented...
Charlotte Shelton is an experienced consultant, coach and teacher. Her earlier book is Quantum Leaps: 7 Skills for Workplace Recreation. Her daughter, Laura Shelton, is a Fox television news reporter, and a contributor to several television programs.