THE BLOG
12/09/2014 05:15 pm ET Updated Feb 07, 2015

How to Manage Your Small Business' Generation X Workers

There are likely multiple generations working for your small business. By taking the time to understand their unique needs, you can reduce employee turnover. Structuring your policies and procedures and even your compensation could help you retain all of the generations--especially Generation X.

Who are Generation X Workers?
Generation X employees were born between 1965 and 1980, and total about 45 million people in the U.S. Your Generation X workers will be responsible for managing your staff after the Baby Boomers have retired.

Leverage Their Strengths
Generation X was raised on computers, so they prefer virtual work environments. They generally don't like working extra hours, but they will do what is required of them during regular working hours and always strive to meet their deadlines.

Formalities and rules don't apply much with Generation X workers--in fact, if you have too many rules you may find your Generation X employees unsatisfied with their jobs. If the rules you have in place make it difficult for Generation X workers to complete their tasks by their assigned deadline, they may start looking for new employment.

But Generation X workers are very good multitaskers. They prefer a work environment that fosters growth and learning, and they thrive on change. Traditions typically don't go over well with Generation X employees, and they are always looking for faster, better ways to complete tasks.

How to Reward Generation X Employees
The rewards your average Generation X employee wants are much different than Baby Boomers or even Millennials. They prefer salary increases as opposed to stock options or the idea that they could be promoted in the future.

Generation X employees also respect their independence and work-life, meaning they don't like to blend the two together. They need time off to spend with loved ones and enjoy non-work interests, which they view as a reward.

A Few Things You Can Do to Please Generation X Workers
  • Give them variety: Generation X employees get bored quickly, so you can help change it up by offering flexible schedules, less corporate-like structures, and even an opportunity to collaborate with management staff.
  • Collaborative work: The average Generation X worker appreciates collaboration and thrives in groups. They are natural relationship-builders, and they would prefer to have a say in new policies and procedures before they're implemented.
  • Communication: As long as you remain open with your Generation X staff, they will be happy. Transparency is key for Generation X workers. If they feel like they're being left out or they don't know what is going on with the company, they are more likely to move on to another job.

Generation X workers are going to take over management positions in your small business very soon (if they haven't already). Therefore, you want to make adjustments so that they're happy and willing to stay with your business as management roles open up.

Learn more about how you can avoid costly turnover and manage your Generation X employees by getting your copy of Practical Tools to Manage Costly Employee Turnover.

Margaret Jacoby, SPHR, is the founder and president of MJ Management Solutions,a human resources consulting firm that provides small businesses with a wide range of virtual and onsite HR solutions to meet their immediate and long-term needs. From ensuring legal compliance to writing customized employee handbooks to conducting sexual harassment training, businesses depend on our expertise and cost-effective human resources services to help them thrive. This article first appeared on the MJ Management Solutions blog.

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