Gen X at Work: How to Keep them Happy and Productive

Blog / Gen X at Work: How to Keep them Happy and Productive

What Makes Gen X Tick and How to Keep them Happy and More Productive at Work

Traditional approaches to motivating employees have hit a snag as we start to see the Baby Boomers retire and younger generations making up a bigger percentage of employees In fact, Gen X makes up more than 50% of the current workforce! 

So what makes Gen X tick and what gets them excited to go into work? Let’s take a look at how you can help job motivation for Gen X employees that keeps them happy and your workforce productive. 

Who is Gen X? (Hint: They Aren’t All Karens)

Generation X are those born between 1965 and 1980, putting them in their 30s, 40s and 50s currently. This generation is often referred to as “latch-key kids” as many were accustomed to taking care of themselves at home due to the fact that both parents were in the workforce. This formative experience led to a streak of independence, but don’t mistake them all for middle-aged “Karens.” They are known for positive traits such as self-reliance, resourcefulness, adaptability and having a hard-working ethic. 

Problem Solver Extraordinaire

Gen Xers have been taking care of and managing themselves for quite some time. And there is one saying they’ll be more than happy to steal from Millennials if you attempt to micromanage them and that’s, “Okay, Boomer.” Give your Gen X workers some freedom to work independently and you’ll see their creativity blossom. And if you have a problem that needs to be solved or something that needs to get done, you can count on their resourcefulness to get it done ASAP. 

“I Knew a Time Before the Internet”

While Gen Xers were good at using a card catalogue in the library as a kid, that doesn’t mean they aren’t tech savvy. They grew up in a time of both social and technological change and adapt well to those changes. They embrace and thrive on diversity, challenges, responsibility, honesty and creative input in the workforce. So give them opportunities for professional development and lifelong learning, such as mentorships or conferences, and you’ll see a happy employee that is more productive. They look for room to grow in skills and knowledge. Also, give them leadership opportunities to fill their need to meet challenges. And take diversity in your workforce seriously. Gen X wants to work for an organization that gives them a chance to make a difference and that values the input of different voices. 


For Gen X, work isn’t the end all be all. You can thank Gen X for the idea of work-life balance. So while they work hard to create an established career for themselves, they still believe in the importance of being present for their families. This means that they value benefits that prioritize flexibility. Gen X is the current “sandwich generation,” taking care of both parents and children. Give them flexible work hours, family-friendly programs, remote work or hybrid work options and you’ll be sure to recruit and retain top notch Gen Xers who want to balance their desire for a great career with their home life. 

If the Shoe Fits…Job Motivation for Gen X

Gen X knows what they want and they don’t waste time on things that aren’t a good fit. Case in point, Gen X will leave a job that isn’t a good cultural fit within a year or two. And you shouldn’t waste time on employees that aren’t going to work out for your business either. Let’s face it, hiring is expensive and time-consuming! So while skills and references are great, work culture and personality are just as, if not more, important. In fact, 43% of Gen X say that cultural fit is very important when considering a new job.  With Workzinga, you can find job seekers that not only match the skills you need, but also have a personality that fits in with your office culture. This ensures that you find a better fit and that your new hire will stick around longer! So go ahead, Cinderella, try on that shoe!