Gen X and Y – Do they get along?
WOW, is that a bad assumption!
Gen X and Y are cut from very different cloth.
Gen X (born 1965-1982) were the children of the Silent Generation (born 1925-1945). I was talking with a client yesterday who told me that her parents divorced in her early teens. She said when she was in middle school it was common to hear from her friends that their parents were divorcing.
Generation X were the first latchkey kids. Their parents divorced in record numbers. To a large extent, they raised themselves. Many went to work in their teens to help support themselves and their family.
The generational echo effect is that Gen X has the lowest divorce rates. This is primarily because they have waited to get married. I currently know quite a few Gen Xers who are 40 and getting married for the first time.
I spoke at a recruiting conference a few months ago, and I was talking about how Gen Xers wait to get married. A female Gen Xer offered up that she told her parents she was gay in order to get them off her back about getting married!!
When these kids left home, many had to put themselves through college.
They also entered the workforce starting in the mid-1980s—about the time that companies were discontinuing jobs for life. The concept of loyalty to a company was disappearing.
Gen Xers created the concept of “work-life balance.”
Let’s contrast this to Gen Y (born 1983-2000). They are the children of baby boomers. Until recently, baby boomers have had stable marriages. Gen Y grew up in relatively stable homes when compared to Gen X. As a baby boomer parent, we raised our child to build a college resume. We did not want him to work so that he could focus on his studies. Therefore, often their first work experience was in college—and that may have been an unpaid internship.
Gen Y entered the workforce when at the beginning of the worst recession since the great depression. Many stayed in college because they could not get a job. Therefore, this is rapidly becoming the most educated generation ever. It is also the most in debt generation ever due to student loans.
Gen Y grew up in an age of organized sports where everyone got a blue ribbon or trophy. Some will tell you they grew up entitled.
Gen Y has entered the workplace with a thud. We baby boomer parents encouraged our children to ask for what they want.
Gen Y will ask for the promotion or pay raise.
We wanted our children to study and not have to work.
Gen Y is entering the workforce with less experience as an employee than any other generation.
As Gen Y enters the workplace, they have either baby boomer or Gen X bosses. Over and over, I have seen the mix of a Gen X boss and Gen Y employee become toxic.
These Gen X and Y grew up in very different environments.
The challenge is both baby boomers and Gen X bosses look at Gen Y employees through their own lenses expecting them to be like them.
They are not!
When Gen Y employees enter the workforce, they need far more coaching to become employees than previous generations. They do not have work experience.
If Gen Y employees do not get the experience they want in the workplace, they will leave and go somewhere else. Why?
Because we raised them to ask for what they want!
Do Gen X and Y get along?
Not really. They do not mix well, just like oil and water!
What is your experience? I want to hear your Gen X and Y story!
Please read the rest of the Multi-Generational Workplace Series.