Gen X and Y – Do they get along?
As a baby boomer, I would assume that an office full of employees from Gen X and Y would work together harmoniously.
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.
Lalitha Brahma says
Excellent article! Great revelation for a baby boomer parent!
One of my mantra’s about Gen Y is
They is the way they is because — we made them that way!
This is coming from a baby boomer parent!! 8^)
sam sneed says
Gen X, the early cusp ones, graduated high school before the complete dumbing down ocurred. In 1982 when I took my trig regents exam there was no paper no calculators you could take in, the next year, they handed them alll the equations. Memorization and actually learning it all was out. The socialists had taken over. A few years later things had gotten so bad they had to redesign the SAT to hide the huge dumbing down.
The GEN Y people, generally have no concept of hard work or suffering for work, they all want to be marketing invoeers and digital strategy brand segmentation strategists.
Let me comment on one phrase you used.
“Memorization and actually learning it all was out.”
When I was growing up we learned to memorize things. We did this because looking the information was difficult. It was important to memorize it. Gen Y was the first generation who grew up being able to look up anything at any time. They do not need to memorize things. They do need to know how to find the information when they need it.
Think about it — is memorization really needed for learning when you can always look things up when you need it?
jerry knowles says
Enjoying this series. One quesiton: how well does this apply to generations raised outside the U.S.A.?
I applies primarily to western cultures. There were similar issues all over Europe. One interesting perspective was Germany. So many males were killed or captured and held for extended periods by the Russians they did not have quite the baby boom after WWII. The baby boom in Germany did not start until 1955! Check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post%E2%80%93World_War_II_baby_boom#European_and_South-Pacific_trends
Maisha Guy says
Very interesting view point. Gen X and Gen Y like oil and water to some. I would like to also suggest it’s about environment, and the ability to relate.
I will continue to follow your series . Thank you for sharing.
Tree McCurdy says
Don’t forget– we Gen X’ers are the last Cold War Kids. The world was “US versus Them”. We grew up being told over and over, by the news, family debates, our teachers, and guest speakers in our schools, that we weren’t going to HAVE a future unless something radical changed.
Gen Y grew up assured that the United States is THE peerless Superpower and that the American “way of life” is the model of the world.
Strauss and Howe (who coined the term “Millennials” and wrote several popular books on generations) wrote that there are about 88.5 million Gen Xers in the U.S. today. They define Xers as those born between 1961 and 1981.
If you look at the U.S. Census it shows that there are indeed about 84 million people born between those years.
Howe also wrote that “defining Gen X purely by demographic bulges and busts misses key cultural indicators that a very different set of young people has come along. Commentators who set Millennial birth boundaries starting in the late-70s often make the same assumptions using fertility rates to define birth dates rather than shared beliefs, attitudes and values. Children born in the early 1960s and after had a very different coming of age experience than those born in the late 1950s. Some of the most influential cultural definers of Gen X were born during the period between 1961 and 1964.
Another factor affecting the relative size of generation X in the U.S. is immigration. It filled the gaps during the lower fertility years of the late 60s and early 70s.
I am a Gen X, and I get along great with Gen Ys! I don’t expect them to be like my generation or my parent’s generation. I think that every generation (hopefully) improves upon the one before. They may be different, but difference is interesting.
It depends on whether you are an early or late Gen Xer and whether your parental upbringing was an intact family. Almost half of Gen Xers grew up in single parent households.
As a gen-x-er I find it very difficult to work with gen-y. Not all but seems most of them do not want to work and become team p!ayers. They are entitled and lack communication. I’ve been in the workforce for a long time and working with the younger generation is a challenge. I still have a year’s left to work and doubt that it will get any better. I don’t want to be negative but in my youth the work environment was so much better than it is today.