How to Retain Gen X Employees

How to Manage Employees

As author Stephanie Neal points out in a recent article for the Harvard Business Review, Generation X once was known as the "slacker generation." As Gen Xers have gotten older, however, they've proven that they aren't slackers at all; instead, many of them are hard workers, creative problem solvers and passionate leaders.

And yet, they can't seem to shake their negative stereotypes. "Their unambitious reputation may be holding them back in the workplace, as new data reveals Gen X to be the 'leapfrog' generation, overlooked for promotions at higher rates than their counterparts in other generations," Neal says.

Indeed, an analysis by the Harvard Business Review found that in the last five years, two-thirds of Gen X leaders (66 percent) have received only one promotion, or no promotion at all. That's bad not only for Gen X employees, but also for their employers.

"As companies increasingly rely on Gen X without rewarding them with advancement, Gen X is beginning to get frustrated. Currently, only 58 percent of Gen X feels that they are advancing within their organization at an acceptable rate, as compared with 65 percent of Millennials," reports Neal, who says more and more Gen Xers are considering leaving their jobs. "As Millennial and Gen X leaders begin to compete for the same mid-level and even senior-level roles, companies risk losing many of their highest-performing leaders if they don't work harder to retain them."

If you want to keep your Gen X superstars, consider moving to data-based personnel decisions that give Gen Xers a fairer shot at promotions. "Many organizations make hiring and promotion decisions based on managers' gut feelings about whether the candidate is a good fit for the job, which introduces unconscious bias. For example, a manager may feel that a Millennial will be a better fit for a digital marketing manager job, without considering a Gen X leader," Neal says. "Assessments that measure leadership capability and potential can help organizations objectively spot people who have the right skills for the job rather than trusting managers' instincts alone."

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