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Youngest Workers Expect New Working Conditions

April 1, 1995
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The youngest people now in the work force are those people born between 1965 and 1981 known collectively as "Generation X." As a group, they have definite expectations of the workplace. Do you know what they want? Are you prepared to respond?

Xers want to work somewhere unique, interesting and different. In part this means integrating employee beliefs about work, family, people and community into a shared vision that guides the company. Employees who see their aspirations in the company vision because they have the opportunity to put them there are more likely to give their best. And commitment to a shared vision is less likely to result in missed market opportunities.

Xers want work that's exciting and entertaining. This means designing work systems that leverage the thinking of all employees and offering projects that last weeks or months rather than years. Exciting work invites creative responses to market conditions.

This group wants to add to their skills, especially technology skills. This means companies must commit to lifelong learning through extensive classroom and experiential education. Employees gain greater expertise and control over their careers which they reinvest in the company.

The Xers also postpone commitments to ensure they keep their options open. Job sharing, flextime, sabbaticals and volunteer opportunities meet this need yet invite employee gratitude leading to greater productivity.

Xers want supervisors who show interest in their work and who regularly let them know how they're doing. Programs such as gainsharing, open-book management and self-managed teams connect individual behavior to company performance in ways that satisfy and motivate. This approach invites employees to add value to each other's work.

This generation wants a balanced lifestyle. Work-family programs entice the two out of three in this workgroup who say their personal lives are more important than their careers.

And finally, Xers say the work environment is more important than salary. Healthy, safe, fun and challenging work situations are key motivators.

Personnel Journal, April 1995, Vol. 74, No. 4, p. 76.

Recent Articles by David C. Calabria

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