17 Reasons Why We Shouldn’t Forget About Gen X

Generation X, born between 1965 and 1980, often seems overshadowed by the more vocal Baby Boomers and Millennials. Due to shifting societal values, each generation is raised in a different cultural context and will have different views on various aspects of life. Gen X’s unique experiences have influenced the modern world—here are 17 reasons why we shouldn’t forget about them.

Economic Influence

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Generation X contributes significantly to the economy, making up thirty-one percent of the total U.S. income, despite only comprising twenty-five percent of the population. They outspend all other generations when it comes to housing, clothing, eating out, and entertainment, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Entrepreneurial Spirit

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“Gen X entrepreneurs disrupt traditional business models by introducing innovative approaches, challenging norms, and embracing unconventional strategies,” says PhuConcepts. They have founded fifty-five percent of today’s startups, showcasing their innovative and risk-taking nature. This was a step away from the Baby Boomer commitment to working for one company for the majority of their lives.

Consumer Power

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As mentioned before, Gen Xers outspend other generations in key areas such as housing, clothing, and entertainment, indicating their substantial influence on the market. Fifty-four percent feel ignored by brands, suggesting a missed opportunity for marketers to engage with this powerful demographic.

Workplace Impact

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Research from Dr. Mary Donohue, a generational expert and social scientist, shows that good workplace relationships between Gen Xers and Millennials can decrease employee turnover by 50% and increase productivity by 11%. Known for their independence and self-reliance, Gen Xers bring a strong work ethic to their professional endeavors.

Educational Attainment

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With thirty-five percent of Gen Xers holding college degrees, they are a well-educated cohort, often holding influential positions. They place a high value on continuous learning and skill development after college, contributing to their adaptability in the workforce. They led employer-based career development program creation as a way for companies to retain employees longer.

A Generation of DIYers

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Before they could just YouTube how to do almost everything, Gen X learned how to do it themselves. PureWow says, “If you belong to Generation X then it probably feels like it was just yesterday that you were learning how to plunge a toilet by trial and error while your mom was at work.” If you have anything broken in your home, it’s helpful to have an Xer around to pull out their tools and fix it.

Media Consumption Flexibility

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They still value traditional media, with significant percentages listening to the radio, reading newspapers, and watching traditional television. But they are also savvy social media users, though they’re more likely to use social media for contacting friends than for self-promotion. Gen X is just as happy with traditional media as they are with streaming and online news.

Cultural Icons

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Generation X has been defined by a range of cultural icons, from Kurt Cobain to Prince, influencing music, fashion, and more. From grunge music to independent films, Generation X has made significant cultural contributions that continue to influence society. They still cling to nostalgia for the 1980s and 1990s and will still belt out “Livin’ on a Prayer” whenever it plays.

Tech Transition

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They were the first to grow up with personal computers, bridging the gap between analog and digital, making them adaptable and tech-savvy. They were also the first to adopt cell phones, ending the age of pay phones and parents not knowing where their kids were.

Leadership Roles

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As Baby Boomers retire, Gen Xers are increasingly taking on leadership roles within organizations, shaping the future of many industries. A CNBC article explained that Gen Xers are adept at conventional leadership. It means they can handle people in formal and informal settings. They can easily slide from being a boss into a reliable friend. They possess top leadership skills, including strong communication skills.

Desire for Work-Life Balance

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The latch-key generation decided not to follow in their parents’ work-focused mindset. Gen Xers prioritize work-life balance, influencing workplace policies and culture toward more flexible work arrangements. They pushed for longer vacation time and personal days off. They also embraced the work-from-home lifestyle that many Boomers struggled to adapt to in 2020.

Financial Resilience

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Despite economic challenges, including the 2008 financial crisis, Gen Xers have shown resilience. They entered their peak earning years and earned even more with equities and pensions. Generation X pivoted during the COVID-19 pandemic to not hurt as much financially as other generations, with their wealth increasing by 50%. “In addition, as of June 2021, they’ve held 28.6% of the nation’s wealth, up 3.9% from the first quarter of 2020,” says Yahoo Finance.

Adaptability

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Their experiences during formative years, such as the rise of the internet and global events, have made them highly adaptable and capable of navigating change. Compared to Baby Boomers, Generation Xers tend to be less interested in traditional hierarchies and status symbols. They may also be more comfortable with change and ambiguity than those in the boomer generation and less likely to rely on established institutions and systems.

Diversity and Inclusion

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Generation X values diversity and inclusion, having grown up during significant social changes, and they bring this perspective to their workplaces and communities. Those in the U.S. were born into a recently desegregated country, and their mothers led the charge on women in the workplace. These monumental movements shaped their idea of diversity in the workplace and inclusion.

Parenting

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Generation X parents were the first to use helicopter parenting styles. Unlike their Boomer parents, who famously let their kids stay outside until the streetlights came on, Gen Xers tend to be far more involved with their children’s social and educational development.

Mentorship

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As they move into senior roles, Gen Xers are positioned to mentor younger generations, passing on their knowledge and experience. Younger generations, especially Millennials, feel comfortable with Gen X as mentors because they find them more relatable than their Boomer predecessors, as many older Millennials also grew up with the change in the tech world.

Legacy of Innovation

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Though they have a nihilist look at themselves that gave the rest of the world a lackluster vision of Gen Z, they are responsible for companies like Google and Amazon that have revolutionized industries and changed how we live and work. “Xers like Elon Musk (Tesla Motors, SpaceX and SolarCity) have created innovative startups whose explicit aim was to make the world a better place,” says Forbes.

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