Gen X, Gen Y, millennials : How well do you really know them?

Posted on 16/12/2016 by Danica Pagsisihan


The workplace has been disrupted with a declining number of baby boomers, rise in leadership of Gen X, growing number of Millennials, and the rise of the current minority, Gen Z. This article aims to focus on the majority contributors to the workplace which are the Gen X and Gen Ys/Millennials. These two generation groups have pushed most employers to create a diverse work environment that will cater to their different motivations and drivers.

Gen X

This generation is born in the mid 1960s to 1980.  Most of them joined the workplace at a time of great new opportunities. However they were also the victims of the dotcom boom and bust in the 1995-2001.  As much as they have relished the big bonuses, high salaries and plenty of job opportunities, they were mostly shaken due to the difficulty of the 2008 global financial crisis (GFC). This left the Gen X cautious about their future. Due to this, many lacked the confidence to make career changes as they would prefer stability than taking risks.  

This resulted in the Gen Xers feeling stagnant and eventually detached from their jobs.  Some Gen Xers have kept giving it their all in the work place and have moved up in the leadership ladder replacing the Baby Boomers, most of them are still caught in between the pressure to maintain stability and earning good money to put their families in good stature, looking after ageing parents and at the same time preparing for retirement.

Gen Y / Millennials

This group is born from the 1980s to the mid-1990s, and has brought a big increase of people in their 20s joining the workforce. This group benefited from the improvement of technology and yet have seen the struggle of the GFC through their parents (Baby Boomers and Gen Xers) and hence have been very wise in their expectations and goals based on what they’ve learned from the generations ahead of them.  Millennials aspire for flexibility; they don’t necessarily look for a traditional rewarding career in working for only one firm.  They are very curious and eager to see numerous worthwhile opportunities that will cater to their personal and professional sense of self fulfilment.

Because they grew up in convenience and independence due to the rise of modern technology, the Millennials embrace their individuality. They do not see their value via how the company sees their value as an employee, neither do they get easily influenced or dictated upon through career trends of their previous generations. They already think that they are a good potential today, what they want is a workplace that can offer them the track to put them at a good spring board to achieve swift career progression. 

What can employers do?

As you can imagine the definitions above can create diversity in the work place. For example you have a group of leaders who are talented, skilled and seasoned with experience but are cautious because of their own personal experiences (Gen Xers).  On the other hand you have a large group of people who are hungry for experience, ready to put themselves out there for exposure, career progression and success who then needs to look up to the Gen Xers to achieve personal and professional satisfaction.

Gen X

Employers need to be proactive in providing advise and guidance to the Gen Xers when it comes to their career decisions and provide benefits that can help them prepare for retirement. Employers can also help them manage and prepare for current and future health care costs can gain a competitive advantage. As per the 2013 Mercer Workplace Survey, 93% of the employees mentioned that getting health benefits from work is just as important as getting a salary. And, 86% said retirement is a major savings objective.

This will provide a motivation in them to being fully engaged with work.  This will then help them become more focused and dedicated to giving their all in the work place making them good role models for the Millenials.  Millennials who are hungry for leadership and growth can look upto motivated Gen Xers and learn.

Gen Y/Millennials

How do you attract Millennials as your Talent Pool?

Millennials are not only interested in their employer’s vision, but also their corporate social responsibility (CSR) and how it can make an impact in the industry, and the world in general. They want to be contributors for change.  They want employers who are modern and challenge the conventional ways of a traditional work place.  

In addition, according to the study of the Center for Generational Kinetics, Millennials want to feel like they are doing something for a greater cause and get valued for it, have confidence in the leadership and direction, enjoy and like the work that they do, envision a good progression in the workplace, and be treated as a person, not just a number...

I hope you found this article interesting and I would love to hear your thoughts on the Gen X Gen Y groups in general. Let's talk on +65 6589 8787 or email me on To keep up to date on the latest tech news and the hottest tech jobs register with us here.