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4 Ways to Retain Gen X'ers | HBR

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What can employers do to retain their talented Gen Xers? Here are four options:

  • Give Xers the chance to be in charge. CTI research found that nearly three-quarters of Gen Xers (70%) prefer to work independently. Among those who like being their own boss, over 80% say the reason is that they value having control over their work. Highly self-reliant, Xers are individual players who “work well in situations where conditions are not well defined, or are constantly changing,” according to a generational report from the Society of Human Resource Management. Placing Xers in charge of high-visibility projects is a way to spotlight their abilities.
  • Show them the route to the top. Mentoring and sponsorship programs that match mid-level managers with senior-level executives not only provides opportunities to enrich Xers’ career experience; such relationships help pave the path to top leadership positions.
  • Encourage entrepreneurial instincts. Following in the footsteps of generation-mates like Dell computer founder Michael Dell, chief Googlers Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and Sara Blakeley, who created the multimillion-dollar Spanx empire, nearly 39% of Gen X men and 28% of Gen X women aspire to be an entrepreneur. Why not let them test their wings with a company-sponsored venture than risk having them fly the coop?
  • Offer flexibility. Extreme jobs — characterized by workweeks of 60-plus hours, unpredictable workloads, tight deadlines, and 24/7 availability — are the norm for Gen X, with nearly a third (31%) of Xers making over $75,000 a year slogging through schedules that never stop. Flexible work arrangements, including reduced schedules, are checked off as “very important” for 66% of Gen X women and, significantly, 55% of Gen X men. Even childless employees yearn for better work-life balance to pursue their own interests.

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