Generation X encompasses the 44 to 50 million Americans born between 1965 and 1980. This generation marks the period of birth decline after the baby boom and is significantly smaller than previous and succeeding generations.
Members of Generation X are largely in their 30’s and early 40’s. On the whole, they are more ethnically diverse and better educated than the Baby Boomers. Over 60% of Generation X attended college.
Generation X legal professionals hold junior partner, senior associate, mid-level paralegal and mid-level support staff positions in law firms. They also hold middle-management positions in the government, corporate legal departments and other legal practice environments.
Below are a few common characteristics of Generation X.
Individualistic: Generation X came of age in an era of two-income families, rising divorce rates and a faltering economy. Women were joining the workforce in large numbers, spawning an age of “latch-key” children. As a result, Generation X is independent, resourceful and self-sufficient. In the workplace, Generation X values freedom and responsibility. Many in this generation display a casual disdain for authority and structured work hours. They dislike being micro-managed and embrace a hands-off management philosophy.
Technologically Adept: The Generation X mentality reflects a shift from a manufacturing economy to a service economy. The first generation to grow up with computers, technology is woven into their lives. As law firms and corporate legal departments integrate new technological tools, Generation X has learned and adapted. This generation is comfortable using PDAs, cellphones, e-mail, laptops, Blackberrys and other technology employed in the legal workplace.
Flexible: Many Gen Xers lived through tough economic times in the 1980s and saw their workaholic parents lose hard-earned positions. Thus, Generation X is less committed to one employer and more willing to change jobs to get ahead than previous generations. They adapt well to change and are tolerant of alternative lifestyles. Generation X is ambitious and eager to learn new skills but want to accomplish things on their own terms.
Value Work/Life Balance: Unlike previous generations, members of Generation X work to live rather than live to work. They appreciate fun in the workplace and espouse a work hard/play hard mentality. Generation X managers often incorporate humor and games into work activities.