A funny thing happened as the Baby Boomers retired and the Millennials surged into the workforce, Generation X, the forgotten generation once known as the latchkey kids, turned into an extremely valuable asset to your organization. Born between 1965 and 1980, they are the ones with most expertise and experience who still have a long-term stake in the success of your business. They are the ones with the most product and organizational knowledge; the people who will be training the Millennial, they are leaders of key projects, and they are on your executive team.
Losing high performing Generation Xers can put a big dent into strategic launches, in customer loyalty and ultimately the bottom line. And if they aren’t highly prized by your organization they will be by your competitors for their experience and expertise.
Overlooking their needs is a big mistake.
A very recent study  out of Great Britan identified key motivators for this critical employee demographic and provides a handful of strategies to help retain and enhance their engagement.
Earlier studies about this generation have offered similar strategies but what shifted, this time, was the order of importance. As some of us already know, things change as one ages, including what motivates you.
So what is motivating Generation X in the middle of their careers? Their personal bottom lines.
Compensation has moved up several steps to the number one spot for this group. Earlier in their careers compensation packages were lower down the list. But as Generation X is aging and taking on more personal responsibilities for aging parents, college-age children and their own retirement burden, compensation becomes a big driver in the decision-making process for staying or leaving.
The second motivator also provides a structure for increased compensation that won’t break the bank. Knowledge Sharing is in second place. Generation Xers have the experience and organizational history, and they are motivated in being asked to share it.
This finding is consistent with the rise of information sharingon social media (think TED talks, et.al.). Organizations should look for opportunities to engage these employees in ways that showcase their knowledge and expertise. There are several creative ways organizations are doing this depending on the individual's comfort level; some are using tools like Cerebyte.com to capture an individuals knowledge so that it can be shared with others while others are setting up structured mentorship activities with new employees or explicitly identifying an expert role in key projects. Some organizations are using participation in successful projects a rationale for incentive pay or bonuses.
Autonomy is still very important to Generation X. They appreciate the trust given to them to complete a task with minimal supervision. Giving the experienced staff freedom to shape and implement assignments without lots of approval steps is motivating to this cohort.
At the same time, that sharing their knowledge is important to this generation continuing to learn is also important. Opportunities to enhance existing skill sets or to add to a skill set are keenly desired. It is fairly commonplace now to provide scholarships for graduate level classes or paid executive seminars but beyond these standard bearers, think about projects outside of the department or even with a client that will allow the employee to both showcase something they already know while learning about another part of the business.
The last finding from the study is about the importance of working for an organization that treats people fairly. Building a culture of trust requires more transparency about how decisions that affect employees are made. Organizations that “walk the talk” of fairness, ethical dealings with staff and customers will find they are rewarded with more loyalty in turn.
Although, the list did not change significantly from previous studies about this generation, what did change was the order of importance. It is not surprising that as each generation matures compensation starts to rise on the list. But organizations don’t have to break the bank to retain this generation as long as they provide the other motivators in equal proportion.
 “An Empirical Study on Factors Affecting Organisational Commitment among Generation X” by C.S. Cheak (2016); Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences (209).