Audio Interview: Transwestern, Surveying GenX-ers, ‘Neglected Middle Child’ In The Workplace

Matthew Dolly, research director, Transwestern, is firmly in the middle of Generation X.Matthew Dolly, research director, Transwestern, is firmly in the middle of Generation X.

This story was originally reported for, and published by, GlobeSt.com, our content partner.

PARSIPPANY, NJ—(SBN)—Members of Generation X, those born from 1965 to 1980, “the neglected middle child” in offices that also contain Baby Boomers and Millennials, are more like their Boomer predecessors than the younger Millennials, a recent Transwestern report discovered.

The development, real estate investment management and research firm explored the generational preferences of office employees in a recent survey of its own workers organized by New Jersey research director Matthew Dolly.

“I came up with the idea last summer,” Dolly tells GlobeSt.com exclusively. “You’re always reading about Millennials, you have the Baby Boomers, who for the most part built up the office market. But you never read about Gen X, because they were a smaller generation and they were only the largest part of the workforce for a few years.”

Gen Xers are between 35 and 50, and in the next 20 years will be 55-70, Dolly says.

“We’re going to be the executives, we’re going to make the decisions, so right now we have to work with the Baby Boomers and with the Millennials, their children behind them,” he says, noting that he falls squarely in the middle of the Gen X demographic.

The research and commentary, titled “The Gen X Factor: Stuck in the Middle or Best of Both Worlds?” compares the responses of 273 Transwestern team members classified as Baby Boomers (born 1946 – 1964), Gen Xers (born 1965 – 1980) and Millennials (born 1980 – 1998).

Many developers have skipped from what Baby Boomers wanted and expected in office arrangements directly to what Millennials want, such as urban live-work-play locations, Dolly says. But Gen Xers enjoy a mix of office designs and locations, his research shows.

“They did like the option of a private workspace and abundant light, not as many used mass transit as the millennials, but Gen Xers and Baby Boomers prefer the suburbs,” he says. Gen Xers like flexible work hours with some structure, he adds.

In nearly all cases, the responses of Gen Xers fall somewhere between Baby Boomers and Millennials, highlighting the unique blend of views this generation possesses – a mix of seasoned experience and savvy thinking that was the fortuitous byproduct of being sandwiched between two large generations.

“Although Millennials are now the largest segment of the US labor force, companies that value workforce diversity benefit from a broader range of ideas and experiences,” says Dolly. “At the same time, while it is easy to create divisions between age groups, we found that there are just as many commonalities as differences between these three influential generations.”

You can hear a podcast of GlobeSt.com’s conversation with Matt Dolly in the player below.

Some of the survey’s findings include the following:

  • Flexibility is highly valued by all generations, with only 11 percent of total respondents favoring mandatory “9 to 5” hours in the workplace. Across all groups, flex hours – characterized by an alternative, yet defined schedule – is preferred over no set hours, with Generation X voicing the strongest preference for this type of flexibility.
  • All generations agree that there is a high correlation between work environment and productivity. When it comes to the amenities that contribute to a comfortable environment, privacy and abundant light ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, for every group of respondents.
  • Open offices, or “hoteling,” was viewed most favorably by Millennials, while private offices received the most votes from Baby Boomers. However, in total and by generation, respondents overwhelmingly prefer a mix of private and open office space.
  • The preference for downtown living more than tripled between Baby Boomers and Millennials, at 19 percent and 64 percent, respectively.
  • The importance of social media to professional life is inversely related to age: only 4 percent of Baby Boomers feel that social media is very important, compared to 7 percent of Gen Xers and 20 percent of Millennials.
  • Of the Generation X respondents, 56 percent reported that they identify more strongly with Baby Boomers, and 44 percent reported that they identify more strongly with Millennials. This gives Gen Xers, as a whole, a broad perspective of the wants and needs of today’s workforce.

“Because of their age and experience, Gen Xers are often a natural fit for leadership positions,” Dolly said. “This group is equipped to bring proven skills and thoughtful creativity that enables all generations to make valuable contributions and positions the organization to excel.”

About the Author

Steve Lubetkin
Award-winning news-style documentary videographer and audio reporter/podcaster.
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