NextMapping Future of Work Blog

Cheryl Cran

Welcome to the Future of Work blog – this is where you will find posts on all things related to the future of work.

We have guest bloggers that include CIO’s, Behavioral Scientists, CEO’s, Data Scientists including posts by our founder Cheryl Cran.

See all blog posts

Gen X and Zoomers Are Having Life Transformations- 3 Ways This is Changing the Workplace

December 22, 2011

Today, I met with a previous client of mine who is a Gen X, this lady is dynamic, energetic and focused professional. She had hired me way back in 2004 to work with her team on understanding personality dynamics when dealing with team mates and customers. We became friends and we were connecting regularly and then as life happens we gradually lost touch with each other. I was speaking at the BC Health Leaders Association and lo and behold she was there, we reconnected and met up to catch up. In six years much has changed for her and for me but what struck me the most was how our ‘life’ transformations had shaped our work choices.

In six years K’s life included a life transformation called divorce, her mother passed away and just as the family was adjusting to that loss- her father passed away. To say that these life events created major shifts in the way K thought about life in general but also her work would be a huge understatement.

K as a true Gen Xer looked at her past work style which was to go really hard, get the work done, and constantly be ‘on’ and due to her life events decided that although she loved her work, she needed to shift how she did her work.

So K left her high paying and high profile job and after working for a while in a different field she started her own consulting practice. Today K has a thriving business and she works it on her terms. She decides how many clients, when AND she commits to traveling and personal time off for 6 months of the year.

I then shared with K my life transformations since we had last spoken and I shared that my father in law passed away in December 2008 leaving my mother in law who was fully dependent in my husbands and my care. It was very difficult for my mother in law to cope with the loss of her husband of over 60 years and she became very ill and this past June she passed away. My husband and I transformed our living arrangements by moving from the suburbs to the city and our daughter moved out of the home.

These life events have added an increased awareness to the fragility of life and to focus on having meaningful experiences. How these events shifted me is that I find I am not working late hours at night anymore, I am not over promising to my clients so that I have to work all weekend and for the first time ever this past summer I was on a vacation without checking email or phone messages! I am sure many of you reading this are thinking of your own life transformations.

Here are 3 ways that the life transformations of Gen X and Zoomers Are Changing the Workplace:

1. More and more Gen X and Zoomers are dealing with aging parents, teenagers and divorce and these life events are causing them to want to work more from home, take more time off and have time to grieve and deal.

2. Workplaces are losing highly talented Gen X and Zoomers to self employment or contract work and in a time where the focus is on retaining talent companies need to look at how to keep Gen X and Zoomers by offering them sabbaticals, project work or extended leave.

3. Gen X and Zoomers are asking themselves, “How much money is enough money?” and making decisions based on quality of lifestyle versus making more money to accumulate more stuff. This means the workplaces need to be looking at compensating their top talent well for contract or project work and also keeping a ‘revolving’ door offer to renew those contracts.

My conversation with K was inspiring because she made big life decisions based on big life events and in the end she says she is at peace, happy in her relationship and looks forward to her time off as much as she looks forward to helping her clients. It also reinforced the research and what I have been predicting for the past ten years, increased contract work, increased workers working for ‘lifestyle’ versus the company and workplaces having to adjust the way they keep their top talent.

Cheryl Cran, CSP is the author of “101 Ways to Make Generations X, Y & Zoomers Happy at Work” and is a leadership & generations expert. She has been interviewed by Forbes, Entrepreneur and Selling Power magazines and is a regular on the Fanny Kiefer TV Show.