EAP Corner

Bridging the Multi-generational Workforce (Part 4) Xennials – the Oldest of the Millenniums

This is part 4 of the compilation of articles regarding the different generations in our workforce and how to best relate with each generation. Since I covered the Grand Generation, the Baby Boomers, and Gen X’ers, our next generation was to be the Millenniums. As I was discussing the characteristics of the millenniums with a millennium colleague, she stated she wasn’t a millennium – she was a Xennial. Xennial? I hadn’t run across that labeling of any generation. She was quick to tell me that she didn’t fit the criteria for millenniums. She hadn’t been raised with computers and cellphones. She could and did step into technology as a high school student and young adult person. But she didn’t grow up with it and knew times without it.

Sarah Stankorb coined the label for the Xennials. This “micro-generation” of people, born between 1977 and 1985 on the cusp of the Gen Xer’s and the millennials, could be seen as the bridge between the generations. Gen Xer’s moved into adulthood without the digital world we now enjoy, and Millennials don’t know the world without it. Xennials fully remember life without smartphones but comfortably jumped into social media, snapchat and new methods of communication in their young adult years though they grew up without Facebook, Twitter or MySpace. (Stewart, 2018)

Millennials were the first generation to grow up with household computers and have internet access. (Lebowitz, 2018) Xennials grew up playing outside. Their first real portable electronic was GameBoy which hit the market when they were in middle school. This older population of millenniums used pagers in high school and college. They did not have “google” for easy research but used the library to find their research. (Slotkin, 2018) Many didn’t get cellphones until their 20’s. As kids they used landlines, which meant they often had to talk to their friends’ parents first. This was the first generation to get addicted to technology.

Stankorb saw Xennials as the lucky generation, missing out on some of the misfortunes that impacted the generations on both sides of it (e.g. the market crash during the Gen Xer’s time and the violent episodes that plagued generations after them). This generation grew up in a peaceful pre-9/11 America. (Stewart, 2018)  However, this generation was already in the workforce when the recession hit and research suggests that Xennials may have been impacted most by the recession because of student loan debt, job losses and other factors. (Lebowitz, 2018) Xennial parents were more relaxed than millennials’ helicopter parents (characterized this style as “achievement-obsessed, upper middle class parents who did everything they could to ensure their children’s comfortable excellence”). (Lebowitz, 2018)

The Xennials experienced organic relationships before smartphones. They can feel the lack of communication when something is off with too much screen time and staring at the phone when with others. They feel they are the last generation to truly understand human connection without too much reliance on technology; they use technology in balance to enhance their relationships and lives. They may be the perfect group of people to solve the current technology crisis as they can relate to the older generations’ concern about wasting their lives on technology but also have enough experience with technology to know its value as we address the current issues. In the workforce, you will find that Xennials have the idealism of millennials but the realism to get things done like the Gen Xer’s. When they have conviction, and when something matters to them, they deliver. They also can speak the language of Boomer and Gen X-er’s as well as the Millennial colleagues. This means they may be able to translate across the generations and find the common ground because they have can fit into each generation.

When addressing ways to approach Xennials and how to understand them, realize they are a bridge between these generations. They can speak the language of the generations on either side of them so they offer a skills set that may be in high demand as they can connect and translate for us as we move forward in this world of technology.

Works Cited
Lebowitz, S. (2018, Mar 10). https://www.businessinsider.com/xennials-born-betweenmillennials-and-gen-x-2017-11. Retrieved from business insider: businessinsider.com

Slotkin, A. (2018, Sept 17). https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbeslacouncil/2018/09/17/xennials-and-how-the-heck-theyll-save-usfrom-technology/#1c8e2f1e37db. Retrieved from Forbes.com: www.forbes.com

Stewart, J. (2018, February 21).www.mymodernmet.com/are-you-a-zennial/. Retrieved from mymodernmet.com:

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  • Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
    Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner

  • Janie Pfeifer Watson, LICSW, is the founder and director of Wholeness Healing Center, a mental health practice in Grand Island, Nebraska with remote sites in Broken Bow and Kearney. Her expertise encompasses a broad range of areas, including depression, anxiety, attachment and bonding, coaching, couples work, mindfulness, trauma, and grief. She views therapy as an opportunity to learn more about yourself as you step more into being your authentic self. From her perspective this is part of the spiritual journey; on this journey, she serves as a mirror for her clients as they get to know themselves—and, ultimately, to love themselves.


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