do you have x appeal?

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The Independent Culture
Jay Conger, from the University of Southern California, identifies four key character traits of generation Xers that have implications for the modern workplace. They seek a real balance between work and private life; they are deeply independent; they are the first Information Age generation and they want workplaces that feel like communities.

The Quest for Camelot: Work/Life Balance

Conger claims this is rooted in the fact that many Generation Xers are the children of families where both parents worked. Though they benefited from the extra income that resulted from this, many appear not to want the sort of lives their parents led, at least in part because they felt deprived of their parents' company and - in many cases - were badly affected by divorce.

Master of My Destiny

Generation Xers are far less willing than previous generations to be identified with a single organisation. At a time when many companies are choosing to make people redundant, they are unfazed: they never wanted a job for life anyway. "Work is more than ever before a transaction," writes Conger.

The Computer is My Friend

Facility with computers will, says Conger, give Gen Xers "both greater career portability and some measure of power". Their computer literacy actually gives them a hold over much more senior people in their organisations. Older generations should not fight this, but try to harness the knowledge, he adds.

Home, Home on the Campus

Many of the leading-edge companies of recent years - Microsoft, Nike and Sun Microsystems, for example, are distinguished by what Conger calls a "campus culture". Essentially, he adds, "their architecture and company services are designed to blur the distinction between the woirkplace, a college campus and a hometown community". hence the company outings, the open-all-hours cafeterias, the fitness centres, the refrigerators and sofas dotted about offices. Though older managers might baulk at the mess, Conger claims that the advantage in letting it be is that it mirrors university life in that students often work long hours without noticing.

Roger Trapp