The Intergenerational Debate has been a popular topic lately. As Baby Boomers begin looking to retirement, it is more important than ever for managers, human resource professionals, and companies, regardless of their size or volume to understand working, recruiting, and retaining the current and future workforce. We know (or we should) that Millennials are the largest new and upcoming workforce demographic next to the aging Baby Boomer population. Gen X on the other hand, is much smaller mainly due to the popularity and widespread use of birth control, specifically “the pill” in the 1960′s, but what about those that fall squarely in the middle? You know, on the cusp?
Cuspers and Being Born on the Cusp
“Cuspers” is a term to define those that fall between generations. Cuspers,, regardless of where they fall are most commonly between Baby Boomers and Gen X or Gen X and Millennials, are those that exhibit traits of both the generations in which they fall in between.
- Baby Boomer to Gen X Cusper. Those that are born between born roughly 1954-1965. Notable cuspers include Barack Obama, Bill Gates, and Sarah Palin. They are commonly referred to as Generation Jones.
- Gen X to Millennial Cusper. Born between 1978-1988. They are commonly referred to as the MTV Generation, Gen XY, or Generation Doom (because of the video game not XY’s pessimistic outlook). Notable celebrities that fall into this cusper category include Brittany Spears and Lindsay Lohan.
The Creation of Generation Labels
The idea and use of creating generation labels and categorizing those around us has been a characteristic of human beings since the beginning of time. Fields of study like Anthropology, Sociology, and Psychology were created based on our human desire and need to understand others as well as ourselves. I understand and enjoy this process especially since my educational background is Anthropology and Business. Learning about your market demographic as well as your competitors is advertising and business 101. It’s also an important part of being a successful and effective Human Resource leader.
Instead of labeling one another, I encourage a different and unorthodox approach: human interaction, engagement, and good old fashioned conversations with your employees, friends, customers, peers, or whomever. Of course my impressions could be due to the fact that I’m a Gen XY and Cusper myself. At 32 years old, I’m essentially an in-between who is often mislabeled and misunderstood. Too old to be a Millennial, but too young to be an Xer, I barely remember iconic events like the Challenger Disaster. Cuspers like myself feel extremely comfortable being uncomfortable. Being in-between and feeling like an outsider to your own generation label among other things is normal.
What are your thoughts on generation labels? Is it a necessary evil or a way to make us feel special, different, or just plain uncomfortable?