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10 reasons Gen Xers are unhappy at work

I've yet to work in an organization where you could actually field an entire company softball team with all the Gen Xers on staff. At best, we could field a team of 5 players, with no one covering 3rd base, left field and catcher.

As Boomers start retiring, employers shouldn't count on Gen Xers to enthuastically step up to the plate. We may be able to take on leadership roles but are we willing?

Courtesy of Tamara Erickson and Business Week, the 10 reasons why Gen Xers are unhappy at work:

1. X'ers' corporate careers got off to a slow start and many are still feeling the pain. You graduated when the economy was slow and the huge bulge of Boomers had already grabbed most of the key jobs.

2. When you were teens, X'ers witnessed adults in your lives being laid off from large corporations, as re-engineering swept through the business lexicon. This engendered in most X'ers a lack of trust in large institutions and a strong desire for a life filled with back-up plans, just in case.

3. Most corporate career paths "narrow" at the top —the perceived range of options diminishes as individuals become increasingly specialized in specific functions or roles. X'ers crave options, which assuage your concerns about being backed into a corner, laid off from one path. The sense of narrowing career paths and increased vulnerability is often most palpable at the transition from middle to upper management—just where many of you are today. This step also often brings demands for relocation and separation from established social networks—an additional assault on your sense of self-reliance.

4. Just your luck—the economy was slow when you entered the workforce and now its slowing once again—just as you are standing at the threshold of senior management. Stepping into leadership roles right now looks more difficult and the roles themselves, more vulnerable than they have at any point in the past decade.

5. And then there are those pesky Gen Y's. Many X'ers are charged with "managing" Y's which—let's face it—is an impossible task, at least if you define "manage" as controlling their channels of communication. While vying for promotions and trying to look good, many of you feel that Y's are doing an end run around.

6. X'ers are, in fact, surrounded by a love fest—and not feeling the love. As I wrote in last week's post, Boomers and Y's are learning from each other—and enjoying their interactions. It's easy to feel left out.

7. X'ers are the most conservative cohort in today's workforce—and you're surrounded by "shake ‘em up" types on both sides. In your personal lives, X'ers are not particularly keen on rules, but you had to follow them in the workplace—and you resent it when others now don't. It seems unfair to be rewriting corporate etiquette when you've had to toe the line for so long.

8. Many X'ers' are guarding a closely held secret: you're not all as comfortable with the technology that is changing the way things are done as everyone seems to think you are. While it's perfectly acceptable for Boomers to feign ignorance and ask for help, it's embarrassing for X'ers to do so.

9. And if Boomer colleagues are annoying, the Boomer parents of your Y reports are down-right over-the-top. X'ers can't believe the frequency of Y-parent interactions and are deeply turned off by parents who make their presence felt in the workplace.

10. Finally, your own parenting pressures are at a peak. You're deeply committed to spending more time with your kids than your parents did or were able to spend with you, but juggling is getting more and more difficult.

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