New research from MetLife reveals that Gen Xers are less happy, empowered, and respected at work compared with Boomers and Millennials.
Worse, we’re not given timely promotions, provided too little exposure to senior leadership, and our work often lacks meaning. My take?
Here are some of the key findings:
- Only about two in three Gen Xers of report being happy at work, compared with 74% of Boomers and 75% of Millennials.
- Gen Xers feel engaged at work 64% of the time; Boomers are at 71%.
- Just 62% of Gen X employees feel respected in the workplace.
- Slightly more than half of Gen X workers (54%) feel empowered to do their jobs.
Sounds depressing. But there’s more to this story.
One generation to rule them all
The Global Leadership Forecast 2018 report reveals that Gen X accounts for 51 percent of leadership roles globally as of last year. With an average of 20 years of workplace experience, we’re on the cusp of assuming nearly all top executive roles.
So what’s the disconnect?
Well, blame the Boomers. Due to being tech-challenged themselves, they think they have to focus more on developing the digitally-native Millennials to foster innovation. Plus, there’s a whole bunch of those Millennials, and they’re loud:
“Due to the sheer volume of millennials in the workplace and their strong opinions about how it should be, companies are adjusting their policies to meet millennials’ needs,” says Foram Sheth, co-founder and certified coach at Ama La Vida.
Research shows, however, that Gen Xers are just as savvy as Millennials when it comes to digital technology.
And unlike most of the self-promotional younger generation, we also have a mastery of more conventional leadership skills that remain crucial for organizations to thrive.
So what’s the solution?
Get this … despite the lack of respect (and promotions) for a decent chunk of Gen X employees, we do most of the work, and are more loyal than Millennials.
Demonstrating loyalty, a willingness to take on a heavy workload, and a powerful combination of digital and traditional leadership skills, Gen X is producing highly capable leaders that are in danger of being overlooked.
If you’re expecting things to change in our favor, well … it’s possible. But this is no time to shed our cherished cynicism, given that employers don’t seem to think there's a problem.
Same as it ever was
We’re probably going to have to do it for ourselves. Surprise!
Never forget that those who do most of the work, combined with having the most well-rounded skill set, are practically indispensable (whether appreciated or not). And that means you should rely on leverage more than loyalty.
Sure, you could get another job where you’re more valued (maybe). A longer-term solution, though, is to take your skill set and use it as the foundation of your own personal enterprise, starting with freelancing or consulting for your old boss.
Let's say you merely break even. At least you'll have what Gen Xers crave most — autonomy. Funny thing is, at this point you realize that part of your job is to get more (and better) clients than the boss you left behind.
Either way, your clueless overlords have so much less power than they think they do. Even better, if you can future-proof your income by taking control of your economic existence, you can then say:
No need to beat yourself up over it. But remember … this is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time.