In the News
10 Reasons Gen Xers are Unhappy at Work
“Slackers” face challenges at the threshold of corporate upper management
When I – a bona fide Gen X’er, at the heart of my generation – first set foot in the “real” working world in 1995, I immediately started to plot my escape. The Boomers just didn’t understand the way we wanted to work – the flexibility we craved, how to redeem our trust after we’d witnessed our parents being mistreated and laid off in droves, and the fact that we weren’t at all motivated by money, stock options, or gold watches. We wanted time, flexibility, and balance. But rather than put much effort into meeting our needs, the middle management Boomers dubbed us “slackers,” the “Me Generation,” and stared in bewilderment as we abandoned our cubicles and kicked off the dot-com boom – working our asses off, yes, but the way we saw fit.
We were at a crossroads then – leaving the Boomers to wonder how to manage and motivate the remaining members of this much smaller cohort who would eventually succeed them. And now those of us who haven’t left corporate America in the dust for our own entrepreneurial pastures (God willing, I will never understand why), and are standing at the threshold to upper management, are the ones who are bewildered. How are we at this place again? Trying to get these tech-backwards knuckleheads to understand the way we do business? To not overlook us in favor of their children – the Millennials – who have just entered the workforce? They know how to talk to them; it’s their offspring after all, and those kids – if they haven’t eschewed corporate life in favor of a budding bartending/acting career as a flagrant rebellion of their parents’ Yuppie values – want to please the folks who let daycares and the Internet raise them while the ‘rents elbowed their way to the latest Mercedes model.
X’ers are The Sandwich Generation of corporate life – trapped between those who graced us with padded suits in the 80s and those who will run companies as avatars by the time we reach mid-century. The result is a very unhappy lot of workers in their 30s and early 40s, creating a conundrum for the next wave of upper management. In a post for Harvard Business Online, Tammy Erickson explores the “10 Reasons Gen X’ers are Unhappy at Work”, and even throws out a call for us slackers to tell her about our “experiences, frustrations, and success” (she’ll use them in a book she’s writing on career options and strategies for X’ers). It’s hard to believe we’re still the odd man out after two decades in the workforce. But it’s good to know someone is paying attention – and believes that corporations truly need us. Erickson asks, “Is it time to jump off the corporate train?” Personally, I think the view from alongside the tracks is way better. But if you’re still riding the rails, Tammy Erickson hopes you’ll stay, has your back, and needs your two cents.