Are you unhappy at work? BusinessWeek has had a few stories this year that talk about the generational divide that’s occurring in the workplace, and how this is affecting different generations of workers. Generation X is in a unique position right now because many workers are sandwiched between the baby boomers and Gen Y. Many boomers are still holding upper management positions while delaying retirement, and some new Gen Y people are getting hired into entry level positions. So, many Gen Xers are stuck right in the middle of two very different generations.
There was an interesting article and video on BusinessWeek that highlights some of the reasons that there are generational tensions, and also shows some responses from some Gen Xers and how they feel about their part in the workplace. The video mentions that it isn’t so much of a sense of differing values, but more of a difference in skills between the generations. I encourage you to watch the video, it’s only about 4 minutes long, but I also wanted to highlight some of the notable quotes from that page as well.
Some Interesting Quotes
I’m in my late 30s, and I would say that I and all my friends are disgruntled with Corporate America regardless of what industry you work in…I don’t feel loyalty to any company. You work hard and put in many hours only to get handed a pink slip.
I have nothing against Gen Yers or boomers but do feel stuck in the middle. I have an executive management team who are 8 to 12 years older than I am, with no plans for retirement in the near future. This leaves me stuck. I have been searching for business opportunities due to my distrust of Corporate America’s motives.
I can say that many of my Xer friends and acquaintances would rather make less in return for more flexibility with family and for the opportunity to make a difference for people.
We watched our parents remain loyal to a company/lifestyle/job only to be miserable at the end. Our strategy is to find a position that blends our family/work/life into a cohesive entity that satisfies the monetary bank account and our karmic bank account.
And finally, I just had to include this quote from a Gen Y guy, who obviously doesn’t think too kindly of Generation X. I’m closer to this guy’s age than older Gen Xers, but I don’t share his vies a bit.
A Gen-Y Guy said:
It’s really interesting to hear all you Gen Xers complain about Corporate America. That is probably why the Gen Y people hate working for you. If you’re not happy, go do something else, period.
How do You Feel?
For me personally, I have to admit that I don’t sense much tension, but that primarily comes from my work arrangement. I work remotely and primarily communicate with others within the company via email or phone, so I don’t have a lot of personal time spent with others within my company. In addition, the people I directly report to are Gen Xers, and we get along great and share a lot of similar values. Some of management is in the boomer generation, and there are a few Gen Y employees, but since I don’t work alongside them, I can’t say there has been any reaction one way or the other.
That said, there are a lot of comments above that I can relate with, especially in terms of finding a work-life balance and the loyalty issue with employers. I think this is a similar trait that is shared across this generation, but I could be wrong.
Now, this is where I ask you for your reaction. How do you feel you fit into your workplace? Do you struggle with coping with boomers on one end and Gen Y on the other, or do you find it easy to work together? Is there a certain aspect or trait of another generation that you can’t stand? Let’s hear what you have to say about this.
Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle
My name is Jeremy Vohwinkle, and I’ve spent a number of years working in the finance industry providing financial advice to regular investors and those participating in employer-sponsored retirement plans.