What Managers Need To Know To Retain GenX Workers

office, worker, bored

Photo: Flickr/Rochelle Hartman

A new report from the centre for Work-Life Policy confirms that the so-called Generation X–those born between 1965 and 1978, now aged 33 to 46–is the first generation in modern times not to reach their parents’ standard of living. It also offers some insights for employers looking to retain GenX workers, who, while relatively small in number, are becoming increasingly important as potential leaders and executives.Some of the Gen X-related statistics uncovered by the report:

  • Gen X is the first generation where women’s career ambitions are equal to those of men. Some 75 per cent of GenX women and 72 per cent of GenX men consider themselves ambitious.
  • Gen X men are 36 per cent more likely than Baby Boomer men to be out-earned by their spouses.
  • A surprising 43 per cent of Gen X women do not have children.  Maybe it’s because a third of high-earning Gen Xers say they work 60 or more hours per week.

Baby Boomers Hang On

The report notes that Gen Xers could be called the “wrong place, wrong time” generation. They left college with more than four times the debt that Baby Boomers did, on average, and often graduated into a lousy job market. They’ve already had to endure multiple boom and bust cycles, and many bought their first houses just in time to be hit by the real estate crash.

These macroeconomic events have affected everyone, of course, but they’ve hit Gen Xers the hardest because Baby Boomers are not retiring in the numbers expected. Instead, Baby Boomers are staying on the job an average of nine years longer than expected, making it tougher for Gen Xers to get promoted. The result?

  • Widespread career dissatisfaction. Some 41 per cent of Gen Xers say they are unsatisfied with their current rate of advancement and 49 per cent say they feel stalled in their careers.
  • Debt is still determining many career choices. Some 43 per cent say the ability to pay off student loans is an important factor in their career choices, and some 74 per cent say the same about credit card debt.
  • Dual-earning couples are the norm. Some 91 per cent of Gen X women say they are part of a two-income couple, while 68 per cent of Gen X men say the same.

The study also takes note of the possibility that Gen Xers that are stalled in their careers will become disengaged and apathetic. It notes that most would prefer more flexibility in their work schedules to any other perk. What’s the most important perk your company could offer to you? And do they?

This post originally appeared at BNET.

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