On Tuesday, I listened to David Stillman’s presentation “Generations in the Workplace”, hosted by the Business Record and Merit Resources. I would write up an entire blog about it, but an acquaintance of mine, Isaiah McGee, beat me to it. His Iowa Biz column will explain more about the different generations in the workplace.
Several things stood out to me about the presentation. Right now is the first time in history that all four generations (Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials) are working together. With respects to all of the columns and talks about Millennials, as an Generation X-er, I have a few things I need to say.
As a generational group with the lowest population size (46 million), Gen Xers tend to be the group that isn’t talked about much in the business community anymore, sandwiched between the Boomers and the Millennials. My assertion before Stillman’s talk is that Generation X are the generational “middle-class”. We were the ones who were labeled “slackers”, the “latch-key” kids, the most skeptical, and in turn the most independent.
As someone who is between jobs and is a X-er, there is a strong feeling that Generation X is considered “washed up” in the workplace. That can be attributed to the number of Boomers and Millennials (80 million and 76 million respectively) who are in the workforce and is competing for jobs once the economy starts to improve. It’s not hard to see the changing culture in the workplace. Human Resources is filled with Millennials fresh out of college; Boomers are still in middle management, and Traditionalists are the CEOs. In larger and smaller companies, Gen Xers are being replaced by Millennials and for some, the chances to find another job is somewhat small.
Stillman pointed out that Gen Xers have hit the “gray ceiling”, meaning Gen Xers have the education and the experience, but they have no place to go in the workplace. The Boomers are not leaving the workplace anytime soon, and Gen Xers’ chances of moving up the ladder has been stunted.
Call me crazy, but I think Gen X is in a precarious spot as a generational group. However, there is a growing trend that has developed. As a generation of self-sufficient and independent individuals, Gen Xers created more start-up companies since 2002. Gen Xers are adaptive and have a zest in learning new things at work. We’re resourceful, and are not afraid to be skeptical and point out something that can be fixed.
And we’re still hire-able.