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Gen X: All Grown Up and Ready to Spread Their Wings

Nearly 3 years ago, I wrote about Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980) butting up against a Gray Ceiling,
an artificial gate standing in between today’s job and a promotion. 
That article of course occurred in the depths of the recession and many
employers could care less. If a 30-something was unhappy, employers
said, “don’t let the door hit your backside on the way out.”

For companies that are thinking long term, that nonchalant attitude about succession planning is coming back to bite employers.

According
to new findings from consulting firm Deloitte, only 28% of Gen Xers
plan to stay in their current jobs. That’s serious stuff because bosses
who aren’t focused on how to keep Gen Xers happy will inevitably find
that somebody else is. The risk of losing these experienced 30 to 45
year olds is huge. Hiring is picking up and eventually the aging boomer
will retire.  When the coach turns to his bench for replacement workers,
it might be empty.  

Gen Xers aren’t the only workers looking
for greener pastures.  Thirty-five percent of Baby Boomers expect to
remain in their jobs, around the same as Millennials (age 31 and under),
at 37%.

The point of the survey was to give some guidance to
employers who care about retaining valued workers. The top advice bullet
point: Lay out a clear career path for workers. Across generations, 57%
of employees think their bosses do a poor job at presenting a ladder
for career advancement and offering job challenges.  That’s exactly the
same percentage of business executives in 2009 who said their leadership pipeline was the same or weaker than it was two years prior. 

Retaining
these ready-for-prime-time workers won’t be easy either – at least not
with the same tactics employed to keep Baby Boomers hanging around for a
few more years.  According to the survey, half the boomers rated a
promotion as the most effective way to get them to stay put. But that’s a
catch-22.  By promoting the Baby Boomers, the Gray Ceiling is only
fortified, prompting Gen Xers to look even harder for new opportunities.
Forty-three percent of Boomers could be kept happy with a little
support and appreciation from their supervisors. 

But to
complicate retention efforts, neither members of Generation X or
Millennials rated appreciation by higher-ups as top reasons to stay in a
job. When it comes to ranking the top turnover triggers, surveyed Baby
Boomers rated “lack of trust in leadership” at the top of their list at
32%, while both Generation X and Millennial employees placed “lack of
career progress” first at 38% and 30% respectively.
The findings also
revealed that surveyed men rate “lack of compensation increases” at the
top of their top turnover trigger list at 27% (compared to 14% of
women), while women placed  excessive workload” first at 31% (compared
to 15% of men).

This survey once again confirms how little effort
companies have committed to building a talent pipeline and succession
plan. Only 6% of employees surveyed rate their companies’overall HR and
talent efforts as “world-class,” while more than four in ten (43%)
called them “fair” or “poor.” Not surprisingly, employees who describe
their companies’ talent programs as “world-class” or “very good” are
nearly twice (42% to 23%) as committed to remaining at their jobs than
employees who work at companies with “fair” or “poor” talent efforts.

View the Deloitte survey results Talent Edge 2020.

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