CIO Symmetry

Nov 4 2011   1:57PM GMT

Are you in danger of losing your Gen Xers?

Wendy Schuchart Wendy Schuchart Profile: Wendy Schuchart

We have been exploring how CIOs need to approach millennials in the workplace — especially how members of that generation interact with technology. Indeed, millennials get the credit for cutting their teeth on the Internet, despite the fact that many of the Web’s revolutionary aspects were created by Generation X techies. The guys behind Google? That’s the MTV generation, right there.

With all of this attention on Generation Y, the generation before it is getting overlooked. According to the Deloitte Talent Edge 2020 survey, released earlier this year, Gen Xers are by far the most likely to be dissatisfied with their current employment situation, and only 28% of survey respondents planned to stay with their current employers. That’s a potential talent exodus that CIOs can’t afford to ignore.

While Generation X has been branded as slackers, more than 40% of Gen Xers work more than 50 hours per week, a stark contrast to the feelings of the workforce under the age of 30. What’s driving that career angst?

Given that the very same Deloitte survey cites “promotion/job advancement” as a primary retention incentive for 64% of Generation X respondents, could it be that they are frustrated by the so-called grey ceiling? Many baby boomers are putting off their retirement, perhaps in part due to anemic retirement funds hit hard by the double dip recession. Whether CIOs intend for them to believe that or not, Gen Xers may have determined that the only way up is out.

“Gen Xers don’t expect anything; they don’t expect loyalty, they don’t expect special treatment. They expect to be given a deliverable and be told what to do and to get things done — and if their services are no longer needed, they’ll move on. It’s very Lone Ranger, silver-bullet kind of thing.” said Jessie Newburn, president of Stellium Communications.

So what’s the answer? Make sure that in your careful attention to the millennials, you haven’t neglected the silent generation. Give your 30- to 45-year-old workers proof that there are opportunities for advancement within your organization — and then make sure to follow through on your promises.

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