Generation-X is the quiet and unassuming middle child of two loud and outspoken generations. Gen-Xers are sandwiched between the Baby Boomers and Millennials—two of the most talked about and overanalyzed generations. Each generation is slapped with a label, whether or not it’s warranted. Gen-Xers are the folks who were called the “MTV Generation” and derided as slackers, cynical, ironic and disaffected. They listened to grunge, punk and early hip hop music. They were the “baby bust” generation and the ignored little brothers and sisters to the baby boomers, who sucked all of the air out of the room. Gen-X comprised of latchkey kids and the children of two working parents. They were the first group to experience living with divorced parents. Gen-Xers bridged the gap between minimal technology and the beginning of the tech boom. They lived through the early days of the AIDS epidemic.
Gen-Xers are now in their early 40s to mid 50s and should be in the prime of their careers. However, according to the Harvard Business Review, this group is being overlooked once again. Gen-X leaders, according to a report cited by HBR, received only one or no promotions in the past five years, whereas Millennials and Baby Boomers received two or more promotions during the very same time period.
HBR infers that the slacker stereotype hoisted upon this group has had deleterious effects on the career mobility of Gen-Xers. Ironically, although being passed over for promotions, this generation shows a high degree of loyalty to its employers. The loyalty of a Gen-Xer may be misplaced, as the evidence shows that this generation has stalled out in the corporate world.
U.S. population trends are working against them. Due to longer life spans and insufficient retirement savings, many Baby Boomers are delaying retirement and clinging onto their jobs. Meanwhile, Millennials are looking to rapidly advance their careers. This pits both groups against the Gen-Xers. It’s hard to climb the corporate ladder when there is a Baby Boomer on the upper rung. To make matters worse, the Millennials are tugging at their legs, while they’re trying to make their speedy ascent.
Millennials are viewed as being overly vocal about attaining promotions or switching jobs when they are not promoted fast enough. Management is in a bind. If they don’t take care of this generation by offering promotions, more money and titles, they’ll leave. The Baby Boomers are stubbornly staying put. Therefore, Gen-X is caught in the crossfire between the two generations and often loses out to both—with respect to career growth. According to HBR, to add salt to injury, Gen-X employees “are bearing the brunt of the workload.” The Gen-Xers are being penalized for their corporate loyalty and tendency to not make waves.