Gen X-ers worried about Boomers?


In addition to all the concerns over 50 Plussers who need to continue to work, according to some studies, the generation following the Boomers, the Gen X-ers, are finding it challenging to step into management roles due to Boomers holding onto their jobs longer. The studies also claim that there is a misperception that Gen X-ers don’t believe that they need to “pay their dues” in the same way that Boomers and the WWII generation seniors did.

I’ve been in the business world for about 30 years. I started off as a cashier, in Junior College, to make enough money anything my allowance didn’t cover…and to save up to move out at nineteen…for my last year of university (that, and travelling to Europe, was the thing to do in my neck of the woods.)

I worked through university and never stopped. I took the jobs that I could to give me sufficient experience to move up in a career path that I didn’t even see yet. It wasn’t about a 401K…I never had enough to make it from paycheck to paycheck, much less have a clue what a 401K was. When I made the leap into theater in my twenties, I worked 18 hour days for $150/week and didn’t bat an eye. That is just the way it was.

In my cumulative work experience, where I interview and hire many staff each year, I see Gen Y and Gen X’ers graduate from university or try to move up in the workforce with an absolute sense of entitlement. I’m not saying this to get anyone upset, but I see recent graduates with expectations of salaries of $50K. I see recent graduates unwilling to take positions for $35 or $40K. I have trouble staffing $12 and $14/hour positions and I find that startling.

Now perhaps it is symptomatic of Los Angeles, where everyone compares themselves to everyone else and nothing is ever good enough, but I’m troubled. How will it be possible for these 20, 30-something year olds (and yes, I know I’m lumping a bit of Gen Y into my X) to step into management positions if they are unwilling to struggle through learning how to manage? How can they get work experience if they aren’t willing to challenge their life experience?

If I have a Gen Plusser (50 plusser)in front of me who is willing to do what it takes to get the job done vs. a 20-something who is only interested in working for me as a stepping stone to the next salary jump, I’ll choose the Gen Plusser every time.

Unfortunately, in the current climate, most employers won’t and that is what is going to cost millions and millions in lost history and management strength for many, many companies. The 50 plus worker must be in place to mentor the younger workers coming up through the ranks…just as I learned to be great at what I do by learning from seasoned managers along the way…and just as I mentor those below me, even though I sometimes have to kick and push them to success.

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