Xers are in peak years for work-related anxiety

Posted On June 3, 2019

Generation X is in its peak earning years, but it’s also in its peak years for work-related stress.

MarketWatch.com recently shared findings that probably aren’t that surprising: Gen-Xers are significantly more stressed in their jobs than other generations.

Fifty-four percent of Gen-Xers surveyed in a recent LinkedIn Learning study said they were stressed with their work situations, compared to 46 percent of millennials and 48 percent of Baby Boomers. Only about two-thirds of Gen-Xers who responded to a MetLife study reported being happy at work, compared to 75 percent of millennials and 74 percent of Baby Boomers. And another survey by recruitment firm Robert Half found twice as many Gen-Xers as millennials (16 percent compared to 8) who said they were unhappy at work.

The MetLife study also found that significantly fewer Gen-Xers felt they were being given timely promotions, access to senior leadership, or recognition for meaningful work projects than their millennial counterparts.

What’s the source of all this stress and discontent? MarketWatch points to several factors, including Generation X’s middle child syndrome — squeezed between two larger generations that have gotten more of the attention – and a lack of the innate comfort level most millennials have with the technology that’s driving the modern workplace.

But some of it comes simply from being where we Gen-Xers are in life. Many of us are starting to realize we’ve risen as high as we’re going to go in our careers and that realization alone is stressful and disconcerting. We have life concerns outside of work that add to the stress, including raising kids and paying for them to go to college, helping our parents in their golden years, and fretting over our meager retirement portfolios, and our jobs aren’t always accommodating to those concerns.

Job security is an issue for many as well, as layoffs in many industries are a fact of life and often largely target Gen-Xers who have risen to a point where they’re among the top earners in the company but aren’t the ones deciding who gets let go.

As one friend who left a 23-year career to start over in his mid-40s put it: “If you’ve had three layoffs in as many years and you look around and you’re one of the oldest guys still in the room, you start thinking it might be time to find something else.”

It’s a stressful time of life in general, what with mid-life crises and all, and that stress is amplified at work. The uncertainty of what lies ahead, personally and professionally, can be daunting. Focusing on all we haven’t done, unrealized dreams and unmet goals, can be depressing.

But take a breath and allow yourself the satisfaction of appreciating how far you’ve come and what you’ve accomplished. It’s not nothing. The future is guaranteed for no one, no matter the generation. You’ve made it this far. You can and will go further.

Then get back on the horse and keep plugging.

Categories: Blog, Generation X, Work, Workplace