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‘Forgotten’ Generation X Feels Unappreciated at Work

Tamara E. Holmes
‘Forgotten’ Generation X Feels Unappreciated at Work

If you’ve noticed your boss paying extra attention to your millennial or baby boomer co-workers, you may not be imagining it. In fact, a new study suggests that so much attention has been paid to those generations that Generation X workers feel unappreciated, and are in danger of being left behind.

Gen X workers range between the ages of 38-53 and make up about a third of the workforce in the United StatesLow engagement may also play a role in their finances, according to MetLife’s 17th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study . Yet, they are the most unhappy generation in the workplace, with only 68% of Gen X workers being happy with their jobs compared with 75% of millennials and 74% of baby boomers.

What’s behind the workplace blues? Part of their dissatisfaction has to do with their perceptions about the way they are treated, the study found. Only 54% of Gen X workers say they feel empowered in the workplace while just 62% say they feel respected. Likewise, Gen X workers were more likely than their millennial counterparts to say employers aren’t providing them with meaningful work projects, timely promotions and senior leadership opportunities.

Those feelings of underappreciation, whether real or perceived, may be hurting Gen X workers in other ways. Not only are they feeling less recognized at work, but they may be experiencing less financial satisfaction from their salaries than other generations. Only 59% of Gen X workers say they are confident in their finances compared to 67% of millennials and 65% of baby boomers.

When it comes to saving for retirement, 55% of Gen X workers say they are behind in their goals, compared to 49% of millennials. The belief that they won’t have enough money to retire may help explain why 18% of Gen X employees say they never plan to retire -- more than the 14% of millennials and 12% of boomers.

Despite their feelings of dissatisfaction, Gen X workers may be more pressured to keep their jobs than other generations. The study found that Gen X workers are less likely than other generations to have an emergency fund stocked with three months of salary, which could help tide them over if they experienced a job loss. Here’s the breakdown:

  • 53% of Gen X workers have three months of salary saved
  • 58% of millennials have three months of salary saved
  • 60% of baby boomers have three months of salary saved

"The combination of Gen X's financial stress with low engagement and the perceived lack of appreciation can have significant negative repercussions across the workplace," says Todd Katz, executive vice president, Group Benefits at MetLife, in a press release.

A lack of engagement in the workforce can also have negative repercussions at home if you’re not making enough money to take care of your day-to-day needs while saving for emergencies and retirement. If you’re feeling like there are few opportunities for advancement at work, consider looking into training opportunities that can help you to learn new skills that may be more valued. It may also be worth it to pay a professional to update your resume if you plan to look for an employer that might be a better fit.

While you take steps to make yourself more relevant in the workplace, continue to take advantage of retirement benefits such as a 401(k) match to ensure that you have as much saved up for your future as possible.