The ‘X’ factor

Superb article on “How to Retain Your Gen-X Workforce”. Made me feel better about how I question absolutely everything and I can’t figure out why looking forward “only” a month is about as visionary as I can get.

I think I have more of the previous generation’s “I must work until I die” resignation, although the next generation’s “There’s got to be a better way” mantra resounds very well with me. I think a lot of us look at work more as a punishment for something we did bad in a past life, than as something that gives us the means to enjoy what little time we spend away from it.

For those of us in creative fields, it’s hard to shut it off and enjoy an evening/weekend either because creativity doesn’t come during the 9-to-5 shift of generations past or because there’s just so much to do that the to-do list never ends. Technology helps us to get more done in a day than our predecessors got done in a week or even a month, but it also follows us everywhere.

There’s literally no reason you can’t/shouldn’t be productive every minute of every day. And that’s bad for the creative cycle — not necessarily the pressure to perform, as many of us thrive on deadline, but that we can’t constantly keep churning it out without finding ways to replenish it.

I’m not complaining — I love my work and my team and all the cool stuff I have the opportunity to do. But where I get stuck is in all the time wasted on depending on other people, because there goes 40 hours right there. But to do the awesome resume-building stuff that would make my portfolio absolutely kick ass? Lord, there isn’t enough coffee to keep me awake for them, and I find that those tasks I (would) love most tend to get the least of my attention.

Some people are meant to manage. The rest of us are meant to soar above all the b.s. And that’s what keeps us always on the lookout for the next opportunity. And it’s why people go to work for themselves, although granted it’s a myth that you’ll ever be free of the crap work even when you’re the boss. But the dream of doing more of what you want is what keeps folks dreaming of it, and doing it if they can.

I just wish those of us with that more immediate-goal-focused mentality could blow those boomers out of the last century and see what would happen if we ruled the world. Ties are better used on bedposts, damn it!!!

Anyway, I lifted this from the article:

Myth: They don’t want to put in the hours to get ahead.

Reality: They are willing to put in the time to do the job, however they are uninterested in “face time.” Gen Xers and Millenials view time as a currency. While Baby Boomers tend to see time as something to invest, the younger generations view it as a valuable currency not to be wasted. These are the generations that demand work-life balance and paid time off. They want to get the job done, then put it behind them and enjoy life.

Myth: They don’t want to grow up.

Reality: They really don’t know how. The youngest generations in today’s workforce are facing a delayed adulthood. They are getting married later, having children later and just generally facing the “real world” later. This isn’t the result of a mutated maturity gene, it just is. And if we are being completely honest, Boomers had a lot to do with why it’s happening. First, as parents, Boomers had a tendency to coddle their children and use their own good fortune to make sure their children didn’t experience adversity. Second, as career models, Boomers demonstrated the toll of working long hours and “paying one’s dues” in a way that made their children less likely to follow in their footsteps. Millenials today look at the corporate ladder and think, “there must be another way.”

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