Nearly 3 years ago, I wrote about Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980) butting up against a Gray Ceiling, an artificial gate standing in between today’s job and a promotion. That article of course occurred in the depths of the recession and many employers could care less. If a 30-something was unhappy, employers said, “don’t let the door hit your backside on the way out.”
For companies that are thinking long term, that nonchalant attitude about succession planning is coming back to bite employers.
According to new findings from consulting firm Deloitte, only 28% of Gen Xers plan to stay in their current jobs. That’s serious stuff because bosses who aren't focused on how to keep Gen Xers happy will inevitably find that somebody else is. The risk of losing these experienced 30 to 45 year olds is huge. Hiring is picking up and eventually the aging boomer will retire. When the coach turns to his bench for replacement workers, it might be empty.
Gen Xers aren’t the only workers looking for greener pastures. Thirty-five percent of Baby Boomers expect to remain in their jobs, around the same as Millennials (age 31 and under), at 37%.
The point of the survey was to give some guidance to employers who care about retaining valued workers. The top advice bullet point: Lay out a clear career path for workers. Across generations, 57% of employees think their bosses do a poor job at presenting a ladder for career advancement and offering job challenges. That’s exactly the same percentage of business executives in 2009 who said their leadership pipeline was the same or weaker than it was two years prior.
Retaining these ready-for-prime-time workers won’t be easy either – at least not with the same tactics employed to keep Baby Boomers hanging around for a few more years. According to the survey, half the boomers rated a promotion as the most effective way to get them to stay put. But that’s a catch-22. By promoting the Baby Boomers, the Gray Ceiling is only fortified, prompting Gen Xers to look even harder for new opportunities. Forty-three percent of Boomers could be kept happy with a little support and appreciation from their supervisors.
But to complicate retention efforts, neither members of Generation X or Millennials rated appreciation by higher-ups as top reasons to stay in a job. When it comes to ranking the top turnover triggers, surveyed Baby Boomers rated “lack of trust in leadership” at the top of their list at 32%, while both Generation X and Millennial employees placed “lack of career progress” first at 38% and 30% respectively.
The findings also revealed that surveyed men rate “lack of compensation increases” at the top of their top turnover trigger list at 27% (compared to 14% of women), while women placed excessive workload” first at 31% (compared to 15% of men).
This survey once again confirms how little effort companies have committed to building a talent pipeline and succession plan. Only 6% of employees surveyed rate their companies’overall HR and talent efforts as “world-class,” while more than four in ten (43%) called them “fair” or “poor.” Not surprisingly, employees who describe their companies’ talent programs as “world-class” or “very good” are nearly twice (42% to 23%) as committed to remaining at their jobs than employees who work at companies with “fair” or “poor” talent efforts.
View the Deloitte survey results Talent Edge 2020.