New research we recently released at MetLife reveals only 68% of Gen X workers report being happy at work compared to 75% of Millennials and 74% of Baby Boomers.*

If you find yourself relating to this figure, rest assured that the opportunity to take control of your destiny is possible now more than at any other point in history. Here are three ways for Gen Xers to address the needs they have identified as barriers to feeling fulfilled and happy at work and in life.

Ask for training.

  • Gen X workers crave detailed training programs to help them in their roles, but just 55% say their employer provides training to help them stay successful, compared with two-thirds of Millennials.*

That doesn’t mean you need to sit on your hands until something is offered. Many employers would be thrilled if employees proactively reach out with course recommendations. Knowledge is plentiful in a post-digital age so whether you find a two-hour online course or a semester long in-person session to immerse yourself in a new skill, have confidence to take that recommendation to your employer for support.  

Get smart about existing financial tools.

  • Gen Xers are least likely to understand how financial planning can help achieve life goals (only 70% say they understand compared to 77% of Millennials and 76% of Baby Boomers).*
  • Although employees across the board are interested in more financial wellness tools, only 20% of employers offer this benefit.*

There are numerous financial wellness tools available for inquiring minds. First, find out if your employer is one of the 20% and leverage the existing tools for employees. Otherwise, start piecing together a picture of financial health by identifying resources that help you understand retirement, budgeting / financial planning, and passive income growth. Also, leverage a financial professional for help understanding where to begin on the road to financial wellness. Remember that time does translate to money when it comes to planning for your financial future, so the sooner you start, the better.

Look at benefits in a different light.

  • When asked to decide between better benefits or more flexibility, 57% of Gen X workers chose better benefits, compared to only 48% of Millennials.*
  • While 75% of employers believe they are offering employees benefits that meet their personalized situations, only 65% of Gen X workers said their employer offers a range of benefits to meet their personal and household needs.*

Take a deep dive into your benefits to see if customization is a possibility. Does your employer offer voluntary benefits such as a group legal plan, critical illness insurance, supplementary health or disability insurance that could provide you with financial flexibility? Employers are testing all sorts of voluntary benefits to fill the gaps between what you need and where you want to go. Take advantage of them.     

Gen Xers are trying to raise children, support aging parents, and pay off debt, so although it isn’t entirely surprising, it shouldn’t be the norm that they are unhappy at work – and it doesn’t need to. Times are changing, so while employers continue to reach out to multiple generations in the workplace, employees can also play a role in taking control of their work-life happiness.

*MetLife’s 17th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study, 2019