59% of younger workers say pandemic has hindered their career progress

Businesses risk losing a whole generation of talent as nearly half (49%) of 18-34-year-olds plan to quit their jobs in the next twelve months. That’s according to new research from Personio, the HR software company for SMEs, which is calling on businesses to urgently re-engage this generation of workers – or risk even more problematic talent shortages as they navigate the year ahead.

The research, which surveyed HR decision-makers and workers in SMEs across the UK and Ireland, finds that 59% of younger workers (18-34-year-olds) feel they’ve missed out on promotions they felt they were due. In addition, two-thirds (66%) feel the pandemic has held them back in their career – suggesting that serious concerns around their career development and progression are influencing their decision to move on.

There is also the strong sense that younger workers have missed out on much-needed praise and acknowledgement of their hard work, with 70% of younger workers saying they haven’t received enough recognition from their employers on their performance over the pandemic, compared to 38% of those aged over 45.

Despite more than two-thirds (64%) of HR managers reporting that retention is currently their biggest issue, the research highlights a worrying disconnect between employers’ perceptions of what will encourage their employees to stay and the reality.

As a result of the pandemic, younger workers say they are increasingly looking for a more holistic approach to work, with 85% stating that a work-life balance is more important to them now, and a further 88% increasingly prioritising care from their employer for their wellbeing.

However, when looking at the steps organisations and HR teams are currently taking to help retain their workforce, only 19% are reviewing their employee experience and just 29% are looking to improve work-life balance – highlighting an urgent need for their primarily non-Gen Z and non-Millennial managers to evolve quickly to meet the needs of their younger workforce.

Ross Seychell, Chief People Officer at Personio, commented: “As businesses up and down the country battle with skills shortages, these findings highlight just how important it is for them to reconnect with their people, and recognise their efforts over the last few years. Especially those earlier on in their careers.”

“With young people feeling alienated and overlooked at work, HR managers and employers must understand more about their concerns and what they are looking for from the world of work. The bottom line is that if businesses fail to implement a holistic people strategy that meets the demands of their entire workforce, they will face the consequences of discontentment – and in the worst cases, an exodus of valuable young talent.”

Remote working also appears to have taken a much greater toll on younger workers, who may not have spent as much time in their workplaces pre-pandemic, compared to their older colleagues: 60% of younger workers state remote working has affected their career progression, compared to just 12% of those aged over 45.

Furthermore, an astonishing one in ten younger workers say they have never had their performance reviewed, whilst nearly a quarter (23%) are only reviewed once a year – highlighting that the pandemic and prolonged remote working may be posing a threat to learning and development, with respondents raising concerns around a lack of proper feedback and regular performance reviews.