Younger workers feel they’ve missed out on promotions and say the pandemic has held back their careers

Young office workers having a meeting

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, Europe’s leading 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.

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.