Progression and Development: The New Employment Dealbreaker

Despite being much maligned in many respects, Generation X and the younger contingent of Millennials are shaping up to be some of the most ambitious employees businesses can hire – and a new survey reiterates exactly this aspiration and enthusiasm.

AI workplace training provider Soffos carried out a survey of over 1,200 UK workers in full-time employment to better understand their attitudes toward their career and the impact that remote working has had on their progression.

The results found that 34% of employees aged between 18-37 had concerns that they were falling behind their colleagues and peers in terms of career development and progression; yet only 12% of those aged 55+ believed the same. During the pandemic (counting the period from March 2020 to present), only 22% of respondents said their employer had invested in their professional development and 37% were hesitant to approach their managers or senior team for extra support in their role. What is perhaps more shocking is that 31% aged under 35 were considering leaving their current jobs within the next year if their employer did not begin to actively invest time, effort or resources into their professional development. This figure dropped; although not to a lesser shocking figure; of 22% across all age groups.

Of course, the last 18 months or so have not seen favourable trading conditions for many businesses. This has resulted in many focusing on survival rather than employee training or development, and so leaves lots of companies unable to move toward such investments at present or in the near future. This prompts us to ask: what can be done by small businesses to avoid an exodus of young staff?

If you can invest, do invest.

Some sectors of business are still eligible for investment support and even write-offs with ongoing government help. If so, investing in new equipment, staff training or professional development is cheaper and more accessible now than ever before – so should be considered as a priority. If not, but the business is still able to weather the cost (in finance and resource), work with employees to navigate the right path forward together.

Speak to employees.

What each staff member considers to be appropriate professional development is individual, and must be understood. Offering a blanket development policy and pathway may work for some companies (and indeed, some employees), but this should be designed in collaboration with staff to ensure that it’s as effective as possible.

Remain honest.

If development opportunities aren’t an option, or even aren’t currently an option, this should be communicated clearly to employees. Being transparent in communications around training and development with the workforce should be a priority in order to best manage expectations. Staff are more likely to respect honesty than no communication at all and with clear timelines (if development opportunities are likely to surface in the future), allows them to best judge their own path forward – be that with your business or another.

No matter the average age of your workforce, younger workers will eventually progress and take over. Their attitudes and ambitions should not be discarded and instead should be embraced as building blocks to the future of business!

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