From education to employment

The Leadership Gap: Young workers most concerned remote work will impact career success

Young professionals and students have far greater concerns about the rise of remote work than their senior counterparts, according to a new report from employer branding specialist Universum.

  • Universum’s survey of 18,000 people in the UK highlights concerns over remote working are most felt by young people
  • The report offers clues about potential future skills shortages as younger fear a lack of leadership and training and connection opportunities could be holding them back
  • Self-confidence and earnings potential were also identified as being key remote work worry for younger workers as compared with their senior counterparts

Universum’s annual Most Attractive Employers report, which surveyed over 18,000 people in the UK, suggests in the wake of the pandemic and Brexit, a remote-working ‘leadership gap’ could contribute to future skills shortages as junior and senior professionals have vastly different views on being out of the office.

The number of senior professionals with no concerns about working remotely is almost double that of younger workers (23% vs 12%) and whilst 79% of all professionals were interested in remote working, the data skews in favour of senior professionals.

Younger workers worried about being isolated

Connecting with colleagues is the biggest concern young people have about remote work. Over half of young workers (57%) and students (56%) surveyed were concerned about being isolated and missing out on social connections with co-workers – compared with just 40% of senior professionals.

This is followed by being left out of important meetings (38% of young professionals), difficulties with onboarding into new jobs/roles and employers being bias towards in person workers. 

The report further highlights how, when compared with senior professionals, students are twice as likely to say no to remote working opportunities (31% vs 18%).

Younger workers worried about future earnings

Earnings potential was also a key area of concern for young people.  Where established senior professionals were less concerned (only 19%) that remote working would negatively impact their take home, some 30% of young people believe that working from home will reduce their earning potential.  Whether this fear is founded or not, it should inform decision makers who are considering new hybrid ways of working.

Universum’s UK Director, Steve Ward said: “Our report shows just how important it is that employers strike the right balance in structuring their working week and how valuable an effective hybrid model can be, not just in meeting staff needs today, but also in developing the talent of tomorrow. In understanding the concerns raised by the younger workforce around remote working and their confidence in their ability to do their jobs, decision makers and industry leaders can better tailor their return solutions to ensure happiness, productivity and success.”

Self Confidence

Young professionals are also struggling with self-confidence when it comes to their ability to perform their duties.  70% of senior professionals felt they have the appropriate skills to do their job, while only 57% of young professionals felt the same way.  The findings suggest that without the ability to bounce questions or receive casual, real-time feedback, young people are missing a key feedback loop that senior professionals haven’t identified as being a priority. 

Universum’s UK Director, Steve Ward said:

“The experience of working from home is dramatically different depending on where you’re at in your career. While senior professionals have benefited from established connections in the workplace, and higher levels of confidence in their ability to do their jobs, junior professionals have been reminded of the lack of networking opportunities, learning and development opportunities and ultimately, feeling less confident in themselves without the leadership shown to them in a physical workplace.

“Our research also highlights that whilst employees are interested in remote working, during the recovery phrase it will be key to help juniors reintegrate to the physical office with guidance and mentoring shown to them by their seniors.”

Universum’s annual “Most Attractive Employers” Survey enables employers to see where candidates place them in the Employer Rankings.

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