follow us on twitter @elitebizmag find us on facebook connect with us on linkedin 

Are Britain’s brightest young workers looking for the exit sign?

Written by Jon Maddison on Friday, 13 August 2021. Posted in Talent, People

Businesses are tentatively setting out new workplace strategies as lockdown rules ease. To support employers, we’ve recently published an extensive and in-depth study of how British workers currently feel about their work, careers, and futures.

Are Britain’s brightest young workers looking for the exit sign?

Businesses are tentatively setting out new workplace strategies as lockdown rules ease. To support employers, we’ve recently published an extensive and in-depth study of how British workers currently feel about their work, careers, and futures.

Here’s what more than 1,000 employees in the UK told us:

  • Britain’s youngest workers (aged 16-24) don’t feel trusted or heard, and 78% of them are job hunting
  • 58% of workers describe themselves as very or somewhat engaged in their current job, while a significant proportion (29%) feel undervalued and this climbs to a third in the 16-24 age group.  
  • Employees in this group said the top ways to make them feel more valued were customer recognition (21%), senior leader recognition (19%); recognition in front of the company and financial reward were tied at 15%

One in four see no reason to stay put

If many people on your staff have itchy feet, perhaps even more concerning is just how disengaged an equally large number of the people you rely on are currently feeling. One in four UK respondents said they could offer no big reason to stay put, the second most popular answer behind that was poor work-life balance (26%). 

It’s undeniable that these figures translate into a lot of people actively looking to move on. Another big percentage have no strong reason to be loyal and might well accept a new role if the right offer comes along. Some of this will most certainly be down to pandemic exhaustion and the stress from having been locked down while dealing with a range of difficult work and personal issues. But this doesn’t change the fact that HR has a considerable challenge to deal with.

Most concerning is that it’s the ‘rising stars’ who should be lined up to support your long-term future, who are turned off. They say their leaders don’t listen, with unheard or overlooked feedback as the top response at 32%. The stark reality is that 78% of the rising stars in your office could well be quietly applying, or intending to apply, for new jobs as soon as we emerge properly from the global health crisis.

That exodus will have serious implications for the next few months. Any British companies that have invested heavily in graduates, apprentices, and other young talent could see that investment walk out of the front door. This poses huge threats to industries like hospitality and logistics, which are already struggling with staff and skills shortages.

How can you turn the tide?

The good news is there may be ways to stem the tide and rebuild workplace trust and positivity in such a way that the post-COVID boom could be a welcome reality for you.

By improving communication, you can boost relationships, foster more (and more sustainable) employee engagement, win back trust, get people feeling more job satisfaction and loyalty, and so stem any potentially crippling mass resignations. 

Key to winning back hearts and minds: not just saying you are ready to listen, but show you are. Too many firms are failing to seek feedback on critical issues that cross demographics, from company culture to diversity and inclusion. Employees are positive when they see managers acting on feedback they have provided, with 81% of 18- to 24-year-olds in the study willing to back their managers if this starts to happen, for example.

Our study also revealed that young workers are hungry for recognition - by colleagues, managers, leaders, and customers. At Achievers, we work with customers to embed “Recognition 3.0,” which involves applying modern engagement science and focusing on peer-to-peer, frequent recognition that reinforces values-based behaviour. Having the right systems in place for peer-to-peer recognition and reward, will also level the playing field in new hybrid office setups.

I can’t think of a time in my career when it’s been more important to listen to your people and act; recognise contributions and reward them. Organisations that invest in these areas now will gain so much more than a short term post-Covid “bounce”. I firmly believe they will be more competitive, resilient, and profitable in the long-term.

About the Author

Jon Maddison

Jon Maddison

The author is Managing Director of EMEA at Achievers which provides employee voice and recognition solutions that builds engagement and sustainable performance in organisations.

Our Partners

Event Media Partners