17. March 2022

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

Young worker

+++ Nearly half (49%) of younger workers (18-34 year olds) are planning to look for a new job in the next twelve months

+++ The next wave of the Great Resignation comes as 59% of younger workers feel they’ve missed out on promotions they felt they were due 

+++ 60% of young workers state that working remotely has impacted their career progression – with one in ten younger workers saying they have never had their performance reviewed

London, March 17: 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 (younger workers represent those aged 18-34 years old) feel they’ve missed out on promotions they felt they were due (compared to 11% of those aged 45+). In addition, two thirds (66%) feel the pandemic has held them back in their career (compared to 24% of those aged 45+) – 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.


Press enquiries:

Personio GmbH Matthew Tubbs Senior Communications Manager Tel: + 44 (0)7788163261 E-Mail: press@personio.de

UK & Ireland – Firstlight Group  Rosie Stafford Tel: + 44 (0)7769618500 E-Mail: personioteam@firstlightgroup.io

About the research: Survey fieldwork was undertaken on behalf of Personio by Opinium, with fieldwork conducted between 26th January and 4th February 2022. The survey sample was 250 senior decision makers and 1,000 workers in the UK and Republic of Ireland, in SMEs across a range of industries and organisation types.

About Personio: Personio is the People Operating System for small and medium-sized companies with 10 to 2,000 employees. Based in Munich, Madrid, London, Dublin and Amsterdam, Personio’s mission is to make HR processes as transparent and efficient as possible so HR can focus on what matters most: people. Personio does that by offering an all-in-one HR software that includes human resources, recruiting and payroll, enabling HR to go beyond HR. Thanks to People Workflow Automation technology Personio helps more than 6,000 customers across Europe to remove delays and realise opportunities. 

In October 2021, Personio received Series E funding, valuing the company at $6.3 billion. This not only makes Personio Europe’s most valuable HR tech company but catapulted it into the top 10 of Europe’s most valuable startups.