Covid-19 creating career lockdown for younger workers

careerWith many continuing to work remotely for the foreseeable future, new insights from Sharp claim that a significant number of European office workers are concerned for their career prospects, with over half (51 percent) anxious about issues such as keeping skills up to date, lack of training and career opportunities when thinking long term about the future of work.

These insights, combined with analysis from academics, warn this could lead to a potential ‘career lockdown’ for those seen by many as digital natives, with prospects of progression on hold.

The new research of over 6,000 office workers in SMBs across Europe, claims the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on workers’ needs, as well as expectations for ways of working in the future. In response to the first series of findings, Sharp will be publishing further research findings in an upcoming Future of Work report due to be released in early 2021.

Despite these career concerns, the majority of those under the age of 30 feel remote working has made them more productive (51 percent), and the technology that supports it has enabled 63 percent to do their job more effectively. However, almost two thirds (61 percent) of workers under 30 said that working remotely makes it harder for them to stay informed on what’s going on in the company, while 55 percent said that they feel cut off from their team. Just over half said they find it hard to stay motivated, similarly 24 percent said they have concerns about keeping a team motivated remotely.

Besides the positive impact technology provides, the under 30s appear to be missing out on core skills needed for career progression as a result of working remotely. Future of work organisational psychologist, Viola Kraus explains “There is a growing trend that the youngest generation of workers, as ‘digital natives’ who know how to use tech, can be left to their own devices, to figure it out alone.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”It’s important to make sure the fundamentals of work that are key to career development aren’t left behind.”[/perfectpullquote]

This generation not only need to be taught the skills to get the best from technology, but need to be taught general business skills to progress in their job. These young workers’ fears for career development likely stem from a lack of connection and direction from their team and senior colleagues while working remotely, so it’s important to ensure that while we continue to work virtually, employers provide guidance and a formalised platform where peer-to-peer learning is encouraged, and eventually it happens naturally.”

The research suggests that those under 30 are looking to their employers to support them with opportunities to learn and develop. When thinking about their experiences during lockdown, 63 percent of office workers under 30 said that opportunities for upskilling and training had become more important to them. Similarly, when working remotely, 41 percent believe that employers should still be offering employees the opportunity to learn new skills through online training or companywide workshops.

Rob Davis, Solutions & Services Business Manager at Sharp “There is a clear concern from younger people in our workforce for long-lasting impact of the pandemic on their career development. As businesses plan for the future of work, it’s important to make sure the fundamentals of work that are key to career development aren’t left behind for the ‘digitally savvy’ generation, and ensure technology is used to support this learning and collaboration as the way we work continues to change.”

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