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Why are Europe’s young techies dissatisfied with their jobs?

A new report reveals that young people are unhappy with their tech jobs — and some are wanting out

By Miriam Partington in Berlin

Photo by Annie Spratt via Unsplash

Since Google, Apple and Facebook made their mark on the world, working in dynamic, fast-growing tech has seemed to be every young person’s dream. 

But a new report suggests that young people — at least in Europe — aren’t quite satisfied with their tech jobs.  

Spoiler: it boils down to three things — career development, compensation and relationships with managers, according to a new report from HR platform HiBob and global VC Eight Roads.

2,000 20-30-year-old tech workers in Europe were surveyed between July and August. They ranged from junior to senior talent across the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, France and Spain, and were split evenly between male and female.  

Here are a few key takeaways. 

Nearly a third of young workers are considering leaving their roles in tech

The majority of respondents seem happy in their current roles: 33% of respondents said they had no intention of leaving their company in 2022, although 2023 is just around the corner. And 29% said they had no intention of leaving their job for the foreseeable future. 

Nearly a third of respondents, however, said they were considering leaving their current jobs either now or in the near future. 

18% expect to be promoted in the next 12 months or will leave altogether.

11% are actively looking for a new role. 

 

Thomas Kohler, cofounder and CEO of talent acquisition management company pplwise, says that a chunk of junior talent leaving the market could be problematic particularly for early-stage startups who cannot afford top senior hires when they’re first starting out.

However, it might benefit the wider economy: many industries, from healthcare to hospitality, are critically understaffed and are in urgent need of young talent. 

Lack of career development is the number one reason why people are dissatisfied 

When asked what they dislike most about their company, 24% of young people said that they didn’t have a clear career path. 

This chimes with a recent report which showed a lack of career development was the main reason workers of all ages were leaving their startup jobs. 

In the HiBob and Eight Roads report, workers cited lacklustre compensation packages the second most often as the reason for unhappiness with their jobs.

This was followed by a poor relationship with managers. 

Ronni Zehavi, CEO of HiBob, says the report’s findings “point to the perils of insufficient communication, and a resulting lack of engagement as a leading cause of uncertainty among the young generation of tech workers” — with many feeling disconnected from their managers and their company’s success.

He adds that managers should take heed of young people’s dissatisfaction and address issues such as career development, compensation and workplace relationships, if they don’t want to see an exodus of young talent. “Good tech skills are hard to come by and, as we’re hearing from the market, even harder to retain.”

Job insecurity is at an all-time high

The most attractive feature when looking for a job (according to 27% of respondents) is the future potential of a company. That was closely followed by job security (25%).

Despite this latter wish, 27% of respondents said they expected to be laid off or fired — as employees of European startups have been recently — during the economic downturn. 

41% were unsure whether or not they will be laid off.

Just 32% said they felt secure in their jobs.

Kohler says he’s observed a lack of motivation and ambition among young workers lately, which he says might be linked to the current market downturn and the consequent job insecurity that brings, as well as Coivd-19, which left many university students and young employees at home on Zoom rather than participating in exciting projects with their peers.

He says that managers must play a role in motivating younger workers: “You need to be inspirational and show employees that they can have real impact in the success of the company, otherwise you lose their engagement completely.”

Job satisfaction is lowest in the UK 

37% of young workers in the UK say that their job is below the standard they expected. 

This was closely followed by Ireland (33%) and France (24%.)

When young workers were asked whether they would recommend their company to a friend, 35% of those in the UK said they would not.  

HiBob’s Zehavi says that job satisfaction might be particularly low in the UK because “record levels” of job vacancies across sectors have “empowered workers to prioritise a sense of job satisfaction and, in turn, to more actively critique their current job experience”. 

Though low job satisfaction is pretty evident across all European countries.

“Employees expect rewarding compensation, but they value having clear opportunities for professional development plans and satisfying work experiences more,” he says.

The fact that work experience is rated poorly across the board, signals that more needs to be done to meet the needs of young people “beyond tactical pay rises,” adds Zehavi. Companies could start by offering a more open approach to flexible working models, mental health support, and enhanced career development programmes. 

Miriam Partington is Sifted’s DACH correspondent. She also covers future of work, coauthors Sifted’s Startup Life newsletter and tweets from @mparts_

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