Young professionals are demanding career growth plans from their managers.
It’s true that most workers will be more successful and engaged when they have plans for professional development. But Gen Zers arguably need it more than most because of their lack of work experience due to graduating during the pandemic.
New research from employee success platform StaffCircle found that 73% of Gen Z employees said they are more likely to leave an organization if they don’t receive frequent managerial feedback and communication. On the other hand, only 52% of non-Gen Z employees said the same.
And there are clear gaps in this area right now. The data, which surveyed 1,000 employees and 250 HR professionals, found that just 15% of employees have regular weekly check-ins with their managers to discuss performance. The majority of employees (76%) only have a check-in once per month or less.
“A lot of people we interviewed were like, ‘We’re just not going to stay at companies where we don’t interact with our managers on a regular basis, we’re just not going to do it,’” said Mark Seemann, founder and CEO at StaffCircle. “Gen Z has put a nail in the coffin for that kind of ad-hoc management and way to deal with your team.”
When it comes to logging feedback from performance management meetings, 25% of employees don’t have access to personal development plans and associated goals. Seemann warned that if managers don’t check in more regularly with their staff, they will start checking out altogether.
“It’s a real wake up call for businesses not used to a structured approach,” said Seemann. “In a modern workforce, you should get regular check-ins. That’s just good practice. With Gen Z, working patterns have changed and they expect a certain level of interaction, whether it’s online or face-to-face.”
Is quitting if they don’t get that an appropriate response? Experts say it is.
“Gen Z has a different outlook on things,” said Seemann. “Their value ecosystem is different and their expectations of what good looks like is higher than previous generations. They don’t fear change as much because of the fact their whole early adulthood has been about change. Gone are the days where a young professional says they’re going to stay at a job for five, six years.”
And that isn’t the only data painting this picture. A new report by global edtech company 360Learning that surveyed 3,600 talent managers and learning and development professionals in the U.K., U.S., France and Germany found that 60% of respondents said young people quitting their jobs and the inability to hire the right skills are top problems.
The data shows that these problems are exacerbated by the fact that companies are finding it hard to upskill and reskill their employees fast enough when both young and old people leave. And there’s still a long way to go. When asked how effective their organizations had been in upskilling them, almost two-thirds of respondents described them as inadequate. More than half (58%) said that the sharing of knowledge between more experienced colleagues when they moved internally, was “well-meaning … but full of gaps.”
“The skills crisis is putting significant pressure on businesses of all sizes with the loss of internal skills and knowledge, whether from high turnover amongst younger employers to baby boomers retiring and the inability to hire skilled talent,” said David James, chief learning officer at 360Learning.
Research by LinkedIn has shown that employees are more likely to stay at companies that invest in their learning long-term, demonstrating the positive impact that implementing upskilling/reskilling initiatives can have on workforces.
Nicholas Wagner, chief people and culture officer at 360Learning, stressed that it’s important to rethink how managers approach career growth plans.
“The difficulty with career growth plans is that what appears relevant for five years’ time could be completely different,” said Wagner. “So we need to move away from thinking about career growth as constrained to certain positions in a company and more about the skills people need as they grow: from digital and technical skills to managerial and leadership capability.”
For Gen Zers, engaging with them on a frequent basis is critical to their success. Research has time and time again proved that employees who feel engaged with work and receive regular training are less likely to leave a company.
“This is why regular learning and development at work is so important,” said Wagner. “Continually challenging employees, and enabling them to learn new skills and grow at work, helps them to feel valued and committed to the business whilst also developing personally and professionally.”
He suggested really taking a deep dive into internal upskilling and reskilling to help talent grow and overcome challenges. And with Gen Z professionals expected to account for more than a quarter of the workforce by 2025, companies need to start getting it right now so they can successfully hire and retain new employees in the years to come.
“To keep Gen Z employees and to grow as a business, companies need to create the right infrastructure and processes to support career progression from within,” said Wagner.