COVID-19 has completely disrupted how we all work, but younger workers have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic.
According to a study by LinkedIn, 40% of 500 C-Suite leaders surveyed in the US and the UK believe that young people have missed out on valuable experiences and opportunities, including learning by ‘osmosis’ from their peers, during the pandemic.
Further to this 87% of UK business leaders said young employees had been hit by a development dip during the pandemic, while 37% believed younger employees had missed out on developing soft skills.
42% of the 250 C-Suite leaders surveyed in the UK also recognized how the pandemic has made it challenging for this demographic to build meaningful relationships with their colleagues.
Unsurprisingly, employees agree with this.
69% of the 1,000 16- to 34-year-olds surveyed in the UK believe that their professional learning experience has been impacted by the pandemic.
84% said they were out of practice with office life and 71% said they had forgotten how to conduct themselves in an office environment. This was particularly in terms of doing presentations (29%) and speaking to customers and clients (34%).
How to help young employees in the future
But with the future of work looking set to be hybrid – 81% of those surveyed by LinkedIn in the US and UK said they were planning to introduce flexible working – and this bringing further disruption, what can companies do to help young employees catch up?
According to LinkedIn, 78% of UK leaders are planning to introduce training courses to help all employees, but particularly younger ones, to adapt to this new way of working, while 55% are planning to increase budgets for employee social events to improve inter and intra-team collaboration.
In the US and UK-based LinkedIn study, 43% of respondents stated it was crucial to support meaningful relationship – 72% said they were introducing training courses and 48% were increasing budgets for social events.
LinkedIn director Becky Schnauffer noted: “It’s clear that the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent disruption to workplaces has had a disproportionate impact on young people and their skills development.
“For those young professionals who are feeling “out of practice” when it comes to office life, it will be reassuring for them to hear that business leaders recognize the challenges they’ve faced and are seeking to address them.”
“Many leaders are working closely with HR who are introducing training courses and guidelines to help employees adapt to a new way of working, and it’s positive to see budgets for social events increasing to support employee relationship building.
“Combined with mentoring programs and continuous learning, these initiatives will go a long way to help young people catch up.”
LinkedIn managing director for EMEA and LATAM Josh Graff added: “It’s positive to see leaders embrace new ways of working and feel optimistic about their ability to lead a distributed workforce.
“Crucial to this are essential soft skills – compassion, trust and empathy – not just for leaders, but managers too, as they work to ensure everyone feels included regardless of their physical location or the flexibility they need.
“Decisions that are made now will define businesses in the years to come, and those that evolve will see the benefits of building a more diverse and equitable world of work.”