Attracting and retaining young talent remains a priority for a thriving technology
ecosystem. Companies need to pay attention to what makes their employees feel
secure, supported and valued.
In 2022 we surveyed the Young Generation in Tech, across Europe, to get a better understanding of what makes them tick. This year we have repeated our survey and our findings are essential reading for employers who want to create high- performing workplaces.
We surveyed 2,000 20-30 year olds across seven European countries to understand how they feel about their role, the company they work for, and their prospects for the future. The countries included were the UK, Ireland, Sweden, Spain, France, the Netherlands, and Germany.
The YGIT expects artificial intelligence will have a significant impact in the workplace.
Economic uncertainty hasn’t knocked the career confidence of those in our survey.
While flexible work models remain important across all regions surveyed, young people value being in the office.
Workers say their mental health is impacted by work but there are things that can help.
When asked about their ideal employer, the third most popular choice is a company making a positive impact on the world.
The start of this year continued to be dominated by news of thousands of tech layoffs
in the industry, however our report shows that beyond the headlines the ecosystem
seems to be showing signs of recovery.
In last year’s survey of tech workers aged 20 to 30, respondents were notably lacking in job security. In repeating our research this year we have found that a sense of security has been restored. Job security has doubled from last year, with 59% of respondents feeling secure in their positions.
In addition, half of those surveyed (48%) say they are ‘very satisfied’ with their
current role, and only 15% are unsatisfied.
The data showed variations across Europe - in the UK 80% of respondents say they feel secure in their role compared to only 46% in Ireland and 48% in Sweden.
Consequently, just under a third (31%) of young workers say that they plan to stay in their current roles for the foreseeable future, compared with just 19% last year.
Again, some variation can be seen across countries, with Spain (43%) and Germany
(45%) above average, while French respondents were the least confident, with only
Overall, the young generation in tech expects artificial intelligence will supercharge their role and enable more time to focus on other value-added parts of their job.
The first quarter of
2023 saw several European economies enter recession, including Germany – one of
the countries in our survey – while others flatlined, like France. We found that
despite these shocks, young workers are noticeably resilient.
In 2022, the report revealed that the young generation in tech felt disillusioned and let down with their roles in the tech sector, with one in four Europeans on the verge of quitting. However this year, a third of workers believe that the tech industry will withstand the dark macro picture.
In repeating our research this year we have also found that a sense of security has been restored. Job security has doubled from last year, with 59% of respondents feeling secure in their positions.
Asked what might make them leave their job, only 11% cited concerns that their position might be made redundant. Otherwise, 16% said they would leave for better compensation, 13% for greater responsibilities, and the same proportion (13%) for flexible working arrangements.
For younger workers, economic disruption has formed the backdrop of most of their careers. The fact that they haven’t really known an alternative might be part of the explanation for their resilient attitude.
While flexible work models remain important across all regions surveyed, young people do still value the office. More than half (56%) said they choose to be in the office four or five days a week, while only 9% choose to work fully remotely. When asked what they most like about being in the office, respondents mention the people they work with: their team, their manager and interactions with people in general.
The challenge for organisations is not how to get everyone back to the office, but how to encourage, and continue to invest in, interactions with teams and managers.
A fifth of respondents (19%) say that their job ‘very much’ impacts their mental health, while 37% say that it ‘somewhat’ impacts their mental health. This likely reflects more openness and less stigma about mental health across society.
When asked what employers can do to support the respondents’ mental health, being trusted to complete tasks came out on top, followed by having the necessary resources to do their job, a manageable workload and extra work being acknowledged. Having direct access to mental health specialists, and specific wellbeing benefits fell further down the list. These are areas that employers could examine if they are concerned about employee mental health.
Only a small proportion of respondents (6%) said their company makes mental health specialists available, while a similar proportion (5%) mentioned wellbeing benefits. These benefits could be made more widely available.
The top answer, by a
narrow margin, was that the ideal company to join would be a leading brand (16%),
but this was followed by one that offers secure compensation and good career
development (14%), and one that makes a positive difference to the world (13%).
A similar theme was reflected when respondents were asked about a smart career path; the top answer was staying at the same company to gain seniority (23%), or working with talented people to learn new skills (15%).
There were also some striking differences between countries in attitudes towards smart career pathways.
Spanish respondents were far more likely to recommend staying at the
same company (29%), while Swedes were more likely to prefer working for a well-
known brand (20%) and those in the UK leaned towards working with smart people
to learn from (25%).
Proving that purpose is also a key driver for young workers, the third most popular value in an ideal role was revealed as working for a company making a positive impact, and respondents regret the fact their employer isn’t making more of a positive difference to the world. The same number of people said that working for a company with strong values which promotes fairness and collaboration while allowing time for volunteering supports their mental health and wellbeing.
Our snapshot of this young generation of technology workers suggests several ways businesses can better retain and attract high performers.
The rise of AI is not affecting confidence. Workers seem comfortable that it will augment them, rather than replace them. This suggests that it would be smart to proceed with the rollout of AI at pace, to get ahead of competitors.
Our research also demonstrates the importance of the office. More than half of respondents (56%) would choose to be in the office four or five days a week, while only 9% choose to work fully remotely. The value they get from the office comes from the people; they want to be around their team, their manager and the company culture. Employers should focus on creating an environment where people can collaborate effectively, while not overlooking the fact that most employees still value some flexibility.
One reason for allowing flexibility is to help manage stress. More than half of young workers say that their work ‘very much’ or ‘somewhat’ affects their mental health, which should concern employers.
The young generation is signalling a clear message: beyond competitive salaries and benefits, they're in search of workplaces that resonate with purpose, and we should empower them with the necessary resources to thrive. Companies that understand these needs will succeed in making young people feel more secure, and less likely to leave.
Overall, it's heartening to see confidence recover amongst the young generation in technology. Despite the ongoing economic uncertainty, today's young professionals are proving just how resilient and adaptable they can be. Not surprisingly, they are the fastest generation to embrace AI, seeing it as a strong productivity lever, and not a threat. AI is one of the most significant innovations of our time, and it’s great to see younger people so engaged with it.