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Third of UK employees disappointed with their career progression

How to talk about a job you hate

A third (33%) of UK employees say their career progression to date has failed to meet their expectations, with poor advice one of the reasons cited as stopping them from getting into the right jobs and bad line management preventing them from getting on once in work.

This is according the latest Employee Outlook Survey: Focus on Skills and Careers from the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development. The survey of more than 2,000 employees considered the key factors relating to employees’ upbringing, education and workplace that affect whether or not their career progression had met their expectations.

It found that over a quarter (26%) of those whose career has failed to live up to their expectations identified poor-quality career advice and guidance at school as a key factor to blame, with three in 10 (29%) saying they are in the wrong career so cannot show their strengths or potential. The most common workplace factor behind career disappointment is poor line management, cited by four in 10 (39%) employees whose career has failed to meet expectations, followed by a lack of effective training programmes (34%) and negative office politics (34%).

The survey also found a number of factors that disproportionately hold back people that are from financially disadvantaged backgrounds. The highest proportion of respondents whose career had failed to meet their expectations were from poor or very poor backgrounds (39%). Four in 10 of these respondents identified inadequate line management (42%) and a lack of training programmes (42%) at work as key reasons, compared to 32% and 30% respectively of those from well-off backgrounds. Similarly, a third (33%) of respondents who are from poor backgrounds and disappointed with their career progression identified not being able to afford to invest in their own personal development outside of work as a key factor, compared to just 8% from well-off backgrounds.

The CIPD recommends that employers should:

  • Prioritise line management development – good quality line management is at the heart of effective progression in the workplace and poor line management holds people back.
  • Review their approach to flexible working practices – employees that work flexibly or on part-time basis should have the same opportunities to learn, develop and progress at work as full-time employees.
  • Improve access to training – development opportunities in the workplace are crucial to progression and with the world of work constantly changing, it’s in employers’ interest to invest in the skills of their workforce and keep their workers engaged.