As a result of the extended homeworking measures, new research finds that young people have been afflicted by a workplace development dip. 

The challenges that young workers are facing at present have been acknowledged by the majority of business leaders, a new study by LinkedIn shows.

Over four in five UK leaders (87 per cent) believe that young people have been hit by a dip in workplace development due to working remotely.

Key areas of professional development have been affected such as integrating with other colleagues, learning by osmosis and honing the necessary skills needed to carry out their jobs effectively.

Almost a third of business leaders (30 per cent) felt it was difficult for young people to onboard when starting their first day from home.

In addition, building meaningful, professional relationships has also been impacted due to the lack of face-to-face interaction, close to half of business leaders (42 per cent) confessed.

Furthermore, according to business leaders, many different aspects of learning have been underdeveloped. This includes the chance for young staff to learn by osmosis from being around more experienced colleagues (36 per cent), developing essential soft skills (36 per cent) and building professional networks (37 per cent).

Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, previously encouraged a return to offices as he championed the benefits this could have for people first starting out in their careers.

Speaking from his own experience, Mr. Sunak stated that mentors that he gained when beginning his first role have proved to be a defining part of his career even when they have parted ways.

Since the start of this month (September), figures have shown that ridership on the London Underground has almost returned to pre-pandemic levels, suggesting that many staff are now travelling to their workplaces again.

The LinkedIn research also revealed that it was not just business leaders who highlighted the workplace development dip but this was also readily identified by young employees themselves.

Over two-thirds of young people (69 per cent)  believe their professional learning experience has been impacted by the pandemic.

Over half (57 per cent) of those asked to return to offices feel their ability to make conversation at work has suffered and close to three-quarters (71 per cent) say they have forgotten how to conduct themselves in an office environment.

Ultimately, the vast majority (84 per cent) feel “out of practice” when it comes to office life, particularly with delivering presentations (29 per cent) and speaking to customers or clients (34 per cent).

As such, many leaders (78 per cent) are planning to deliver training courses to aid employees in adapting to new ways of working which will specifically help young people.

Over half (55 per cent) are also planning to increase budgets for employee social events to encourage relationship building that young employees have missed out on.

Becky Schnauffer, Director at LinkedIn, said:

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 recognise 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 programmes and continuous learning, these initiatives will go a long way to help young people catch up.


*LinkedIn commissioned YouGov to survey 250+ C-level executives in the UK – from organisations with 1,000+ employees and £250+ million annual turnover – during 4th to 24th August 2021 to understand how they are considering the future of work.

Another survey was also conducted surveying 1000+ employees in the UK who had to work from home during the pandemic. The fieldwork was carried out during 23rd-27th July 2021.