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46% of Workers Wouldn't Recommend Their Job or Field to Youngsters

A woman is sitting at a desk with a laptop in front of her.

​Would you recommend your job or career field to your children or other young people you care about? No, said nearly half of 3,400 employees—including managers—around the globe. And more than one-third wouldn't wish their job on their worst enemy.

The findings are included in a new report, We Can Fix Work, from the Workforce Institute at UKG. The report compiles data from a survey conducted Sept. 16-Oct. 1 with respondents in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the U.K. and the U.S. The U.S. respondents included 600 C-suite leaders and 600 HR leaders.

Globally, 46 percent of respondents overall wouldn't recommend their job or industry to youngers, and unhappiness was highest among respondents in India, France and the U.S.:

  • India: 66 percent wouldn't recommend their profession, and 67 percent wouldn't recommend their employer.
  • France: 52 percent wouldn't recommend their profession, and 54 percent wouldn't recommend their employer.
  • U.S.: 50 percent wouldn't recommend their profession, and 48 percent wouldn't recommend their employer.
"There has been a massive shift in how people view the role of work in their lives," said Chris Mullen, SHRM-SCP, executive director of the Workforce Institute at UKG, in the report's introduction. "The pandemic forced most of us to reflect on our life-work journeys and realize there are many more important things in life than work."

"Some people are disheartened because work is failing to meet their expectations, and [they] are looking for organizations to step up and support them," he added, "including in new ways that have never been on the HR or leadership agenda before, so they can have flexibility and means to put time into what matters most to them."

More than half of all respondents (53 percent) told the Workforce Institute they would choose a completely different profession if they could step into the Wayback Machine, 64 percent would quit now if they could and 40 percent wished someone had warned them not to take their current job.

In fact, 89 percent said the pandemic made them realize there are more important things in life than work. Other factors are also in play for employees:
  • Having increased expectations for how their company should support them (76 percent).
  • Reconsidering qualities they look for in an employer (70 percent).
  • Thinking their company owes them more than just compensation (78 percent).
About three-fourths (74 percent) would encourage their children to choose a profession that is meaningful to them. While most respondents described themselves as money-driven, and 61 percent admitted they go to work primarily to collect a paycheck, clock out and go home, 74 percent hope future generations will do things differently and commit to work that they find fulfilling.

A 2022 ZipRecruiter survey found that 44 percent of job seekers with college degrees who wanted to find a job in the next six months regretted the major they chose.

"Job seekers' feelings about their college majors are strongly tied to their job prospects later," ZipRecruiter noted in a blog post about its findings. Journalism, sociology and liberal arts/general studies were the three most-regretted majors.

C-Level Leaders

Even company leaders, who have been successful enough in their careers to advance to top positions, have career regrets. While overall, the majority of leaders would be comfortable recommending their company to the next generation of people they care about, close to one-third would not want their children to have their job (29 percent) or be in their profession (32 percent), according to the Workforce Institute.

Again, the pandemic left its mark. Nearly two-thirds of C-suite leaders overall (61 percent) said they miss how people used to work before the pandemic. In the U.S., 40 percent of the C-level leaders said the stress from their work is so immense, they will likely quit within the next 12 months

A global report that Deloitte and Workplace Intelligence released in June found that nearly 70 percent of executives surveyed were seriously considering quitting their role for a job that better supports their well-being. More than half of employees (57 percent) shared that sentiment.

The study found that people believe their jobs not only don't support their well-being but actually harm it: 73 percent of the C-suite and 63 percent of employees indicated that their job doesn't allow them to take time off from work and disconnect. The findings are based on a survey conducted in February with 2,100 employees and C-level executives across Australia, Canada, the U.K. and the U.S.

Additionally, 81 percent of the C-suite and 68 percent of employees said improving their well-being is more important to them than advancing their career right now.

"It's time for the C-suite to become more health-savvy by embracing the expanding focus on well-being in their role," said Jen Fisher, Deloitte's U.S. chief well-being officer, in an announcement about the findings. "This critical shift will not only benefit their own well-being and the well-being of their people, but also the long-term success of their organizations." 

There is a global imperative for organizations to examine how the day-to-day work experience affects people's well-being, noted Dan Schawbel, managing partner at Workplace Intelligence. Leaders need to look at redesigning the work in their organization. For example, only 20 percent of employees said their organization has a ban on after-hours e-mails.

"The Great Resignation has shown us that employees are no longer willing to tolerate a job that leaves them constantly burned out and exhausted," Schawbel said, "and our study with Deloitte highlights that executives are also fed up with the current state of affairs."

Say What?

The Workforce Institute uncovered some paradoxes in its research: 84 percent of workers overall said they'd continue working if they won the lottery, and more than one-fourth (28 percent) would even work the same number of hours at their same job, the survey found.

"Humans by nature take pride in work," according to a Workforce Institute spokesperson, noting "there are millions of people who do look forward to going to work, and what these people often have in common is an employer that supports them, trusts them and helps them find purpose in their work."

Additionally, the spokesperson added, the 28 percent that indicated their employers are helping them feel cared for "makes the case that we should take the exceptional practices from these organizations to other workplaces around the world to help people find greater meaning, enjoyment and purpose at work."

Fixing Work

The Workforce Institute suggests organizations take the following steps to retain their workers:

  1. Share with employees how they are making a difference. Communicate to them how their tasks contribute to and align with your team's and organization's goals.
  2. Let employees know they are heard. There are a variety of ways to do this, such as surveys, stay interviews, one-on-one meetings or town hall gatherings. This can give managers valuable insights into how the organization can improve its culture.
  3. Encourage employees to take breaks and paid time off. This can include banning after-work e-mails from supervisors to direct reports, being clear what constitutes a full workday, discouraging people from working while on paid time off and supervisors delegating the responsibilities of employees taking paid time off to other team members.

Twenty percent of employers offer their employees a stipend if they take paid time off, Deloitte found, while some employers mandate employees take paid time off. The World Economic Forum advises employers using this strategy to create a clear, adaptable policy with rules that are easy to understand and follow.

It's important to foster a workplace where employees feel good about taking time to recharge, says Andrea Herron, SHRM-CP, head of people at WebMD, in an All Things Work podcast. She's also co-author of There’s An Elephant in Your Office (IBJ Book Publishing, 2018), a how-to guide on mental health issues in the workplace.

"There really isn't a huge differentiation now between work and home," she said. "It's infinitely more difficult to have any boundary of what is work time and what is home time when they're in the physical same location."


​An organization run by AI is not a futuristic concept. Such technology is already a part of many workplaces and will continue to shape the labor market and HR. Here's how employers and employees can successfully manage generative AI and other AI-powered systems.