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The Leadership Gap: Young workers most concerned remote work will impact career success

By Universum on 13/10/2021

  • Universum’s survey of 18,000 people in the UK highlights concerns over remote working are most felt by young workers.
  • The report offers clues about potential future skills shortages as younger people have concerns over a lack of leadership, training and networking opportunities could be holding them back, despite the majority favouring remote working opportunities.
  • Self-confidence and earnings potential were also identified as being key remote work worries for younger workers compared with their older counterparts.
  • Universum’s annual “Most Attractive Employers Survey” enables employers to see where candidates place them in the employer rankings.

LONDON, October 13th 2021 – Young professionals and students have greater concerns about the rise of remote work than their older counterparts, according to a new report from employer branding specialist Universum.

Universum’s annual Most Attractive Employers report, which surveyed over 18,000 people in the UK, suggests in the wake of the pandemic and Brexit, a remote-working ‘leadership gap’ could contribute to future skills shortages as junior and professionals have vastly different views on being out of the office. 

Whilst 79% of all professionals are interested in remote working opportunities, the data skews in favour of senior professionals – 82% of whom are interested in remote working opportunities, followed by young professionals (78%) and students (69%). This highlights that while inevitably there are some worries that come with a shift into remote working beyond the pandemic, overwhelmingly, workers want to work in this way in some capacity, regardless of their age.

With this, the number of senior professionals with no concerns about working remotely is almost double that of younger workers (23% vs 12%).

Younger workers worried about being isolated
Connecting with colleagues is the biggest concern young people have about remote work. Over half of young workers (57%) and students (56%) surveyed were concerned about being isolated and missing out on social connections with co-workers – compared with just 40% of senior professionals. 

This is followed by concerns about employers being biased towards in-person workers (38% of young professionals), being left out of important meetings (34%) and difficulties with onboarding into new jobs (30%).

The report further highlights how, when compared with senior professionals, students are more than twice as likely to say no to remote working opportunities (31% vs 18%). 

Younger workers worried about future earnings
Earnings potential was also a key area of concern for young people. Where established senior professionals were less concerned (only 19%) that remote working would negatively impact their take home pay, some 30% of young people believe that working from home will reduce their earning potential. 

Universum’s UK Director, Steve Ward said:

“Our new research shows just how important it is that employers strike the right balance when structuring the working week. While remote working opportunities continue to be the preference for staff across the board, employers must take note of some of the barriers their younger staff may be concerned about. 

By being open about the pros and cons of remote and in-office work, employers can find a hybrid model that meets the needs of staff both in their personal and working lives. In understanding the priorities and concerns of different age groups within the workforce, employers can better tailor solutions to ensure happiness, productivity and success.”

Self Confidence
Young professionals are also struggling with self-confidence when it comes to their ability to perform their duties. 70% of senior professionals felt they have the appropriate skills to do their job, while only 57% of young professionals felt the same way.  The findings suggest that without the ability to bounce questions or receive casual, real-time feedback, young people are missing a key feedback loop that senior professionals rely on less.  

Universum’s UK Director, Steve Ward said:

“The experience of working from home is dramatically different depending on where you’re at in your career. While senior professionals have benefitted from established connections in the workplace, and higher levels of confidence in their ability to do their jobs, junior professionals have been reminded of the lack of networking and learning and development opportunities. Ultimately, our research shows younger people are feeling less confident in themselves if they only have access to managers or business leaders through a laptop screen. 

“Our research also highlights that whilst employees are interested in remote working, during the recovery phase it will be key to help junior staff reintegrate to the physical office with guidance and mentoring shown to them by their more senior colleagues so young people really feel seen and valued.” 

Universum’s annual “Most Attractive Employers Survey” enables employers to see where candidates place them in the employer rankings. To see the full list of company rankings, visit Most Attractive Employers.

Universum’s Top Ten Most Attractive Employers of 2021


1. Google
2. NHS
3. Netflix
4. Apple

5. Amazon
6. Nike
7. J.P. Morgan
8. Civil Service
9. HM Revenue and Customs
10. BBC


1. BAE Systems
2. Rolls-Royce

3. McLaren
4. Aston Martin
5. Jaguar Land Rover
6. Google
7. Airbus
8. Boeing
9. Network Rail
10. Secret Intelligence Service


1. Google
2. Microsoft
3. Amazon
4. Apple
5. NHS

6. Netflix
7. Secret Intelligence Service
8. Facebook
9. IBM
10. BBC

Natural Sciences

1. NHS
2. Environment Agency
3. National Trust
4. GlaxoSmithKline
5. AstraZeneca
6. Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
7. Google
8. Cancer Research UK
9. Civil Service
10. Pfizer

Social Sciences and Humanities

1. BBC
2. NHS
3. Civil Service
4. Netflix
5. Channel 4
6. British Council

7. Google
8. Police
9. ITV
10. Teach First


1. Civil Service
2. Google
3. The Crown Prosecution Service
4. Police
5. NHS
6. BBC
7. Apple
8. Bank of England
9. ITV
10. Teach First


1. NHS
2. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence
3. Department of Health and Social Care
4. GlaxoSmithKline
5. Pfizer
6. Nuffield Health
7. Bupa

8. National Institute for Health Research
9. Cancer Research UK
10. AstraZeneca

About Universum  

Universum, part of Totaljobs Group in the UK and StepStone Group globally is a thought leader in Employer Branding. With over 30 years of valuable experience in the field of employer branding, we have established ourselves in 60 markets globally, and our diverse workforce is physically present in 20 countries. We are uniquely positioned through our talent surveys to deliver key insights to recruiters about what future talent is looking for in a company. Our data-led, human and meaningful output has attracted more than 1,700 clients, including many Fortune 500 companies, as well as global media partners that publish our annual rankings and trend reports. Find out more at