Generation Next survey reveals what young professionals most want from employers

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Posted by: JasmineThompson
Posted on: 18/12/2023

Flexible working, continuous personal development and maintaining a work-life balance are top of the list for the next generation of business, according to a report by East Midlands Chamber’s network for young professionals.

A healthy work-life balance was ranked as the most important aspect of a job by employees aged 18 to 35 in Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire, with 34% citing this as being above all other considerations in a survey by the Generation Next network.

This was followed by salary (30%), entrepreneurial freedom (20%), benefits (10%) and innovation (7%).

When asked how important hybrid and remote working is to securing a role, respondents gave it an average score of 7.3 out of 10.

Generation Next, which runs professional development events and mentoring services for 18 to 35-year-olds, carried out its first-ever Young Professionals in the East Midlands Survey, with the aim to help businesses and other key stakeholders in the region understand the development needs and preferences of the future and existing workforce, as well as to align the network’s offering to members.

The findings, which also covered challenges encountered by young employees and the type of learning they desire, will be discussed at the inaugural Generation Next Conference, held at Nottingham Forest’s City Ground stadium, on Friday 12 January.

Lucy Robinson, director of resources at East Midlands Chamber and Generation Next lead, said: “Undertaking this survey has been a really important piece of work for us, not only to help the wider East Midlands business community to retain and attract young talent, but also to ensure our services are still relevant in developing the region’s skills.

“Our Generation Next board of champions, chaired by Daniel Nikolla and featuring young professionals representing a broad range of sectors across the region, have spearheaded this work as they felt it was integral to giving a voice to young people working in our businesses, while enabling the network to stay committed to our mission of helping the young business community in the East Midlands to thrive.”

Other key findings in the survey, which was completed by 116 participants, included:

  • While four in 10 of respondents use to LinkedIn for career development opportunities, 22% look to their own organisation, with local business groups and education institutions also accessed. Some 77% said a company’s training policy is an important driver for recruitment.
  • Continuous learning was valued by 82% of respondents throughout their careers, with 32% interested in accredited learning.
  • Networking was found to be either a somewhat or incredibly significant driver of career development for 98% of respondents, and 82% expected their employers to finance a subscription to a membership organisation, such as the Chamber or Generation Next, to support their skills development.
  • Thirty-six people said they had been mistreated for being young or inexperienced, with other challenges reported including a lack of resource, disrespectful behaviour, a lack of self-confidence, resistance to change from their employer and restricted flexibility.

Generation Next was launched by the Chamber in February 2020 to offer support to young professionals working in Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire.

The network has since grown to more than 300 members, and offers networking opportunities, skills webinars, a mentoring scheme and resource library.

In April 2021, Generation Next announced its governance board of young professionals, known as “champions”, to help shape the network’s offering around the needs of members. This was followed by the formation of an ambassador programme earlier this year to develop the network’s profile.

The current chair Daniel Nikolla commissioned the survey as part of his goals during his first year heading up the board. Fellow board member Harsh Shah, who is a data analytics manager at East Midlands Chamber, created the survey.

Daniel added: “I’m delighted to launch the results of our first survey, and I’d like to thank everyone who took part in the study. It is important to give young professionals a voice among our community to ensure we are retaining the top talent for the future of business.”

To view the results of the survey, visit

The survey will be further discussed by a panel made up of leading businesspeople at Generation Next’s conference on 12 January. The conference will also tackle topics to help young professionals adopt entrepreneurial thinking and overcome adversity. To sign up for free, visit

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