Career dissatisfaction on rise as staff don’t see growth

Career dissatisfaction on rise as staff don’t see growth

42% of the workforce are dissatisfied with their career, according to a new employee survey.

That many have hit a career ceiling, feel frustrated, or are in a toxic situation (the study analysed attitudes to present circumstances and future intentions).

In addition, one in five are actively seeking to leave their employers — this was highest for males in the 35-44 age category, at 24%, and at 23% for females in the 45-54 age category.

The people-management business Harmonics — the Irish partner of OI Global Partners — has released the findings from its Future Workforce Readiness Research Study, compiled to measure the preparedness of the workforce for the major changes ahead in the new world of work.


“Our study shows a very high percentage are either disengaged with their employer or don’t see opportunity for career growth,” said John Fitzgerald, managing director of Harmonics and author of the research.

“The study highlights the opportunity which exists for all organisations to engage with their employees in meaningful career-development conversations — especially in a market where talent is so scarce.

“This silent dissatisfaction is workforce data that requires urgent attention and can create obvious wins with the correct interventions.”

When looking at the comparisons between male and female respondents, the study noted that 34 is the age when the career-growth trajectory declines for women, and observed that females see themselves as having “hit a career ceiling” more so than their male counterparts for all these age bands.

Career dissatisfaction on rise as staff don’t see growth

When broken down, the results showed a very clear disconnect between a person’s perceptions of their future career readiness versus their actual level of readiness. The key theme is a lack of readiness to take advantage of workplace change that is happening now.

“People think they are better-prepared than they actually are,” says Fitzgerald.

While they may be confident in their professional and personal development, the busyness of daily work tasks and lack of longer-term planning may be leading to an over-confidence in their capability to succeed in the future of work.

There was a distinct lack of preparation for the impact of AI and automation and awareness of how they can bridge the gap, so they can stay ahead in their careers, he said.


“The speed of change in the global economy means employers are almost always in a restructuring and change mode. Plus, the rise of AI and automation is leading to new ways of working.

“For organisations, this means traditional workforce planning is no longer fit for purpose and job descriptions are in constant flux. For individuals, climbing the traditional career ladder no longer makes sense as a lifelong career strategy,” he said.

500 working professionals from 21 countries worldwide participated in the study during the spring of 2019, with the majority of respondents from Ireland.

Harmonics also designed the Future Career Readiness Index, an online tool, to help organisations take an ‘instant pulse’ on how their workforce is thinking about their career now and their future intentions.

“Future career readiness is the main critical indicator that illustrates the gap between your current and future workforce readiness to change. Yet it is the one thing that never gets measured,” said Fitzgerald.