One in five (21%) young Australians working in tech are expecting to be laid off or fired during the economic downturn, and nearly half (49%) are unsure of their current job security, according to new research by HR tech firm HiBob.
Of the 861,000 people currently working in tech in Australia, an industry where over half (52%) of workers are under 40, a significant proportion of people in their 20s are now worried about how the global economic downturn is likely to affect their careers. This concern has been spurred on by the recent layoffs of thousands of staff in Australia by tech firms like Meta, Twitter and Salesforce.
According to the research, the new concern for the young generation in tech job security. The research shows that in Australia, levels of job security depend on several factors.
Overall about 50% of the respondents working in tech companies are in non-tech roles such as sales, marketing, customer support, finance and admin. Those in a non-tech role are the ones who are most concerned (25%) about being laid off or fired compared with those who are in a tech product role (17%). While there is always a shortage in developers and engineers, the customer-facing professionals are aware that the downturn can affect their roles.
Surprisingly, the young managers of teams are less confident about their job security than individual contributors; only 29% managers feel their position is secure and their skills are critical to the company, compared with 34% of individual contributors.
Those working in mid-sized organisations also tend to be less secure than others 54% of people working in companies with 101999 employees say they are unsure of their job security, compared with 31% of organisations with more than 2,500 employees.
Tech companies need to define clear career paths
Economic uncertainty is also affecting the career direction of young tech workers with nearly half (44%) saying the economic downturn has already forced them to change their career plans, job search and employment considerations. The situation is particularly worse for those in manager roles, with 48% of managers saying they are having to change their career plans.
Nearly a quarter (22%) of all young tech workers go as far as to say the downturn has forced them to completely change their career plans.
Again, the size of the company they work for appears to have an impact on the proportion of people rethinking their career paths. 48% of people within mid-sized organisations (101999 employees) are rethinking their career plans, compared with 44% of people in small organisations (10100 employees), and 38% of people in large enterprises (2,500+ employees).
HiBobs Young Generation in Tech research
These are the findings from HiBobs Young Generation in Tech research, which explores the attitudes, expectations and work experience of Australians aged between 20 and 30 working in tech. While layoffs are a clear worry, the research also uncovers widespread malcontent from young tech workers with employers that are failing to impress on a number of career, societal and work-life balance issues. One in five, for example, say their experience at work does not meet their expectations.
Why employees are unhappy with their employers
The young generation in tech are driven and highly invested in their growth and development. They are disappointed because only one in three (33%) have a clear career path mapped out with them by their company, and less than a quarter (24%) say they have access to a formal mentoring program. Emphasising the lack of learning abilities provided by companies, only 36% say their manager allows them to participate and learn new skills.
Less than half (39%) think their work-life balance is right and a quarter (25%) say they dislike their company for not being cutting-edge.
"On one hand, todays young tech workforce are worried about their job security, and their work experience is hindered because of lack of career development and learning opportunities," says Damien Andreasen, ANZ regional lead at HiBob.
"They've never been more conflicted, and as a result, are taking a moment to consider their career paths to protect themselves from layoffs," he says.
"There is now an urgent need for HR and business leaders to open or widen the lines of communications more with young employees. Key to that communication are the people managers within an organisation, and HR and business leaders should invest in their managers to help them manage the difficult situation many young tech workers find themselves in.
"The better managers handle the situation, the stronger the working culture will be at the organisation, and the less likely the best employees will be to leave."
Young employees value flexible work models, company success, and family benefits
The research also finds that when it comes to the workplace conditions employees value the most, the top three are the flexible work models (highlighted by 37%), the company's strength and financial security (highlighted by 30%) and family benefits like subsidised fertility treatments (also highlighted by 30%).
Flexible working is notably more important to those who aren't responsible for others within the organisation 43% of non-managers say flexible working is valuable to them compared to only 28% of people managers.
HiBobs research also finds that a third (33%) would be motivated to move to another company for a more flexible work style the biggest motivator after a better compensation package (34%). While many young people feel their job security is at risk, more than half (63%) of young tech workers are currently being approached at least once a month for a new role, which is also making them re-evaluate their career path.
HiBob's research comes off the back of wider research by Deloitte of people aged between 19 and 27, nearly half of which feel anxious or stressed either all or most of the time since the start of the pandemic. That same research also found that the pandemic inspired 70% of respondents to take positive actions to improve their own lives.