Report: People feel stuck professionally and personally

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Many don’t think they have opportunities to grow their careers and are too overwhelmed to make changes, the report from Oracle and Workplace Intelligence said.

Frustrated, overworked man.

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Although many people think humans are still critical to career development, 82% believe robots can support their goals better than a human by giving unbiased recommendations, quickly answering career questions or finding new jobs that fit their skills, a new study finds.

Further, 55% are more likely to stay with a company that uses artificial intelligence to support career growth, according to the study by Oracle and Workplace Intelligence, an HR research and advisory firm.

SEE: Wellness at work: How to support your team’s mental health (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

However, people still have a critical role to play in career development because they are better at providing support by offering advice based on personal experience, identifying strengths and weaknesses and looking beyond a resume to recommend roles that fit personalities, the study found.

Overall, respondents said they felt stuck in their personal and professional lives and are ready to regain control of their futures. They also said their companies should be doing more to listen to the needs of their employees, according to the report.

 “The past year has changed how we work including where we work and, for a lot of people, who we work for. While there have been a lot of challenges for both employees and employers, this has been an opportunity to change the workplace for the better,” said Dan Schawbel, managing partner, Workplace Intelligence, in a statement.

The data revealed that investment in skills and career development is now a key differentiator for employers because it helps employees feel like they have control over their personal and professional lives, Schwabel added. “Businesses that invest in their employees and help them find opportunities will reap the benefits of a productive, engaged workforce.”

The global workforce feels lonely, disconnected, out of control

More than a year in lockdown and the continued uncertainty due to the pandemic has left many workers in emotional turmoil, feeling like their lives and careers are out of control. Some 80% of study respondents reported being negatively impacted by the last year, with many struggling financially (29%), suffering from declining mental health (28%), lacking career motivation (25%) and feeling disconnected from their own lives (23%).

For more than half (62%), 2021 was the most stressful year at work ever, the study said. More than half (52%) of people struggled with mental health at work more in 2021 than in 2020.

SEE: Leadership tips: How to stay focused and craft a happier worldview (TechRepublic)

Further, the number of people who feel little to no control over their personal and professional lives doubled since the start of the pandemic. People noted they have lost control over their futures (43%), personal lives (46%), careers (41%) and relationships (39%), the report said.

Many reported feeling trapped—the study also revealed that 76% of respondents said they feel stuck in their personal lives, feel anxious about their futures (31%), trapped in the same routines (27%) and lonelier than ever before (26%).

People are motivated to make changes, but face big challenges

Despite struggles over the last year, people around the world said they are eager to make changes in their professional lives, the report said.

An overwhelming majority (93%) said they used the past year to reflect on their lives, while 88% said the meaning of success has changed for them since the pandemic, with work-life balance (42%), mental health (37%) and workplace flexibility (33%) now top priorities.

Seventy-five percent of respondents said they feel stuck professionally and believe they don’t have growth opportunities to progress their careers (25%) and are too overwhelmed to make any changes (22%), according to the report.

Feeling stuck in their careers has spilled over, negatively impacting people’s personal lives (70%) as well by adding extra stress and anxiety (40%), contributing to feeling stuck personally (29%) and taking focus away from their personal lives (27%).

Yet, while 83% of respondents say they are ready to make a change, 76% are facing major obstacles. The biggest obstacles include financial instability (22%), not knowing what career change makes sense for them (20%), not feeling confident enough to make a change (20%) and seeing no growth opportunities internally (20%).

Going into 2022, professional development is top of mind with many willing to give up key benefits such as vacation time (52%), monetary bonuses (51%), and even part of their salaries (43%) for more career opportunities.

At the same time, however, 85% of the global workforce reported not feeling satisfied with their employers’ support. They are looking for organizations to provide more learning and skills development (34%), money (31%) and opportunities for new roles within their companies (30%).

Employees globally want new skills and are turning to technology for help

To retain and grow top talent amid changing workplace dynamics, employers need to pay attention to employee needs more than ever before and leverage technology to provide better support, the report advised.

The report also found that:

  • 85% of people want technology to help define their futures by identifying skills they need to develop (36%), recommending ways to learn new skills (36%) and providing the next steps to progress toward career goals (32%).
  • 75% said they would make life changes based on robot recommendations.

“The last year set a new course for the future of work. Surprisingly, amongst the stress, anxiety and loneliness of the global pandemic, employees found their voice, became more empowered and are now speaking up for what they want,” said Yvette Cameron, senior vice president, Oracle Cloud HCM, in a statement.

The companies said the research findings are based on a survey of C-suite, HR leaders, managers and full-time employees. It was conducted in the U.S., the UK, UAE, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Brazil, India, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Australia between July 27 and Aug. 17, 2021.

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