UK employees dissatisfied with career progress, blame poor line management

One-third of UK employees are dissatisfied with their career progress, according to a survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

The March 2016 edition of the Employee Outlook Survey: Focus on Skills and Careers gathered the views of more than 2,000 employees in the UK.

Many respondents stated they had not been guided into the kind of work that best suits their talents and interests, citing poor career advice in schools and poor line management in the workplace among the major contributing factors.

Twenty-nine per cent of those who expressed dissatisfaction with their progress said they believed they were in the wrong career and therefore were unable to demonstrate their true potential.

The gaps between the jobs people end up in, their skills, and unfulfilled potential, create an obstacle to job satisfaction, engagement, and productivity.

Of the respondents who were disappointed with their progress, 26% blamed poor career advice at school. Thirty-nine per cent blamed poor line management when they entered the workplace or at key points in their career. Lack of effective training programmes and negative office politics each were cited by 34% of those respondents. 

Workplace development programmes also have an important role to play in ensuring access to opportunity to candidates from financially disadvantaged backgrounds. Thirty-three per cent of respondents from this sector who were disappointed with their career progression cited not being able to afford to study for a qualification or develop new skills outside of work as a key factor.

The CIPD recommends that employers:

  • Prioritise line management development: Good line managers spot and nurture talent, identify and help build on workers’ strengths, and ensure that people feel they can fulfil their potential in the workplace. The benefits of building line management capability include higher levels of engagement, lower levels of absence and stress, and higher staff retention rates.
  • Include flexible workers: Ensure part-time and remote employees get the same opportunities for learning, development, and progression as their full-time, office-based colleagues.
  • Improve access to training: In the constantly changing world of work, it is in employers’ interest to invest in the skills of their workforce and keep their workers engaged. Not only are such opportunities crucial to progression, but new skills also ensure employees can adapt and make the most of the opportunities that arise. 

Samantha White ( is a CGMA Magazine senior editor.

Career motivations

The CIPD survey asked respondents to identify the three most important factors when thinking about their career or working life:

- Job satisfaction (69%)
- Work-life balance (69%)
- The people I work with (41%)
- Meaning/purpose (29%)
- Wealth (26%)
- Giving something back/serving the public (12%)
- Progression (12%)
- Fun (11%)
- Status (5%)
- Other (2%)
- Don’t know (2%)