Caught in a quarter-life crisis

Jun 25 2004 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Many of Britain’s 25-35-year-olds feel caught in a career trap, anxious to leave their jobs and do more fulfilling work, but trapped by student loans, mortgages and credit-card debt.

According to a new report by leadership development organisation Common Purpose, the implications for employers of this ‘quarter life crisis’ could be significant.

‘Searching for Something’, based on a survey of more than 1,000 high-flyers, found that many ambitious young people feel trapped at work, with almost half (48 per cent) saying that they feel stuck in their current jobs.

But while many harbour ambitions to opt out of playing the corporate game, the reality is that more than half (56 per cent) stay in jobs they hate because of debt.

More than eight out of ten of the 25-35-year-olds questioned believe that organisations risk losing their high-fliers because they do not address their life ambitions as well as their career ambitions

While three-quarters are happy with their lives in general, fewer than six out of ten (57 per cent) can say the same thing about their careers.

Almost nine out of ten (87 per cent) are seeking careers that fulfill their potential at work as well as add purpose to their lives, yet six out of ten (59 per cent) complain that their job does not meet their wider life ambitions.

Common complaints about work include not being stretched or challenged enough, having too little flexibility in career progression and having too few role models or colleagues to listen and offer advice.

As a result, well over half (57 per cent) of those surveyed said that they are currently looking for a new job, with one in four hope to move on within the next year.

Julia Middleton, chief executive of Common Purpose, said that the danger age when employers risk loosing their most talented employees was 30.

"These findings are a warning shot across the bows for employers,” she said. “Emerging leaders want to make a good living, but they also want to make a difference."

"Employers who invest time in providing opportunities for their fast trackers to explore how society works and get engaged in the wider world will hang on to their talent. Those who don’t and who force young managers to choose between work and making a difference won’t."