Do employees still want to climb the corporate ladder?

In a desperate bid to retreat from the corporate grind outside of work hours, the workforce is drawing a firm line between their jobs and personal lives

Most companies have pretty much adjusted to the new era of work, where attaining an optimal work-life balance can be found towards the top of employee priority lists. 

In a desperate bid to retreat from the corporate grind outside of typical work hours, the workforce is drawing a firm line between their jobs and personal lives.

So, what does this shift mean for career progression?

If research from Visier is anything to go by, workers are increasingly reluctant to assume management positions due to the additional workload it might entail. 

The software developer spoke to 1,000 full-time employees in the US about their ambitions inside and outside the workplace, and discovered less than two in five (38%) are interested in becoming a people manager at their current organisation. The remainder would prefer to stay as ‘individual contributors’. 

“Business leaders might have a succession problem on their hands,” reads Visier’s report. “The quiet ambition trend is indeed a real threat to an organisation’s corporate pipeline—and employers need to prepare now for the leadership gap that’s coming their way.”

Succession problem looming for employers

Companies may now be familiar with the skills gap, but the leadership gap is a newer problem. 

And, when broken down by gender, the situation appears even more alarming. Less than half (44%) of men are interested in becoming people managers, and that figure drops to just 32% for women. 

Similarly, only 36% of individual contributors are interested in becoming a people manager at a different organisation, indicating it’s not the business that makes a difference, but rather the prospect of the role and associated responsibilities.

When asked why they don’t want to become people managers, 91% of respondents cite some sort of barrier, from expecting increased stress and pressure (40%) to simply being satisfied with their current roles (37%).

Other reasons given include:

  • Prospect of working longer/more hours: 39%
  • Lack of interest in leadership responsibilities: 30%
  • Personal commitments or interests outside of work they want to prioritise: 28%
  • Administrative aspects of a managerial role: 20%
  • Lack of confidence in their ability to lead and manage a team effectively: 17%


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