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Greenville Business Magazine

Five Signs Young Professional Employees Aren’t Happy at Work... and How to Fix It

Apr 25, 2023 09:57AM ● By Kamber Parker

Wonderful news! Your efforts to hire the best college graduates last summer paid off because you created a company culture that made young professionals send in their resumes on Indeed or through that easy-to-use hiring portal you created on your website.

One year later, however, those same young professionals seem to have hit a collective wall in your company. Are you about to lose all of those fresh minds to workplace ennui? How do you fix their lack of satisfaction and maybe not make the same mistakes with your next batch of new hires?

They are not engaged. To help get young professionals get engaged and excited, you formed a “fun committee.” This is the group that planned outside-of-the-office events that were meant as a bonding experience. While not mandatory, you saw this as a way to empower young professionals by giving them a leadership assignment from the word go. 

The bonus was these events would look great on social media, which in turn would attract more young professionals. However, the events soon turned boring as your senior staff avoided them and your young professionals stopped attending as a result. The problem? They were never in the room during the planning!

The solution: You or your management team needs to be involved and take part in these events in the planning stages. You need to be proactive in bridging the gap. A bar crawl on a Sunday afternoon likely won’t appeal to your employees with children, but no one told that fact to your “fun committee.” The lesson is don’t isolate young professionals and expect them to show up. 

They stop asking questions. A lot of Gen Z workers were raised to ask questions when it comes to protecting their well-being. To many older workers, those often sound like “demands,” and that creates conflict in the workplace. The result is younger workers don’t feel like they are heard, so they stop voicing their thoughts, or even worse – trying. 

The solution: You need to ask them questions about what they want from work and life.  Don’t assume you know exactly what they need. You might be surprised by the responses you get. 

They ghost the office. In a world where more people work remotely and even more prefer it, it’s tough for young professionals to feel part of a culture or team when they only see other faces via a Zoom call. However, a warning sign that your young professional is not digging their job is when they intentionally avoid the office or any type of office comradery. They might never turn a camera on during those web calls anymore, or they don’t engage in office happy hours – whether they are virtual or in-person.

The solution: Find the root of the problem individually. Maybe they have an issue with a particular co-worker, and are trying to avoid them. Perhaps they are stressed about something else? Maybe they are not sure how to dress at the office? The only way you will know is if you a) Ask, b) Address, and c) Act.

Their output has gone down. Many workers get bored, so this isn’t something exclusive to young professionals. This can be noticed by simple mistakes on assignments, taking more time than usual, and not trying to improve a project. 

The solution: This is two-fold. One is to create clear and concise project goals. This allows your employees to better learn expectations and see the roadmap to success right in front of them. The second is to start giving them more challenging tasks. It’s possible they are unmotivated by doing the same old thing, and by giving them ownership over a more challenging task can go far in the workplace. Their response will say a lot about their outlook on the job.

They don’t feel included in company culture. Company culture goes further than “fun committees” and after-work happy hours. How does leadership interact with employees? How safe do employees feel talking to their managers about work-related issues that impact their work? What’s the work/life balance like? Do they feel supported, listened to, or valued? Without a solid, healthy company culture in place, it’s easy for employees to feel overwhelmed and become withdrawn. 

The solution:  Cultivate a strong company culture where all employees feel safe, respected, and truly part of the bigger picture of the company should be a priority.

In a post-pandemic hybrid work world, it’s not always easy to spot the signs of a disengaged young professional employee right away. However, if you know what to look for, your company will be years ahead of your industry peers. Use this list as a tool for your team to spot, address, and come to a solution when you spot these signs in your workspace.

Kamber Parker is founder of The YoPro Know, which promotes success in the workplace by being a bridge between ambitious young professionals and progressive businesses that want to recruit, engage and retain them.  Learn more at