Times have changed, and young professionals need to be at the forefront of company’s minds


As the Young Professionals Network grows, it’s becoming more and more evident to ERP Today that young professionals need spaces where they can build a network of peers, escape the pressure of their desks, and ask candid questions to industry-experts who have risen through the ranks and know what they’re talking about.

As things stand, there are multiple layers of challenges that under 35s are facing in their workplaces, which go much deeper than quick fixes like pay-rises or company wellbeing days. If we really want to address some of the reasons why enterprise tech is currently facing such drastic skills shortages and an increasing number of “quiet quitters”, the sector needs to invest more holistically in young professionals, creating spaces where they can be themselves, build relationships, and connect with people from across the sector who have carved out careers in different shapes and sizes.

Lindsey Rowe, head of purpose programmes and sustainability at SAP, spoke to this eloquently at the YPN Spring Social in April, where young professionals from all the major companies in ERP gathered to hear her words of wisdom. She reinforced the importance of individuality and agency for young professionals, explaining that success will look different to everybody, and that no matter how meticulously we try to curate our career trajectories, we should prepare for, and embrace, the unexpected. While some under 35s in the room didn’t have a career-plan, others had a five-year plan, and others even a 30-year plan, Lindsey emphasised how the isolation a lot of under 35s experience when working in ERP can exacerbate anxieties around whether or not they are “on track” or “where they should be” in life. In truth, there’s no such thing, and as Lindsey said, the most important thing that young professionals can do is be honest with themselves, work out what’s important to them and be brave enough to make decisions from there, taking risks where necessary.

In this context, young professionals having time and space together becomes even more essential, as they can build genuine relationships and share the load of these anxieties, rather than only ever interacting with each other through the competitive (and sometimes misleading) lens of LinkedIn and other social media. For young professionals to really be able to take agency in their careers, they also need to have visibility into how other companies and roles are structured so that they can be aware of alternative ways of working. While the thought of this might make some line managers shudder, would companies not prefer to have a group of engaged young professionals who are there because it’s the right place for them, rather than because it’s the first job vacancy they saw?

What’s more, companies need to invest more in recognising the efforts of the young professionals they employ, beyond promotions and positive feedback, ensuring under 35s feel appreciated and celebrated. In an industry where fiscal quarters fly by and teams have to move quickly from one project to the next, it can be hard to find time to properly congratulate employees along the way. Even when companies manage to do so, this recognition is rarely at an industry-wide scale. It is for this reason that ERP Today is hosting the inaugural Young Professionals Awards this November at The Cutty Sark, London, for which nominations are now open: ypnawards.com

Work cultures are changing, and studies show that millennials and Gen Z expect different things from their employers, understanding jobs as a relationship they enter into, rather than a ladder they have a duty to climb. The age of working at the same company for 50 years before retiring with a good pension has long gone, and it’s unsurprising that, in times of global upheaval, pandemics, climate change and cost-of-living crises, the appeal of ‘security and stability’ no longer feels so convincing. Not only do under 35s care about the future of the world, in turn, they also care about their employers’ mission and purpose, as they want to belong to a workplace which aligns with their values.

This is why ERP Today is thrilled to be hosting Dr Zara Nanu, CEO of Gapsquare for our YPN Summer Social, on Thursday 15th June 2023 in London between 6.30 – 8.30pm (tickets and info here: bit.ly/ypn-summersocial). As a fierce advocate for workplace equality, gender and ethnicity fair pay, equal pay and wider pay gaps, and having founded a company which is actively developing the tools companies need to plan for a fairer future of work, ERP Today could not think of a better source of inspiration for young professionals to learn from.

Since COVID-19, the world of business is navigating a complex set of political, economic and social shifts which impact how people work and who companies hire. But it’s clear that the first step to addressing some of the skills-shortages enterprise tech is experiencing is through offering young professionals careers and lifestyles in which they feel valued, connected, and have opportunities to explore their full potentials. ERP Today is committed to developing the Young Professionals Network as a space and community where under 35s can do just that.

Nominate a young professional or a mentor for the Young Professionals Awards here: ypnawards.com, and sign up for the YPN Summer Social here: bit.ly/ypn-summersocial. If you’d like to sponsor the network, please email ypn@erp.today