Early Careers Network

It’s not all about the money! Our recommendations for achieving sustainable professional development

In 2022 the AGI Early Careers Network (ECN) in collaboration with the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) carried out a survey to establish what early career professionals value most from their employers (other than pay), and how these values change as careers develop.

The survey results, published in January 2024, revealed some interesting results, including the high relative importance of office location for early career professionals and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on perspectives, across all career stages. You can read the full report including the results HERE.

Following publication of the report, ECN committee members Emma Chown and Tom Perks have reflected on the results and produced a series of recommendations for both early career professionals and employers.  The recommendations for early career professionals, based on both the survey results and our own career experiences, are centred around maintaining a healthy working environment and tailoring professional development.  Our employer recommendations are all about how they can facilitate these, for example through adapting company policies, staff culture and facilities.

For early career professionals

  • Focus on your learning and development to build the knowledge, skills and experience that aligns with your career aspirations and will support your career progression. This can include both internal opportunities through your employer, and external opportunities like volunteering to develop your ‘softer’ skills. Keep up with technological developments and innovations in the sector. It all counts towards your (CPD).
  • Have open and regular conversations with your employer about your wellbeing. Be honest with your employer if your wellbeing is being negatively impacted by work (or other reasons) so they can provide support and make adjustments as required.
  • If possible, go into the office regularly to network, collaborate and socialise with colleagues. If you think in-person training will benefit you, ask for it, or an in-person office social will boost morale, suggest it.
  • Find a work / life balance that works for you. This will vary from individual to individual but might include setting and communicating work hours, being comfortable saying ‘no’, asking for help where required, and using your lunch break to take a step away from your desk.

For employers

  • Invest in learning and development opportunities for all of your staff – Engage employees to curate a tailored learning and development plan. Encourage them to log their CPD and support them with gaining chartership.
  • Ensure employee wellbeing is embedded into your company culture/decision making and that support is tailored to employees. Encourage frank and open conversations. It may take early career professionals time to settle into the working environment and some will find it more challenging than others; we recommend that you provide regular, informal opportunities to discuss their well-being.
  • Develop a hybrid working policy that provides flexibility to employees whilst ensuring that your early career professionals have access to the help and support they need. For example, encourage line managers to provide in-person contact time and support where requested by employees.
  • Ensure that employees have access to a physical space to network, socialise and collaborate. Encourage employees to use the space. This could include providing incentives such as complimentary fresh healthy food and drink, free lunch time yoga sessions, subsidised transport options and a quality workspace well fitted out with all the amenities employees need.
  • Try to recognise and be considerate of the importance of job security for employees. Provide permanent or longer-term contracts wherever possible and provide as much notice as possible ahead of contract end dates.

Do the key points of the report resonate with you? What are your reflections on the results and recommendations? Would you add any additional recommendations? We’re keen to hear your thoughts, and will be holding an interactive webinar on Monday 22 July 2024 at 12:30pm. Find out more and register your place.