The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic at the start of 2020 had a huge impact on the global job market. Every business had to alter how it operated, or even close entirely. Millions of workers were suddenly confined to their homes to prevent the spread of the virus, changing how they worked overnight.
Vast amounts of people were furloughed, or lost their jobs, and businesses stopped hiring new staff in an attempt to limit their expenditures in an uncertain world.
As global vaccination campaigns began in 2021, the situation has thankfully improved. But the job market has changed, irreversibly according to many in the recruitment industry. Employees have new perspectives, and new priorities. What has changed? What has stayed consistent? And what can businesses and job seekers do to find the right fit for them in the post-Covid job market.
The most immediate and obvious change after Covid is the rise in fully-remote working. During lockdown, everyone had to work from home if they could, proving that millions of jobs could be done from anywhere, not just in an office.
Now that we are able to go back to work, many workers are choosing remote positions as they allow more control over their lives, giving a better work/life balance, saving time and money commuting, and being able to spend more time with loved ones at home.
Others are opting for flexible working, spending some days working remotely, and others in the office with the rest of the team. This gives workers freedom to choose their work schedule and pattern in a way that benefits them. Most workers simply did not have this option before Covid, and don’t want to return to a 9-5 in the office.
Having seen the benefits of remote and flexible working, many workers are now less concerned with their salary, and more interested in what other perks, benefits, and incentives a business can offer them.
Wellness initiatives, team-building days and events, additional training, reimbursement for commuting, these are increasingly attractive benefits that companies are offering in order to get top talent. In a survey last year, over a quarter of European workers surveyed said they would take a reduced salary for a position with flexi-time.
Over half of those same respondents said they were more productive when working from home, so it’s not just about comfort, there are real benefits for businesses in allowing remote working post-pandemic, as many people do their best work at home.
Company culture has alway been important, and is one of the main factors in why people change jobs, or why they love where they work. During the pandemic, with so many people working remotely, many workers felt isolated, lonely, or disconnected from the culture which is so vital in keeping up morale.
During lockdown, companies that didn’t invest in their culture through virtual events, chats, or other initiatives felt the strain far more than those who did. A company’s culture can help keep the team motivated when things are difficult, and can make a difference between someone working harder, or giving up and looking for a new start somewhere else.
Now, workers are looking for companies that go the extra mile with culture, as it’s become clear just how much of a difference it can really make, both on an individual and a company-wide level. Culture is made from everyone who engages with it, adds to it, helps make it better.
Post-pandemic, workers and businesses alike feel like they have some catching up to do. After a year and a half of stagnant growth, some businesses are trying to supercharge their teams, services, and revenue in order to offset losses during the pandemic.
There’s been a long time to reconsider how things can be done, with some sectors emerging out of the pandemic completely transformed and revitalised.
It’s not just about re-hiring to get back to where they were before Covid, businesses are looking to expand, to go above and beyond where they were, with new staff and new ideas.
While this is a positive step, it’s important that businesses don’t try to grow too fast. Growth needs to be planned, prepared for, and executed at a stable rate. Rapid expansion can worry existing team members, and new managers or senior leaders can take things in unexpected directions.
Business should include their team in decisions, communicate where the company is heading, and keep them up to date on how things are progressing. This is key to ensuring everyone feels confident about the future, and their place in it.
It is perhaps still too early to tell whether there is truly a ‘new normal’ in the international labour market, with so many different cultures, working standards, and priorities in flux, with some businesses and governments looking to get back to ‘businesses’ as usual as fast as possible, and others moving forward with new lessons learned.
With many workers having reassessed their priorities, and many businesses having adapted their targets, strategies, and overall goals, it remains to be seen whether the changes we have seen in the last two years will persist into the future or not.