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How has the pandemic changed the job market?

We are living very much in a post-Covid world, and the changes the pandemic wrought across the face of the globe are still too vast to be truly quantified and understood, from the way we look at public spaces; the way in which we make (or don’t make) physical contact with cashiers and customers; and even the way in which we work.


How has the pandemic changed the job market?

It is this last one to which we turn our attention – specifically, to the way that businesses recruit, the way that interviews are carried out, the volume of redundancies necessitated by the pandemic, and the advent of remote work.


How do businesses recruit post-Covid?

The traditional recruitment process – application, interview, offer – was necessarily disrupted due to the exigencies of a world in which face-to-face meetings were not desirable. At the height of the pandemic, a great amount of work was remote, and so remote interviews were conducted via platforms such as Zoom and candidates were hired or declined based on the strength of this interview.


While this was a workable solution during the worst days of the pandemic, it’s been viewed as something that should supplement – rather than replace – the traditional face-to-face interview. As such, Zoom interviews have been incorporated into the recruitment process for many employers, and candidates may find themselves undergoing two interviews – one virtual, and one physical.


In order to get to that virtual interview, however, it’s important that you dust off your CV and make sure it’s the best it can be. The best way to do this is with a professional CV rewrite, to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward.


The Great Resignation has led to a major power re-balance

In response to the pandemic and increasing job dissatisfaction, around 10% of the UK population planned on quitting their jobs in 2021, and in the US 6 million people quit in the same year. The reasons behind this were variable, but often boiled down to dissatisfaction with pay rises and being forced back into the office following Covid. Such was the ferocity of the so-called Great Resignation, in fact, that it was likened to a general strike.


Because of this sudden – and, to employers, often unexpected – willingness to throw in the towel on undesirable jobs, employers now find themselves faced with a more demanding, less compromising labour pool that isn’t afraid to play hardball.


What does this mean for jobseekers?


Simply put: it means they hold the cards now. It’s possible for candidates to make pay and scheduling demands that they might have previously not dared to, such as requesting hybrid or fully remote working schedules, more generous holiday and sick-pay packages, and higher remuneration for expenses incurred.


It also means that employers need to be more accommodating, especially when it comes to our next point…


Employee well-being is a much more important metric

Although employee well-being has always technically been of importance, it’s never been much of a priority to employers, who have historically been mostly concerned with productivity, profitability and employee retention.


The power re-balance in the employer-employee relationship has fundamentally altered this, however. Simply put: dissatisfied employers will quite simply quit and find a better job if their needs are not met. Their physical and mental well-being are, inevitably, priorities to them – and so they become priorities for any employer invested in low employee turnover.

So what makes for better employee well-being? There are no small number of factors to consider in this, but some of the most important are intra-employee relationships, the quality of the tools provided to employees so that they might perform their duties, the amount of sick pay offered and the duration of sick leave, and, increasingly, whether or not a position is hybrid or remote.


Hybrid is the new norm…

And speaking of hybrid roles: whether or not remote work was introduced by most businesses as a short-term necessity, the fact is that most employees got a taste for it, and even the most draconian attempts to force workers back into an office environment have met with fierce resistance, as evidenced by Apple and Tesla’s recent woes.


75% of hybrid and fully remote workers express a reluctance to return to a fully onsite work environment, and employers that attempt to force their employees back into the office and expect to lose as much as 39% of their workforce. It’s clear, then, that this is a hill many employers are not willing to die on – especially the incidental benefits to hybrid/remote workers such as lower commute, childcare, food and clothing costs and a boost to that aforementioned mental and physical wellbeing – and so many have become much more accommodating.


With this, we can expect to see the normalisation of hybrid positions for any position that does not require the physical presence of the worker.


…and it could worsen attempts at workplace equality

The benefits of hybrid and remote work are well documented and irrefutable, but that’s not to say that all employers are happy with allowing their employees to work from home, with many seeing it as evidence of laziness or unprofessionalism.


This perspective, rightly or wrongly, is influencing many companies’ upper management when it comes to promoting their staff. An estimated 76% of managers say that they are more likely to promote subordinates who are 100% onsite, as opposed to those who are hybrid or fully remote. Why does this affect equality? Because women – especially new or single mothers – are more likely to request to work remotely, and so would be negatively impacted by any promotional policy that prioritises onsite workers. This is something that all companies should review going forward, lest they be found to be using new paradigms to enforce old prejudices.


Redundancies (and turnover in general) continue to be high

Covid hit everybody’s pocketbooks hard, and this goes doubly for employers. With rising overheads and many employees able to work in only limited capacities compared to 2019, recruitment freezes and redundancies (whether voluntary or not) became commonplace during the pandemic.


While redundancies have slowed with the gradual reopening of retail and commercial spaces – and, in many cases, has become reversed – turnover can be expected to remain high, with a savvy labour force that knows its own value and that is able to easily resign and accept a new position elsewhere.


Conclusion

You don’t have to be an economic pundit to realise just how indelibly Covid has affected the labour market in the past few years, and indeed we can see that it has changed the way we live and work forever. At present, those changes overwhelmingly favour the employee – and they would do well to take advantage of those advantages to leverage a more comfortable and lucrative position for themselves.


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