Employee Engagement

Employees remain confident about their long-term career prospects despite rising job uncertainty as a result of COVID-19, according to new research by Robert Half UK, the international recruitment consultancy.

Despite the latest employment update from the ONS highlighting that job vacancies had fallen to a record low in April, two fifths (42%) of workers said COVID-19 had not impacted their confidence in their career prospects. An additional 14% stated they were more positive about their career prospects now compared to before the pandemic, suggesting confidence in the UK’s post-lockdown recovery.

While the jobs market will likely become increasingly competitive as a result of rising levels of unemployment in the short term, over half of all respondents are currently contemplating a new career path. Almost a quarter (24%) of workers are actively searching for a new role, while an additional 28% are assessing their work-life balance and considering alternative options.

This is closely aligned with the prevailing mood across European and UAE workers, which is one of positivity and resilience.

  • 66% of survey respondents feel their longer-term career prospects are unaffected by COVID-19, although 53% remain concerned about losing their current job as a result of the pandemic in the short term.
  • Working from home is actually working, with the majority of employees surveyed not only working from home recently due to social distancing requirements (65%), but realizing their job offers a better work-life balance (57%) and is actually do-able from there (54%).
  • What’s more, 80% would like to continue working from home post-COVID because they can save time and money by avoiding a daily commute (57%) and feel more productive (49%).

‘The term “unprecedented times” has been used a lot over the last few months to describe the COVID-19 pandemic,’ said Matt Weston, Managing Director of Robert Half UK in announcing today’s survey results. ‘The implications of these “unprecedented times” for business owners and employees alike, however, are not only being felt now but will likely influence working practices and recruitment planning well into the future, given the strength of worker sentiment we’re seeing expressed here.’

Additional survey findings:

  • Robert Half’s European and UAE survey results mirror its recent US- and Brazil-based polls, which similarly saw 57% of US professionals and 55% of Brazilian professionals saying they have experienced a shift in their feelings toward work due to the pandemic.
  • Although 62% of those surveyed indicated that they are not worried about working in close proximity to their colleagues, European and UAE workers are also reassessing their personal space, post-COVID-19. 67% of those surveyed by Robert Half will refrain from shaking hands and an even larger number (74%) will be scheduling fewer in-person meetings moving forward.
  • Empathy abounds. 75% of survey respondents indicated they will be more prepared to support or cover for colleagues who need to be out of the office.
  • Workers expect employers to take action in response to shifting needs and attitudes. Not only does an overwhelming majority want permission to work from home more frequently post-COVID-19 (90%), they also want better in-office cleaning protocols (76%), have staggered work schedules (70%) and revised office layouts (59%).

Weston adds, ‘Whilst no-one knows precisely what the post-pandemic future will bring, the silver lining is that we’re all discovering new ways of working together. With many businesses re-opening their offices and beginning to navigate a path back to normality – or, at least, the next “new normal”, post-pandemic – the need for companies to  evolve their flexible working policies and practices; (re)assess employees’ core skills, competencies and behaviours in response to evolving business priorities; and foster a supportive and inclusive workplace culture in order to retain and attract the best talent has arguably never been more urgent.’

Key points again:

  • Despite rising uncertainty as a result of COVID-19, 24% of workers are actively searching for a new role at present
  • An additional 28% are reassessing their work-life balance and considering new career opportunities
  • Though the ‘war for talent’ has shifted to a ‘war for jobs’ in the last few months it remains vital that businesses are able to attract and retain key talent as they look to rebuild post-lockdown

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