How the labour market has changed during the Covid-19 pandemic – and how you can adapt


After a whirlwind start to 2020, it has now been a year since the global pandemic has sent shockwaves through the world. Working life is unlikely to return to how it was, whether the changes are for the better or worse, businesses have to adapt to the new conditions, tweaking their policies and way of operating to accommodate their employees in a safe and reassuring environment. Looking forward, there are a number of key ways in which the job market has changed post-coronavirus, and these changes look set to last. There’s no way of fully predicting the future, but businesses will benefit from remaining agile and taking a creative approach to problem-solving. Is your company working on its post-coronavirus hiring strategy? This article looks at how the labour market has changed since the pandemic hit a year ago, and how your company can best adapt to these changes.

Job market

As business conditions shift around the globe, the job market reflects these changes. Mass layoffs and businesses taking a cautious approach in 2020 led to a client-driven market in some industries, as opposed to a candidate-driven market. There were more candidates than there were jobs available.

However, since the summer of 2020 unemployment in the Netherlands has been dropping month after month, reaching 3.6% in January and February of 2021. Recruitment operations have gradually started again. Something that could explain this is the fact that production companies did not experience as devastating losses as other industries during the Coronavirus pandemic. Moreover, many businesses were forced into a rapid digital transformation since the lockdown measures very prolonged.

Unfortunately, some industries are still unable to run business as usual, like the hospitality, entertainment or tourism industry, and it will probably take the rest of 2021 for these to even get close to the way it used to be.

The new in-demand roles

At the moment, technical roles are in greater demand than they otherwise are. Companies are seeking candidates in the fields of engineering, IT and production operation, amongst others. Production has emerged relatively unscathed from the crisis, and companies within the industry are still hiring for key roles.

The beginning of 2021 also saw an increase in marketing and e-commerce jobs, especially in tech scale-ups. These companies are growing or expecting to grow this year, and their agile business models allow them to adjust fast. Remote hiring and working, flexible hours and flexible workplace were already present in these companies and they did not need to adjust to these changes like many others.

Contrary to expectations, there is no increase in demand for temporary employees. Companies are choosing to offer direct contracts and show prospective job candidates that they are willing to offer them stability and invest in their long-term growth.

Employees’ priorities have shifted

In March, most offices in Europe sent employees to work from home – something that once was seen as a privilege and something that senior managers were reluctant to allow. Concerns about reduced productivity and difficulty in keeping team morale alive have been largely proved unfounded because, for the past year, we’ve had no choice.

According to Adams research, 85% of candidates now say they don’t want to go back to work in an office full-time, but rather would like the chance to work from home a couple of days a week. Before the global pandemic, it was easier for employers to deny this request, but moving forward, it’s likely to be at the very top of new employee demands. Companies are reviewing their working-from-home policies and it seems like many businesses have already adjusted their flexible workplace benefits.

The pause in normal life has allowed employees to take stock of their happiness and job satisfaction. This has led many to realise that actually, they’re unhappy in their current position, and are looking to change jobs. However, the crisis has sent us into unprecedented times full of anxiety for many, and while some people have decided they are not satisfied in their current jobs, they are not necessarily looking to move at the moment, because they are keen to retain the stability of their current employment.  With this realisation made, however, it is safe to say that by the time companies can return to the new normal, many will seek out a new step in their career, as people’s priorities have shifted

Adapting to a new workplace

There’s no one correct way to prepare for the new normal- as the past year has proven, we can never be sure what the world will look like in the future. With that in mind, there are a number of actions that companies can take to try to minimize the impact of unpredicted radical changes:

  • Ensure consistent communication, whether that’s internally within your company, with external stakeholders, or with potential candidates.
  • Clarify new internal policies if your company has adapted the way it operates. A candidate might have a certain idea of your company culture from pre-Coronavirus times, so if you now expect people to work from home 80% of the time, for example, clearly communicating this is important.
  • Ensure the health and safety of candidates and employees by following sanitation guidelines, support and guidance in case of distress and anxiety due to changes caused by the changes at work.
  • Candidates may have health concerns and will be looking for reassurance that your company is following recommended sanitation guidelines. It will be a while before work-life returns to how it was before the Coronavirus, and candidates are looking for support and guidance from potential employers during this time

For businesses in the process of recruiting, it’s a chance to step up and prove strong leadership, responsibility, and dedication to ensuring a strong company culture.

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