Candidates Optimistic for 2021

  • 85% of Candidates are optimistic for the year ahead in 2021

  • 61% of Candidates said lockdown was ‘hard, but I got by’

  • Candidates all recognised the many advantages of WFH

According to a survey conducted in February 2021 by Harrison Dear Sales there is a refreshing and maybe somewhat surprising positivity for the year ahead amongst candidates questioned.

Growing Optimism

85.4% of Candidates questioned said that they were optimistic about the year ahead. But is this surge of positivity misplaced as we all still suffer the consequences of fighting the ongoing pandemic?

As the vaccine roll out brings the much needed light at the end of the tunnel, our respondents showed an admirable resilience looking back at the last 9 months. Although no one found it easy the majority managed to get by despite the fact that 58.5% of them said they had earned less during the period.

Nikki Shack, Partner at Harrison Dear Sales commented, “Our candidates are showing real resilience and an ability to adapt to the changing job market and I feel excited for the year to come in 2021.”

Jobs Market Hopes

This welcome optimism may be a result in part of the resurgence in the jobs market in the last few weeks across multiple business sectors. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) reported recently that their research showed that more than half of UK employers intend to recruit staff in the next three months and about 56% of firms surveyed planned to hire in the first three months of 2021. They said that it was the first positive sign for employment prospects it had seen in a year. This ties in with our own recruitment survey conducted at the end of 2020 which found broadly similar results. Read our blog post.

And with the Government announcing its roadmap out of lockdown and the stay at home rule being lifted on 29 March, we are poised to see parts of the economy reopen and people return to work.

WFH – here to stay?

With 93% of candidates working in their offices only 1 day a week, there has been a dramatic shift in the way we work with working from home now the norm. This huge experiment in home working has resulted in a seismic shift in work patterns and it seems likely we may never go back to the pre-pandemic world of work.

This new way of working has literally changed peoples’ lives with our candidates overwhelming reporting that they felt happier with their new way of life. They mentioned the many advantages they felt working from home including:

  • Better work/life balance, more time with the family
  • No commute
  • Saves money
  • Saves our own time and that of our clients; we both work more efficiently
  • More flexibility in working hours, empowered to manage our own day
  • Helps us to find the time to home school our children
  • Colleagues have become more tolerant and nicer to each other
  • Give us time to take a breath and reassess our next role

So What’s Missing?

Our Candidates reported that they miss seeing their clients and their colleagues in person and it seems that the need for this social interaction will be a key driver for people’s decision to go into the office when the rules allow.

A significant percentage of those questioned missed the office environment. Why is working in an office environment seen as beneficial? It would seem that an office provides access to personal contact and companionship. It offers resources not available at home – the opportunity to learn from others, a familiar routine and maybe just the feeling of a professional environment.

Interesting if not surprising is that no one reported missing seeing their superiors face to face!

Although firms are currently happy to have the majority of their staff working remotely, it seems unlikely that many will continue with a 100% remote workforce post pandemic. The most likely outcome is that most companies will have a flexible work model, introducing more work options like job shares, compressed hours and flexible start and finish times. This will result in a mix of workers in the office environment and working from home to ensure maximum productivity and at the same time, job satisfaction.

Although our Candidates appreciated the benefits of home working, there were some negative aspects. Some said that they felt pressure to be available at all times and most that they had noticed an increase in the hours they worked. These new types of work stress meant that mental health and resilience were skills they needed to develop.

Did Employers provide support?

Our survey showed that although many employers were giving the right levels of support 39% felt their employer hadn’t supported them sufficiently.

The CIPD survey mentioned above recommends four areas of focus for company leaders:

  • Support hybrid workers through good people management – Design work processes that suit all locations, concentrating particularly on knowledge-sharing, coordination of work and team relationships to encourage performance and innovation
  • Ensure fairness of opportunity – Provide ongoing access to development and career conversations for all employees
  • Put health and wellbeing front and centre – Ensure that employees are not overworking and remind them about the importance of maintaining their physical and mental wellbeing and taking regular breaks, fresh air and exercise
  • Offer a range of broader flexible working options – Go beyond remote working and look at introducing wider flexible working options like job shares, compressed hours and flexible start and finish times. Support flexibility from the start by recruiting flexibly and making the right to request Flexible Working a day one right.

As we approach what we hope will be the end of the last lockdown, there is no doubt that the coming weeks and months are going to challenge company leaders, management and individual workers as companies need to pivot to thrive in the post pandemic world.