The pandemic and the war in Ukraine have brought about the most significant change in the labour market in decades. How employers and employees can still reconcile their needs
If you are looking for a new employee or job today, the market looks different. The reality of jobs and the needs of employees and employers have shifted. I have been in recruitment and executive search for 21 years, but I can say that this is the biggest change I have ever seen in the market.
What are the signs of these changes? The questions from candidates have started to sound like this:
- Which workplace model is it – 3 times 2 or 2 times 3? – i.e. 3 or 2 days per week of remote work/work from home? A very common question in cities like Bucharest, Cluj, Timișoara, Brașov, Sibiu, Iași etc., where traffic significantly affects the quality of life. And the question is also raised in leadership positions. The remote team management model is widely accepted today.
- What is the corporate culture like? What is important to them? Especially in the case of applicants for management positions, the culture of the company, the people with first and last names who work there, what they do, how they do it and how they define themselves are all part of the job description. They do their own research on what the people working in the company stand for, if they come across GDPR. Social networking platforms provide a lot of information that falls into the category of public information.
- What does performance mean in this company?
- What does the company want to achieve with its products/services?
And employers are looking for a lot in candidates’ backgrounds – facts, actions, initiatives, results, performance in targeted projects, etc. But more than ever, they are looking to understand how they see their future, what possibilities they define when they talk about their future, how adaptable they are to a dynamic environment where changes are not announced, how much autonomy and self-discipline they have in their work. In other words, we no longer have static jobs, where a boss watches his team do their work, where we cultivate a culture of penalties as a form of ‘encouragement’ to perform. In today’s dynamic, we need relationships built on trust, on accountability for our own statements and actions, and on self-discipline for our own agenda and the results we deliver. And taking risks is part of the new reality – we try to minimize them, but we have learned to accept them. The pandemic and the war in Ukraine have shown us that scenarios we never thought of become a reality from one day to the next – a reality in which we have to act, work and achieve results.
What are the trends, also validated by recent studies?
- Employees will prioritize factors that allow a relationship to develop in the current job, while employers still emphasize the transactional factors (let’s not respond to the desire to build a relationship with the offer to give 100 RON extra per month).
- The ecosystem of hybrid jobs will grow and by 2025 we will have a liquid, dispersed and digitally active workforce. Work won’t be about where you go, but what you do. (WEF, 2021)
- Essentially, the future workplace will be anywhere, anytime, with the traditional office remaining a hub of social interaction, collaboration and innovation, a tool to foster performance, different experiences and well-being/mental health.
- Workplaces are refocusing, human-centred working models and their needs are becoming more important (e.g. flexible working hours for parents) than office-centred models.
- Companies are looking for solutions and working models that fit their business – with a strong hybrid component, with an emphasis on remote work/work from home and digital as tools used. (e.g. call center operators can work from home and office, but operator roles in cable, coffee machine, chocolate and fridge production will still be found in factories).
What can we do?
1. Pay attention to organizational culture, even if jobs become hybrid, don’t ignore how we experience the company even from a remote employee status. The main predictor in massive company departures in the US, dubbed the “Great Resignation”, is toxic culture, shows a study published in MIT Management Review in January 2022.
2. Hire people over 45 – they are post-revolutionary educated, “digital immigrants”, eager to adapt – especially when they are not judged for what they don’t know – flexible in their schedule, many with independent children.
3. Keep in mind that parents with young children are more likely to take on remote jobs because they are better able to cover both roles (see McKinsey, What employees are saying about the future of remote work, [Was die Mitarbeiter über die Zukunft der Telearbeit sagen], 2021).
4. Understand the employee from the perspective of their fears but also their hopes. The focus is on flexibility in daily work, work-life balance, a competitive financial package and well-being. For those who work from home, the main fear is losing connection and collaboration with colleagues, and for those who work from the office, the fear is the likelihood of getting sick. (see McKinsey, What employees are saying about the future of remote work, 2021)
Adaptation is one of the great human capacities. Let’s make the most of it! Let’s not try to cling to the past, to how we did things before. Let’s not go back there! The changes are profound, the quality of life has increased, we have streamlined processes, gained new ways of interacting, new digital tools, we have clear goals – personal and professional, we are contributing to a sustainable economy and delivering results. Let’s enjoy this new reality!
The article was published on Economedia – economical platform and can be found here.