Looking back: How 2020 changed the job market
The consequences of Covid-19 for the world’s labor market were considerable, with some estimates putting half of the global workforce at risk. In addition to job losses and hiring slowdowns or freezes, many unemployed people were forced to put their job search on hold. Similarly, even people who had jobs found themselves reducing working hours or temporarily not working at all to adapt to drastically changed living situations.
In the EU, Covid directly and indirectly led to a sharp decrease in employment: the share of employed people fell from 58.3 percent of the total population to 56.8 percent, just between the last quarter of 2019 and the second quarter of 2020.
At the same time, some industries and businesses survived, thrived, and kept hiring at their normal pace, if not faster.
So in many ways, 2020 was a year of paradoxes and contrasts. The situation seemed bleak and mental health concerns surged, yet Relocate Magazine reports that people’s happiness at work jumped to a global average of 72 percent, compared to 64 percent before the pandemic.
This could be due to any number of reasons, from people feeling more empowered at work to an increased sense of contentment in their work environment. That, in turn, could be the result of an increase in workers’ feeling that employers care about them, which jumped from 60 to 72 percent.
The sudden happiness spike could also have something to do with a welcome end to commutes, and a sudden abundance of flexibility. At the same time, there was an increase, from 58 to 61 percent, of people saying they feel anxious about their work. Additionally, it became clear quite quickly that the pandemic affected different demographics very unevenly.
After such a mixed bag of a year, where does the job market stand and what are some of the most notable hiring trends?
Current workplace and hiring trends
2020 was the year of the remote everything. From recruiting and interviewing to onboarding and yes, even layoffs, the office well and truly moved online. While that comes with a good amount of perks, the adjustment is taking time. And the flexibility of remote work cannot fully compensate for the disruptive effects of the pandemic. Here are some key workplace findings and hiring trends we inherited from a tumultuous year.
- You’ve heard it a thousand times, you’ll hear it a thousand more. Remote work isn’t going anywhere. Monster reports that the top keyword search from candidates on their site is still “work from home.” Remote flexibility is the second biggest policy change employers reported in 2020.
- Managing a remote workforce is no longer optional. All evidence so far suggests that many employers may stay at least partially remote even post-pandemic. 80 percent would consider a permanent work-from-home policy.
- Workers are on the same page. Employees believe Covid marks the end of full-time office work and are looking to blend their work and home lives.
- The hiring process is evolving with the times. Some businesses are adding more interview stages to make up for the lack of in-person communication.
- Speaking of communication, soft skills in general are more important than ever before in the remote workplace and hiring process.
- There is a new focus on employee mental health, which contributes to more engaged, productive teams. HRDirector found that employee engagement rose 2 percent globally between January and July 2020, due to flexible schedules, safer work environments, and more autonomy.
- Keeping their job is a top priority for 91 percent of workers. IT workers are the exception: they look for flexibility above all else.
- Virtual onboarding has become a crucial hurdle for many employers to clear: Companies with effective onboarding strategies have nearly twice the profits of those without.
In 2020, the recruitment business became all about one word: adaptability. Personal development became the fastest-growing skill for recruiters. No wonder—there was a lot to keep up with. Here are some numbers to keep in mind as you navigate the changing recruitment landscape.
- 81 percent of talent professionals believe virtual recruiting will continue post-Covid. 70 percent think it will be the new standard.
- Even though unemployment went through the roof because of the pandemic, 87 percent of employers find themselves struggling to fill positions.
- Candidates’ expectations are shifting. Data from Monster shows that 58 percent of candidates feel their job search expectations have changed during the pandemic, with safety being one of the top priorities.
- The technology sector is ever the outlier: In the UK, Tech Nation reports that tech job vacancies bounced back in the second half of 2020. By one estimate, the EU needs an additional one million IT professionals in Europe.
- 92 percent of job seekers told Monster they think now is a good time to look into the gig economy.
- 77 percent of companies say their talent strategies are more focused on workforce agility than they’ve ever been.
- 75 percent of employers believe that workers’ expectations of them are increasing. 63 percent say the talent experience is more important now than it was before the pandemic.
Talent mobility & international relocation
Major travel restrictions and disruptions, lockdowns, social distancing—on paper, all of this sounds like it would have stopped any and all international relocations. And 2020 did its worst. But it couldn’t stop the movement of people.
Global immigration platform and service provider Jobbatical, for instance, grew talent relocations by more than a whopping 365 percent. This indicates that the movement of highly sought-after talent, even though impacted by restrictions, continued in an effort to bridge the still-present global skills gap.
As it was before the pandemic, tech talent in particular is still scarce and companies are looking far afield for skilled workers. In the UK, the number of open roles in IT spiked over the summer of 2020 and across Europe, many companies continued to offer relocation support for new international hires.
Countries like Estonia, seeking to attract digital nomads, made moves to snatch up the globally mobile, location-independent workforce. Estonia’s Digital Nomad Visa and other similar visa schemes are a sign of governments adapting to the realities of a world of work that is constantly in flux.
Diversity and inclusion in hiring
One piece of good news from 2020 that may have got lost in a sea of terrible news: There was a new record for the largest number of women CEOs at Fortune 500 companies. Although there’s a visible gender and ethnicity gap in the way Covid affected people in the workplace, all is not lost.
According to Monster research, 86 percent of candidates strongly value diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. And for most people, that may well go beyond just tough talk: 62 percent of people admitted they might turn down a job offer if the company culture didn’t support a diverse workforce.
Human capital leaders agree that they need a strong diversity and inclusion program. Eighty percent say it’s either extremely or very important and most report already having one in place, while 27 percent say they are planning on it.
What’s next? Predictions for the job market in 2021
After 2020 threw the world into turmoil, making predictions about anything at all feels risky, if not downright silly. Plenty of people made confident predictions about hiring trends for 2020 and we all know how that ended up. But there has to be something we can say—if not with certainty, then with at least a tolerable degree of uncertainty—about where the hiring world is going in 2021.
We’ve already seen the extent to which remote work has altered the very fabric of the global work culture. By all accounts, this will continue to happen. But what else can we realistically expect?
According to ManpowerGroup, hiring outlooks around the world are showing signs of recovery. Employers are rediscovering some of their optimism but staying cautious for the long term: 13 percent don’t expect to see pre-pandemic hiring levels before July 2021. And McKinsey predicts that hard-hit sectors—including arts, entertainment, recreation, hotel, restaurants—may not recover until 2025.
When it comes to employee wellbeing, companies will be taking a closer look and offering solid support to their stressed workers to form a healthier, more productive workforce. Workforce health and retention will also be affected by companies’ willingness to reskill their workers. Most human capital and C-suite leaders believe employers have the responsibility to reskill workers.
One thing is almost inevitable: Whether you’re actively hiring or on a freeze, 2021 will continue to challenge everyone.
If you’re hiring globally in the pandemic and beyond, Jobbatical is here to guide you every step of the way. Check out how our global mobility software can make your life easier today.