The COVID-19 pandemic sped up the integration of many things in the working environment, from digitalisation to flexible working hours, from remote recruitment to virtual teambuilding. It also highlighted that although home office was productive for those who felt they could do their jobs from their homes, this was not true for everyone – and in fact, many people wanted to return to the workplace. 

Supporting this, a majority 88% of job applicants said their employers provided them with a clearly defined and safe way to return to the office, and as many as 38% also had the freedom of choice from their employers to return to their workplace or continue working remotely.  

17% of job applicants were asked to return to their workplace for between 1-4 days per week, comparing with 18% who were asked to return full time and 25% who were given options on their return. 

In general, 59% of job applicants were satisfied at the prospect of returning to their workplace while 38% were neutral, with only 3% dissatisfied, highlighting that people do want to return to ‘normality’, even if remote, or home office, work is possible. 

This could come from the fact that 29% of our job applicants currently in employment were worried or felt neutral about keeping their jobs for the next 6 months, with that figure rising to 32% who were worried or felt neutral about keeping their role for the next 12 months. However, 66% were confident they would keep their role for 6 months, with 64% confident that the same could be said for the next 12 months. 

How has employer-employee communication developed during the pandemic? 

Over the course of the pandemic, employers had to communicate in different ways and on different topics to their employees, and this has, in some cases, led to issues for their workforce. 

For example, 76% of job applicants said their company facilitated working from home well and 68% were given clear directions on these new practises and processes, meaning they found these communications clear and easy to follow. 

And, when it comes to communicating on the financial health and current company reality, the number of satisfied people slightly drops to 63%, with 19% feeling neutral – and 18% dissatisfied. This figure tallies with job applicants’ feelings about company communications on their vision of the future post lockdown/pandemic. 

Here, 58% were satisfied, with 20% feeling neutral, and 22% dissatisfied. This highlights the difficulties companies have found in being able to understand what the future will look like, explaining it to their workforce – and the impact the health crisis had on short, medium and long-term planning. 

Are job applicants applying for roles in their sector or in new sectors? 

Many industries felt the impact of the health crisis more than others. Tourism and aviation, for example, were hugely impacted and continue to be. Could this be one of the reasons 30% of job applicants in October and November 2020 were applying for any open role, in any sector? 

With 42% of applicants staying in their sector for their job search, we are not at a tipping point yet for people moving industry. However, that 22% of applicants also changed sector (but not role), could the world of work be moving to a more liquid structure, at least in terms of sector loyalty? 

Our Michael Page Africa consultants can help you understand the benefits of bringing talent into your team from a new sector. And if you decide to follow the path to new hires from outside your sector, you may need to interview for skills – new and old. You can get in touch with our offices in Johannesburg, Casablanca and Port Louis to speak with one of our experts today.

Results are based on responses from 759 job applicants based across Africa to a survey we ran in October – November 2020. 

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