Almost three quarters (68%) of employees across Northern Ireland say that the last year has made them reassess their career, according to a new survey released by NIJobs.com.
The fallout from Covid-19 alongside its potential long-term impact has created a significant shift in attitude towards careers and returning to the workplace.
The survey analysed data from over 1200 people and covered a range of themes including upskilling, hybrid working, job motivation factors and job seeking over the next year.
The survey demonstrated that despite an uncertain year, more than half of respondents intend to retrain or upskill to further career progression. 68% also said that covid has changed their career priorities, with flexible working now more important to them than job security. Interestingly, the desire for a more flexible work model has not replaced the two top motivators to change job with career progression in first spot followed by salary increase in second.
Sam McIlveen, General Manager at NIJobs.com comments on the insight: “The last year has impacted livelihoods, the economy and many local business sectors. It comes as no surprise that the pandemic has made people reassess priorities in getting the right work/ life balance as we emerge out of lockdown. Jobseekers are considering how and where they work and what they want from a potential employer. Our recent Job Report revealed a surge in hiring across NI as restrictions lifted. Just under half (49%) of our respondents said they would move jobs if the right role came along. That is clearly an interest in moving jobs that has been suppressed by the pandemic. Employers should re-examine their employment offerings, making their job specifications and company information easily digestible and accessible, so they don’t miss out on hiring the right candidate.”
Many businesses are finalising their return to workplace policies and the survey demonstrates a noticeable shift in how employees want to work, with 71% expecting employers to offer remote working or a hybrid model as an option.
“There is a new mindset from employees who have experienced the benefits of working from home over the last 15 months. It gives greater flexibility, can improve mental health, and can even save a lot of hard earned money on the daily commute, which all work hand in hand to increase overall job satisfaction.
“The demand is there for a new approach to the office environment so businesses must take this into consideration as they begin to implement a return to work policy. Flexible working can boost business benefits by helping to improve staff retention and also attract the best talent for any new roles. It’s important to remember that job specifications employers would have advertised at the start of 2020 may no longer attract talent given this shift in working preferences.”
The local recruitment sector has performed well in recent months with over 60% of NIJobs.com employment categories recording their highest number of vacancies to date. There have been more jobs advertised in the first six months of 2021 than in the whole of last year. The pandemic initially predicted mass redundancies but now there are record numbers of vacancies. As the economy recovers further there is pent up demand for people who want to move jobs or change careers.
Sam adds: “If we look at the job market currently there are high numbers of vacancies offering many well paid, highly skilled roles across sectors. When furlough ends shortly, we will have a clearer idea of what is likely to happen in the coming months, but the market will still be fluid with plenty of movement.
“The survey shows that many employees plan to upskill before they assess their next step on the career ladder. This may also help address the current skills shortage that we are seeing in some sectors. This, coupled with the demand for flexible working means that now is an opportune time for employers get their offering just right so they can attract the perfect candidate to join their company.”