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What’s in store for the world of work in the months ahead?

By Carmena Wood, Managing Director, North West region

Back in May, in the midst of lockdown, we asked employers and their employees to share their sentiments about the world of work. Now, as government restrictions continue to ease, we surveyed over 13,000 professionals in July to discover their views as we move to the new era of work.

So, how have these views have changed and what’s in store for the future?

1. More employers don’t have all the skills they need

Our survey results show that there has been a decrease in the percentage of employers who say they have all the skills they need in their team to meet organisational objectives, to just three in ten. Employers need a mix of the right specialist and soft skills within their teams – the top three most sought-after specialist skills remain unchanged in the UK, with employers seeking managerial and leadership, operational and project and change management skillsets.

In terms of soft skills, just under three-fifths of employers need professionals with the ability to adopt change. As has been put under the spotlight since the start of the year, change is inevitable, and sometimes this will happen at pace. All of us should take the time to reflect on how we have adapted in recent months to great upheaval and consider how to take the lessons we have learned forward. You may find our guides around managing and embracing change a useful starter to this reflection.

2. Hiring is on the rise

In May, hiring activity had slowed down, with less than a third of employers saying they were actively recruiting. In July, hiring plans had accelerated, with 43% of employers now recruiting new staff. While hiring activity remains more widespread in the public sector than in the private sector, both sectors have seen a boost in recruitment plans since May.

As hiring increases, competition for some of the most in-demand skills listed above will become even greater. Employers should therefore think about the steps they need to take to secure the most sought-after professionals in the weeks and months ahead.

3. Views differ on the return to the workplace

We asked employers their expectations of their workforce’s working patterns in the coming months compared to employees’ preferred ways of working, and our results highlighted a mismatch in expectations. In the next three months, three-fifths of employers expect their teams to be working in a mix between the workplace and remotely, but only 36% of professionals showed a preference for this. Instead, a higher percentage (38%) favour working fully remotely in the next three months, something only a quarter of employers expect to happen.

This is a similar story when looking at ways of working in the next three to six months. Seven in ten employers expect their workforce to work in a mix between the workplace and remotely, compared to just over half of professionals who would prefer this way of working.

As can be seen, many organisations expect to take up ‘hybrid’ working practices in the months ahead, where some team members will be working from home and others in the workplace. It’s therefore important for employers and professionals to understand the challenges and opportunities that hybrid ways of working can bring – some of which are outlined in our guides for employers and employees

There is no doubt about it, the world of work will likely never return to the way it was pre-pandemic. Although uncertainty remains, there are signs of organisations looking ahead and taking steps to set themselves up for the future. Therefore, there is the opportunity for employers and employees alike to reflect on their triumphs and mistakes over the last few months, and apply the lessons learnt to be in the best position to succeed in the new era of work.

For further insights into how sentiments have changed during the Covid-19 pandemic, read our Career Insights Snapshot in full. You can visit our employer and employee hubs for guides, blogs and advice to help you to succeed in the new era of work.

About this author

Carmena joined Hays in 1986 working for the Accountancy and Finance team in Manchester. After eighteen months she seized the opportunity to open the Altrincham office and her career in leadership began. Following increasingly broader management roles across the North West region, Carmena was promoted to Regional Director in 1994 for the Greater Manchester area before changing direction to become a channel lead across the North to support and build the new Office Support business. In 2011 she was appointed to the role of multi specialism Director for Merseyside and Cheshire. Carmena was appointed to the UKI Board in October 2017 and promoted to Managing Director for the North West Region in June 2018.

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