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Q4 2020: Job applicants using the crisis as an opportunity to improve skills sets
The Home Office Skills Revolution
Polish job applicants have taken the phrase “every crisis is an opportunity” and are applying it to their careers, especially when it comes to the skills that will help them reach their goals.
According to a recent study by Michael Page, the lockdown period prompted many people to reassess their skills and look to improve them to help with their job search, or to improve their skills directly related to their current employment.
So, what do hiring managers and team leaders need to look for when interviewing potential employees? We asked Polish applicants where they learned their new or improved skills – using internal company tools if working, or external tools such as Udemy.
35,7% used company tools compared to 31,8% who used external tools, showing there is a determination to upgrade their profile with or without help from their current employer.
We also asked applicants why they were learning these skills. In general, applicants are looking to help career prospects (58,9%), to improve their ability to innovate (58,9%), to boost their skills to either adapt to new tasks (54,8%), or to prepare for a specific future role (34,2%).
These reasons for improvement are all very personal, highlighting that potential employees are aware it is a competitive market for jobs and that their skills sets will help them stand out from the crowd. The survey also tells us that some 32,9% learnt skills to improve customer experience and satisfaction in their current company, with also 32,9% upskilling to help improve company products and delivery.
Video calls and remote communication – too much or too little?
With a large percentage of the working population still at home office, and in many cases for almost seven months now, we asked applicants how they felt about the level of and reasons for their employer communicating with them. Most applicants (70,1%) told us they had the right level of meetings since lockdown, with 29,9% holding the opposite view.
This shows us people value video calls and team communications, but only at an appropriate level, and for a specific purpose. Happily, our survey respondents said there was a balance behind the video meetings/calls, with 58,3% saying the higher quantity was related to controlling projects and production, and some 50,0% explaining the difference was related to reorganizing working practices.
The survey also highlights the great effort companies and individuals used to make home office a functioning reality, by using video to manage teams and colleagues (41,7%), and vitally, compensate for a lack of personal interaction (41,7%).
Staging the home office – how far did companies go?
Most companies tried to facilitate some of the physical aspects of home office, with over 67% in Poland providing employees with devices such as laptops, phones, headsets and other hardware to perform tasks with.
However, there is a jarring comparison with the other main element of home office – furniture and employees’ ability to work in a comfortable setting at home.
Here companies in Poland fell short, with only 7,5% providing tables, chairs, footstools and so on. However, this can give the forward-looking employer an area for an Employer Branding win, by offering to provide potential hires with office furniture to help differentiate from competitors.
Fun times and Finances – how did the COVID crisis impact job applicants?
The pandemic hit the world at the start of spring, with the ensuing lockdown continuing in most countries until June, just in time for the start of the summer holiday period. This presented an interesting question for employees and employers – to go on holiday or not to go?
An overwhelming majority of job applicants changed their travel plans for summer 2020 (80,9%) highlighting the disruption to ‘normal’ life. When we asked the respondents why, the results explain the nervousness about the situation, as a majority did not travel because of COVID (56,1%), or because of the impact of a local lockdown in their home country or destination (44,6%).
20,9% changed travel plans because of the financial impact of the pandemic meant they could no longer afford to travel. Surprisingly, only 20,3% changed travel plans due to the possibility of a quarantine on arrival or return, which could point to one unexpected benefit of home office as it keeps people socially distanced. Childcare issues were the least worry for Michael Page job applicants, with only 2,7% explaining this stopped their travel.
Talking about finances, again, a majority of Polands applicants (60,1%) said that the pandemic had affected their finances in one way or another – with a small percentage (2,7%) saying they earn more now. In terms of the reason for the impact, it comes from a reduction in salary and is directly related to flexible work (or reduced hours), at 30,9%. Many job applicants reduced their outgoings (25,5%) to cope with any potential future problems and also started saving more money during the crisis (20,9%).
If you would like to speak to one of our experts about any of the results from our survey, do not hesitate to get in touch, here. Our team of specialist recruiters are ready to help you understand how you can benefit from the next addition to your team.