We’ve continued to adapt our daily lives this year, how we live and work in the post-pandemic era.   Covid-19 and Brexit have drastically altered the landscape of the UK job market.  Organisations of all shapes and sizes have had to transform in ways previously thought inconceivable, and workers have had to juggle the challenges of furlough, redundancy, remote and hybrid working. 

But what does the future hold for the job market?  The signs are positive and challenging once again.  On the plus side, reports envisage UK economic growth to return in Q2, presenting many opportunities in the world of work.  However, on the flip side, the job market is likely to remain unstable with labour/skills shortages, supply chain issues and people resigning to seek more fulfilling and flexible working opportunities.  Here, we gaze into the crystal ball to give you our predictions for 2022.

Pandemic epiphany – ‘The Great Resignation’

The pandemic has been the catalyst for an epiphany to many, forcing people to reconsider how they live their lives and their relationship with work. Pre-Covid, many of us were blinkered, placing a strong emphasis on work and possibly wrapped up in ‘hustle culture’ – working long hours with a capitalistic mindset.

However, 2020 onwards has seen a greater focus on mental health and wellbeing, flicking a switch in many people. Combined with lifestyle reassessments, this has led to more people searching for meaning outside of work.  Therefore, there has been a mass exodus of people leaving jobs, changing careers and/or working hours.  Industry bodies and the press have predicted waves of resignations to continue into 2022, citing reasons for not wanting to end remote-working and all the non-commuting, flexible benefits this brings, and salaries being out of kilter with expectations.  Pandemic redundancies forced many to take on jobs lower than their salary expectations, and this looks set to readjust to pre-pandemic expectations.

Put simply, employers will have to take this trend very seriously in 2022 and become better places to work with sought after benefits, facilities, and with remote, hybrid and flexible work options if they want to keep and attract employees.  Even in the physical onsite, temporary work setting, employers will have to think outside the box.  For example, we’ve seen great success with our ‘work your own hours’ campaign, where candidates work the hours they want.  This enables us to access a broader pool of people for our clients, such as parents, carers, students etc., creating a more diverse and sustainable workforce for the future.

Five to Four

Moves are being made around the globe to make the 4-day workweek the norm. 

Unilever has recently announced a 4-day week for employees in New Zealand and depending on its success, it may well be rolled out to global employees. In Australia, 27% of companies offer 4-day workweeks (Mercer’s 2021 Benefits Review), and even the US Congress has proposed the 32-Hour Workweek Act.  It would still allow for 40-hour weeks, but over-time would be payable over 32 hours.

Spain was the first country to trial a 4-day work week this year, and their government are looking to invest $60m into a 32-hour workweek programme with employers over three years to avoid a reduction in workers’ pay.

Those companies that have introduced a 4-day working week are reporting increased productivity, morale and even revenue.  So long as employers don’t squeeze five days of work into four, we predict this scheme taking off rapidly in the UK, as workers continue to chase a better work-life balance and employers seek to differentiate.

Struggling Covid-hit sectors

We’re in the worst labour shortage since 1997, with the gravest-hit sectors being farming, retail, hospitality, construction, transportation, and healthcare.  This looks like continuing, with these sectors finding it challenging to recruit in 2022.

The effects of the pandemic on our economy have sent seismic shock waves across the job market, destabilising it and deterring people from applying to work in the most stricken sectors, despite avoiding a winter lockdown (at the time of writing!)  The main reasons for this are exposure to Covid-19, reduced hours and redundancies in the event of future lockdowns.  We’ll likely see this continue for these sectors until some stability and confidence reappears, possibly by the second half of 2022.

As if the pandemic wasn’t bad enough, we were already speeding headfirst into a labour shortage with Brexit signed, sealed, and delivered in 2020.  We’re now a country starved of immigrants due to restrictions and red tape, who used to work and flourish in the sectors above.  Until government revise immigration laws and offer support to organisations and employers provide more attractive jobs (improved wages, facilities, and progression), the bleak picture for these sectors is set to continue.

All is not lost as we progress our plans to provide access routes to the UK job market and find innovative solutions to this problem – so, watch this space!

Isolation nation

Perhaps unwittingly, companies still adjusting to the pandemic are isolating new hires as they seek to embrace digitisation and explore other areas of their business.  As they trial new ways of working, product/service lines and experiment to survive, new employees often find their duties alter as the company evolves.  This can be unsettling, and workers become confused and frustrated. Therefore, people will likely seek alternative employment in the new year with clearly defined duties and responsibilities.

If your organisation is experiencing this, we offer a 90-Day Accelerator Programme, an independent coaching plan that supports new hires in the first three months of their role.  It seeks to help deal with these situations and embed the employee in the company quicker so that they start performing sooner, increasing retention rates and boosting the employer brand.

The digitisation of right to work (RTW) assessments

Whilst physical right to work checks are planned to return on 5 April 2022, there is intense lobbying behind the scenes by UK employers and authorising bodies to revert this to a digital process.  Although the checking process for EU nationals is digital, it’s not for British citizens. As remote and homeworking become the norm, the call for a digital right to work assessment grows. 

The digital process has also proved to be more robust, safer, and versatile than physical checks.  Employers should be prepared for RTW digital checks in 2022; we can help you with this process, as robust monitoring software is required.

Future of the job market round-up

Employers must continue to harness digitisation and cultivate a remote/hybrid work culture to attract and retain workers and head off the Great Resignation.  Nigh on impossible for some sectors where remote working is unfeasible, although if these organisations focus on safety and employee retention strategies, they can survive the pandemic.

Whilst we’re not in the clear yet, with a flexible and innovative approach, the future job market can be successfully navigated – benefiting both employers and workers.

If you’ve struggled to find the right staff or job this year, get in touch to see how we can help you in 2022: hello@rerecruitment.com

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