COVID-19 Disruptions Haven't Stopped Job Searches

In a labor study of job seekers published on March 12, people seeking to change jobs reported that the pandemic had little effect on their efforts to advance their careers. The study took a look at people who said they were in search of a promotion, change of job field or new opportunity at a different company. It took into account people looking to advance within the same company they already work for and to move to a different company. It did not look at self-employed individuals.

Pandemic Caused a Loss of Work Hours

Around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a loss of 255 million full-time employees in 2020. This information comes from the International Labour Organization. However, voluntary job changes and skill development are still at the top of the priority list for workers. In a study from IBM's Institute for Business Value, employees reported that one out of five of them voluntarily switched employers in 2020. About one out of every four employees plans to switch employers in 2021.

Who Is Most Likely to Seek a Change of Job

The members of Generation Z and the Millennial generation are most likely to change employers this year and accounted for the most employer changes in 2020. They are getting to be more vocal about what they want from their employers. These two generations feel that it is not enough for their employer to provide a paycheck and health benefits. They want more support, and they are willing to change jobs in order to get it. These people are even willing to risk unemployment in a rough economy to get what they want out of an employer.

What the Millennial Generation and Generation Z Workers Want

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed employee expectations and preferences related to their jobs and their employers. They expect that labor leaders, government authorities and employers should be more empathetic to the plight of workers. They want employers to take a more personalized approach to attracting new talent and keeping talented employees in the workplace. One managing partner at IBM's Center for Talent and Transformation said that employers need to provide tailored learning plans and career paths for employees who want to advance within an organization. Employers should also work on fostering an inclusive culture. The IBM study also found that employees want flexible workplace cultures and less bias in hiring. To that end, employers should do more with artificial intelligence when sorting through hundreds of applications for a job. Doing so could remove some of the implicit bias of hiring managers when it comes to ethnic-sounding names.

Why Young Employees Are More Willing to Take on Risk and Change

Young employees have never seen a work environment like that of their grandparents. A couple of generations ago, it was common for a person to work for the same employer for 30 or 40 years and retire comfortably with a guaranteed pension and healthcare. That's not the case anymore. Employers have cut back on those benefits, which makes employees more likely to jump around in order to get pay increases and benefits that will help them in the short-term. Some of the things young workers want the most include a better work/life balance and additional opportunities for career advancement. About 28% of employees said they will change jobs this year because of their desire for a more flexible work schedule. They also want better benefits for mental and physical health and well-being.

Ethics and Employer Behavior Also Matter

Employees are paying more attention to the ethics and values of their employers. More than 40% of the surveyed employees say that ethics and values matter to them. About 36% of them also said that they desire more learning opportunities. Employers agree that they want their employees to have better, relevant and modern skill sets. However, employers often don't want to pay for the employees to develop those skills that are required for the jobs. About 45% of employers said they can't find employees with the right skills to fill their current vacancies. However, 87% of workers said they already have the skills to do their jobs and the jobs for which they are applying. This skewed perception has triggered IBM to set up a program called SkillsBuild. It is a free online learning program to help professionals boost proficiency at a range of skills through online courses. According to a vice president at IBM, the pandemic and rapid technological advancements have caused widespread and big changes in most workplaces.

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