The COVID-19 pandemic sped up the integration of many things in the working environment, from digitalisation to flexible working hours, from remote recruitment to virtual teambuilding. It also highlighted that although home office was productive for those who felt they could do their jobs from their homes, this was not true for everyone – and in fact, many people wanted to return to the workplace. 

Supporting this, a majority 93% of employers provided their employees with a clearly defined and safe way to return to the office, and while 44% required their employees to return to office full-time, 35% gave their employees the freedom of choice to return to their workplace or not. 

A majority 78% of job applicants were satisfied at the prospect of returning to their workplace, demonstrating that people do want to return to 'normality'. 22% said they were feeling neutral about going back to the office. 

This could come from the fact that 37% of our job applicants currently in employment were very confident about keeping their jobs for the next 6 months, with that figure at 33% who were very confident about keeping their role for the next 12 months. 

How has employer / employee communication developed during the pandemic? 

Over the course of the pandemic, employers had to communicate in different ways and on different topics to their employees, and this has, in some cases, led to issues for their workforce. 

For example, 69% of job applicants said their company facilitated working from home well and 58% offered clear directions on adapting to these new practises and processes, meaning they found these communications clear and easy to follow. 

And when it comes to communicating on the financial health and current company reality, the number of satisfied people stood at 58, with 27% feeling neutral – and 15% dissatisfied. This figure tallies with job applicants’ feelings about company communications on their vision of the future post lockdown/pandemic. 

Here, 55% were satisfied, with 23% feeling neutral, and 22% dissatisfied. This highlights the difficulties companies have found in being able to understand what the future will look like, explaining it to their workforce – and the impact the health crisis had on short, medium and long-term planning. 

Are job applicants applying for roles in their sector or in new sectors? 

Many industries felt the impact of the health crisis more than others. Tourism and aviation, for example, were hugely impacted and continue to be. Could this be one of the reasons 23% of job applicants in October and November were applying for any open role, in any sector? 

With 63% of applicants staying in their sector for their job search, we are not at a tipping point yet for people moving industry. However, that 8% of applicants also changed sector (and not role as well), could the world of work be moving to a more liquid structure, at least in terms of sector loyalty? 

Our Michael Page Saudi Arabia consultants can help you understand the benefits of bringing talent into your team from a new sector. And if you decide to follow the path to new hires from outside your sector, you may need to interview for skills – new and old. Feel free to get in touch with one of our experts today by following this link

The results based on our survey (October – November 2020) which generated 229 responses from job applicants in Saudi Arabia