Vacancies in the UK are at their highest level since the pandemic began

5 mins

Vacancies in the UK are at their highest level since the pandemic began. But ...

By Holly Simpson


Vacancies in the UK are at their highest level since the pandemic began. But what did 2020 teach us about why we move on to new opportunities within PPC, Paid Social and SEO?  

In the UK at least, with the reopening of hospitality, many of us returning to offices part-time, and a steady vaccine rollout, it has been possible to find some sense of normality and maybe even put 2020 behind us?! 

The job market seems to be no different; vacancies currently stand at their highest-level pre-pandemic, and this is slowly driving the unemployment rate down. Unfortunately, that’s not to say every industry has shown such a direct correlation between vacancies and employment levels. But overall, the digital job market is flourishing and is saturated with new roles.  

Therefore, with so many options, it’s important to us that potential employers have a finger on the pulse as to what makes opportunities stand out in the first place. So, what did 2020 teach us about what is important in our careers? 

What are the main reasons people move to new roles? 

Our 2021 Salary Survey found the top 3 reasons respondents moved roles were down to: Lack of ‘Progression Opportunities’, ‘Poor Work Environment and Culture’ and a ‘New Career Challenge’. Out of our respondents, 16% cited ‘Redundancy/ Dismissal’ as a reason for looking in 2020. 

70% of respondents noted that ‘Salary and Bonus’ was a ‘Very Important’ factor in their job search. This did dip slightly below the 2020 Report, potentially due to nervousness around the lockdown, but this remained a crucial factor irrespective of salary satisfaction. 

Salary & benefits

‘Culture’ and ‘Progression’ also rank
ed high, with 67% and 49% of respondents respectively, ranking this also as ‘Very Important’. 67% also ranked ‘Benefits’ as being ‘Important’ in their job search. 

So overall, progression, work environment, and culture still dictate our job search. In 2020 career challenges outweighed salary as a motivation for looking but we still rank this as a ‘Very Important’ decision-making factor. But with so many of us looking to benefits and culture as key aspects of the job search it’s important to think about what’s changed here, post- covid. 

Benefits and Culture – Post Covid 

Flexible working: As you can expect, the number of respondents who have 'Flexible Working' benefits surged from 16% last year to 60% in the 2021 findings. There is still a 20% disparity between the number of people who get this benefit vs. the number of people who want it. The tricky aspect of this is it’s impossible to find a solution that caters to absolutely everyone.  

Therefore, companies would do well to keep their flexible working well... as flexible as possible. Particularly as in London, where many our candidates and clients are from, the population was set to decline this year for the first time since 1988. Plus, London has a super international and diverse workforce who may have benefitted from being able to work remotely for some of the time from their home countries during lockdown. Therefore, companies may benefit from looking at more flexible and/or remote working options. Overall, this dramatic change signals a clear departure from pre-pandemic ways of working (one of the very few silver linings of Covid!).  

Unlimited Leave: The number of people receiving ‘Unlimited Annual Leave’ vs the number of people who want it, is the only other contentious aspect of our benefits survey. Currently, below 10% receive this benefit but 20% would love to have it. As we’ve started to re-wire our understanding of what the 40-hour week looks like, with more flexible and remote working, who knows if this could be something we see a rise in over the new few years? 

Salary & benefits

g company culture post-covid: Long gone are the days of work culture being defined by what happens in the office and what you do with your colleagues after work. As employees have moved to increasingly flexible and individual ways of working, it is important employers rethink what culture looks like. Amy Wright (Sphere's Marketing Manager) spoke to the Founder and CEO of Picnic to discuss this in our podcast, for more thoughts on this. 

A huge emphasis has also been placed on Mental Health Awareness in workplace culture, especially in the absence of a physical office space to leave your work behind at! During Covid we saw our understanding of mental health shift “beyond just Yoga Classes.” Uzma Afridi, Head of Careers at Nabs said for The Drum: 

“Proper wellbeing support is ensuring that your staff are supported with empathy and compassion and that their individual needs are met. It’s also about recognizing people’s needs within the D, E&I space, ensuring that minoritized groups are treated with equity. 

We have published ideas around what we have seen agencies do to support Mental Health during the pandemic. Companies can also look to examples such as Havas’ award winning Equalise Initiative. In 2021 this evolved beyond a physical wellness space, to being able to launch a ‘Parents Edition’ to support parents and children wittopics such as ‘remote schooling’ and ‘conversations around mental health with young children.’ 

So, what are your main motivations around looking for a new role?  What are the main factors you look at when choosing a new role? And how else do you think workplace benefits and culture will/ could change? 

Sphere Digital Recruitment 2022
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