How did the pandemic change candidate and employee expectations for a potential employer? 

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic significantly disrupted the way employees view work and how work should address their needs, wants, and expectations. This made the hiring process all the more complex and challenging. 

As a hiring manager, if you are experiencing this in your organization, know that you are not alone. 

Candidate and Employee Expectations: How Have They Changed?  

The pandemic years have had a vital and permanent impact on the future of work. Suddenly, hiring managers found themselves scrambling over how to develop appropriate recruitment strategies to attract and retain talented employees.   

In this light, how have employee expectations changed over the pandemic? How do hiring managers retain top talent and not lose them in the era of The Great Resignation?   

Research from IT and consulting firm Gartner reveals major trends that heavily impact employee experience and how they view and respond to the company culture. These trends further emphasize the changes that companies like yours need to make to meet the changing expectations of candidates and employees. 

Flexibility in the Workplace 

In this day and age, Hybrid Work is the name of the game, and undoubtedly, it is here to stay.   

A study from Pew Research Center shows that 54 percent of Americans would like to continue working from home even when the pandemic ends. Furthermore, the study also revealed that four out 10 jobs could seamlessly transition to remote work permanently, while other jobs may also be performed remotely with the help of technology. 

The data is also supported by medical science because remote work significantly decreases the risk of coronavirus transmission vis-a-vis an office setup. In addition, with the issue of COVID transmission kept at bay, more employees find greater focus in their jobs and are therefore more productive.   

Making flexibility a cornerstone of your company’s culture and a salient feature of the organization’s employee value proposition can thus help future-proof your organization. 

Improving Employee Health and Wellbeing 

What does your company offer for your staff’s health and well-being?   

Your organization’s top employees and potential candidates expect their dream company to have employee health and well-being at the top shelf of your organization’s priorities. Yet, despite calls to embrace these times as the “new normal,” the fact remains that these days, which are still clouded by uncertainty, call for a particular emphasis on health, mental well-being, and work-life balance. 

In its 12th Annual Employer-Sponsored Health & Wellbeing Survey, Fidelity Investments revealed the importance of organizations jumpstarting programs in support of employee mental and emotional health, boosting health and wellness in the workplace, work-life balance, and even financial health. 

On top of this, companies must put deeper thought into providing additional benefits for employees such as caregiving and child care support, paid time off, and even counseling sessions. This initiative includes padding employee well-being budgets. 

The availability and accessibility of these benefits are viewed by your employees and candidates alike as a positive development emanating from an organization willing to go the extra mile to take care of its staff. In turn, this boosts employee engagement and encourages high performers in the organization. 

An Empathic Manager-Mentor 

More than ever, managers play a very crucial yet ever-changing role in the organization. With a good number of employees opting for greater flexibility in the workplace via hybrid work and varying work schedules, the role of your managers has to evolve. 

The manager is now in charge of starting, developing, and maintaining relationships with your team. With the advent of remote work, managers play a critical role in perpetuating company culture, ensuring knowledge transfer, rapport building, and shaping employee connection and engagement with your organization. These evolving roles are also critical in maintaining company branding, increasing employer retention, and decreasing employee turnover.  

Research from McKinsey reveals that 70 percent of employees connect their sense of purpose with their work. Employees who find a purpose tend to be more productive and engaged. They also stay longer. With an empathic manager who also doubles as a mentor, you have the opportunity to shape your employees and help them develop and find their purpose at work. 

Shorter Work Weeks: The Latest Employee Value Proposition (EVP) 

The unique and abrupt changes that companies need to make due to the pandemic include optimizing costs in the face of rising inflation. How do you confront this inflation vis-a-vis increasing employee wages? 

According to insights from a 2021 Gartner survey, 37 percent of the 71 companies surveyed late last year are planning to factor in inflation on their compensation budgets and decision-making to retain top talent. However, only 13 percent of the companies surveyed are willing to increase employee pay to mitigate inflation. 

This means that most companies will not be capable of attracting new talent with compensation alone. This is risky as good compensation is a basic candidate expectation. The possible solution? Reduced working hours or a shorter work week. 

Considering this new EVP approach, you can thoroughly discuss roles and streamline processes to offer shorter work hours to your employees. In turn, employees will be able to get more free time to pursue other activities in support of a healthy work-life balance or mental well-being.  

Data Collection: Hearing What Employees Have to Say 

A top candidate expectation is that communication lines between employees and management are always open, giving your employees an open door and an active role in shaping company culture and ensuring that they are thriving in their current working environment. With data collection, your employees will know that they are being consulted and that their opinions matter to the management. 

This is especially true for Gen Z employees who finished their schooling during the pandemic. Studies show that Gen Z is actively looking for personal connections and mentorship in the workplace. In fact, research has shown that 63 percent of Gen Z employees desire in-person training and are actually weary of remote work.   

Pandemic Takeaways, Expectations, and the Ideal Workplace 

Despite these pandemic headwinds, your company may still take actionable and practical steps to retain top talent and attract new ones. 

This includes allowing your employees to be themselves. Nurture their individual strengths and uniqueness, and study foregoing some minor organizational orderliness procedures. This deliberate attempt at inclusivity greatly boosts your staff’s attitude towards work and the company. 

Is it time to rethink your company’s dress code to allow employees to be more comfortable or expressive of their individuality? Should the working hours be made more flexible? Is coming back to the office daily really the best policy for your employees? 

Your organization may also want to exert extra effort to be more liberal with praise. Shower productive employees with encouraging words to increase their engagement further. More importantly, always illustrate to your employees how a job well done adds more meaning and value to the company and themselves. 


If you are a hiring manager needing more help in attracting top talent or ensuring that your organization has the right systems to weather the unique challenges of staffing during the pandemic, consider collaborating with Fox Search Group. The company’s decades of excellent staff placements and satisfied partners emanate from its outstanding team of experts who have demonstrated the ability to deliver top talent. 

Enjoy real-time visibility and data-driven insights in hiring top talent with a dedicated and committed search team. With full knowledge and understanding of some key pandemic takeaways and candidate and employee expectations, collaborating with the Fox Search Group helps ensure your company continues to thrive amid these challenging times.