Adapt to Survive
Current signs point to rebound in 2021

The economic outlook Despite a turbulent past 12 months, most companies have reason for hope in 2021. McKinsey's Global Economic Conditions Outlook, published monthly, closed 2020 with a growing optimism among executives about a vaccine-fueled turnaround. Just 20% expected the global economy to worsen in the coming 6 months, and well over half (61%) said it will improve.2 The IMF also predicts growth in 2021 across all major markets after the 2020 downturn.3 Most economists are predicting not just a recovery, but an unprecedented "snap-back," where spending returns quickly as the threat from the pandemic recedes.

Remote working The so-called "quickening" is nowhere more true than the dramatic shift from in-office to remote work. One week in March, companies sent their employees home - and 10 months later, many still have not recalled them to work in person.

Virtual recruiting When COVID-19 caused worldwide shutdowns in March 2020, many thought internships and graduate recruitment programs would be cancelled (and, to be fair, some organizations did rescind internship offers). But the majority of companies decided against cutting off this critical source of next-generation talent and quickly found ways to maintain their programs in a virtual format.

Talent insecurity Due to COVID-19, millennials and Gen Z have signaled a drop in confidence in their financial position, says Deloitte's MillZ Mood Index.13

That said, other indices predict this feeling will likely be short lived as the economy opens up and social distancing measures are relaxed. Edelman's Trust Barometer (which does not target the younger generations but looks at confidence across consumers more broadly) reports confidence about the future is rising again after a sharp decline last year.

Key Takeaways

No matter whether in a hard-hit industry or a high-flying niche, employer branding remains as important as ever

Universum's COVID-19 Pulse Survey, which surveyed over 350 talent leaders worldwide, found a nearly threefold increase in those who said there were "unlimited possibilities" for remote work. And those who said there was no possibility of remote work at their companies dropped from 29% to 1% pre-COVID-19 versus post-COVID-19.

. The findings are important because so much time is spent ensuring the technology can support productive distanced working that companies lose track of the need for different managing styles and work processes.

. But the majority of companies decided against cutting off this critical source of next-generation talent and quickly found ways to maintain their programs in a virtual format.

In 2021, "diversity" also takes on a bigger meaning. Racial and ethnic diversity are still key priorities for most leading employers (83% told Universum this is a high priority in our recent EB Now study), but the shift to virtual recruiting and virtual work opens up opportunities for more diverse areas of study, geography, and work experience as well.

A survey by Gartner found the top priority for HR leaders was building critical skills and competencies, scoring 40% higher than "employee experience.

Organizations with effective upskilling training programs are much more likely to say they have a strong culture, higher productivity, and greater levels of innovation.

"Upskilling and reskilling will be absolutely necessary to remain employable and attractive in the labor market because, due to the acceleration of technology, people are losing around 40% of their skills every three years. It means after less than 10 years, you are obsolete on the skills side."

Despite this, Universum's research shows students are increasingly prioritizing factors like financial security and job stability - and unlike in years past, these employer traits are highly correlated with factors like "embracing new technology" and "innovation."

About the Publisher

Published by Universum

Universum, part of the StepStone Group, is a global thought leader in Employer Branding. With 30 years of valuable experience in the field of employer branding, we have established ourselves in 60 markets globally, and our diverse workforce is physically present in 20 countries. We are uniquely positioned through our talent surveys to deliver key insights to recruiters about what future talent is looking for in a company. Our data-led, human and meaningful output has attracted 1,700 clients, including many Fortune 500 companies, as well as global media partners that publish our annual rankings and trend reports.

Publish Date

October 2021