top of page

Mind the gap

As career coaches, the majority of our clients come to us when they are fed up of feeling fed up. There is a tipping point of no return. For some clients, this can take up to ten years.

We exist in a VUCA world – volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. In uncertain times, it is human to play safe, not take a risk by moving jobs, removing employment rights. Covid-19 has magnified this. But as we adjust to the ‘new-normal’ of living with Covid-19, this inertia is likely to shift. Rapidly.

Covid-19 was a ‘curved ball’.

It compressed a decade’s change into just 1 year. Change that had been a long time coming. From a culture of presentism in the office, to working from home using Zoom and Teams. Most organisations ‘stepped up to the plate’ and quickly introduced new policies and implemented digital solutions.

Covid-19 impact

The Membership World Roundtable event on Tuesday 27 July, about returning to work Post-Covid and the move to hybrid working, had a stimulating and wide ranging discussion. A brief summary of some of the themes is below:


  • Commuting time saved.

  • Environmental benefits of less commuting.

  • Time for deep thinking about what people really want from work and what is really important for them in life.

  • Spotlight on who does childcare and household management.

  • Normalising discussion about mental health challenges e.g. loneliness and isolation.


  • Juggling home-schooling and work for working parents.

  • Communicating with staff working from home.

  • Mental health.

  • Trust and creating psychological safety with working remotely.

  • Keeping employees productive and performing.

  • Younger workers missing office life.

  • Longer working hours.

  • Computer fatigue – physical problems e.g. sore backs and eye strain.

  • Lost revenue from postponed events and conferences.

  • Longer working hours/day. A poll of 8000 employers and individuals by Hays in May 2021 found that 52 per cent reported working longer hours when working remotely than before Covid. Of

  • these, 25 per cent reported working more than 10 extra hours a week, while 41 per cent said they put in between five and 10 extra hours a week. 40 per cent worked during their annual leave over

  • the last 12 months, rising to 52 per cent for workers at mid-management level.

  • Easier for recruitment agents to interview candidates on-line.

  • Candidates have found it easier to speak with recruitment agents, working from home.

  • More job options for employees to work with employers further away from home.

Recruitment trends

The market is starting to awaken after period of hibernation.

Recruitment activity continued to rise sharply across the UK at the start of the third quarter, according to the latest KPMG and Recruitment and Employment Federation (REC), UK Report on Jobs survey. Permanent staff appointments and temp billings both rose at near-record rates, while growth of demand for staff hit a fresh high as Covid-19 restrictions eased further and economic activity continued to pick up.

However, the availability of candidates continued to decline rapidly in July, driven by concerns over job security due to the pandemic, a lack of European workers due to Brexit, and a generally low unemployment rate. As a result, pay pressures intensified, with starting salaries rising at the fastest rate in the survey history, and temp pay inflation also accelerating.

Robust demand for staff and the further rollback of pandemic restrictions led to a sharp increase in the number of people placed into permanent job roles in July 2021, with growth easing only slightly from June 2021’s all-time record. Temp billings meanwhile expanded at the quickest rate since June 1998.

Ending of the furlough scheme

The government’s furlough scheme comes to an end on 30 September 2021. What will happen? It is hard to predict, it is unknown territory.

The furlough scheme has been a lifeline for many organisations and individuals over the last 18 months.

Being paid to do nothing. What impact will this have on employee motivation and engagement ongoing? Could this result on high quality candidates being made redundant and available for an immediate start to facilitate growth again?

As experienced career strategy coaches, our clients come to us for help and support when they are in pain and ready for change:

  • Redundancy

  • Feeling unfulfilled at work

  • Approaching retirement and don’t want to retire

  • Wanting better work life balance

  • Ready for a change in career direction e.g. a portfolio career or to become self-employed

The psychological contract

For some managers, ‘out of sight has been out of mind’ and working from home has been an opportunity to avoid managing, something they were reluctant to do in the first place.

Other managers, have gone the extra mile to look after their employees’ well-being, will resulting increases in loyalty, productivity and performance.

With businesses starting to return to their offices and moving to hybrid working becoming the norm for many, this is a critical time for membership organisations.

What will be the impact on ‘The Psychological contract’ – this is the unspoken contract between an employer and employee about what the employee gives, time, energy and enthusiasm compared with what they receive – it feeling ‘fair’. It is difficult to quantify, but employers who are perceived not to have looked after their employees during Covid-19 are likely to see higher than average employee turnover.

The jungle drums of negative word of mouth are easier and faster via social media and Slack than around the water cooler.

How their employer treated them during Lockdown will have a massive unspoken impact on this.

  • Was there regular communication from managers and directors?

  • Did they get the tech set-up that they needed to work from home?

  • Was their employer empathetic about home schooling and work flexibility?

  • What support was offered about well-being e.g. an ergonomic office chair?

7 things that don’t happen for the psychological contract to be damaged

  • No career conversations about the future

  • Promises broken e.g. a pay rise or promotion not materialising

  • Increased workload over a period of time and receiving nothing in return

  • A role that doesn’t play to someone’s strengths

  • Favouritism/bias at work

  • Someone’s values (what is important) not being honoured at work

  • Poor internal communication so they feel left in the dark


This is a critical time for talent retention with recruitment rising, a shortage of candidates and the salaries of new roles increasing. September has traditionally been an active time for careers and job changes. What happens this year with furloughing ending at the end of September is anyone’s guess. The UK has never been in this situation.

Make sure that your membership organisation is on the ‘front’ foot not the ‘back’ foot and if any damage to the psychological contract has been done during the global pandemic, now is the time to rectify it, or risk losing key staff, just at a time when the green shoots of growth are starting to appear.

About us

If you want to find out more about ProAge, visit our website

Rachel Brushfield, ProAge, Age-Inclusion at Work LinkedIn: Web: E mail: M + 44 (0) 7973 911137


bottom of page