How to be an attractive employer post-pandemic

Strategies to attract and retain top talent in a post-pandemic era.

How to be an attractive employer post-pandemic? Your general strategy should be to attract the right competencies – and keep them. But what is needed, and what do modern workers expect from their manager and company post-pandemic? We have spoken with Managing Partner in Compass Human Resources Norway, Bjørn Erik Graff.

The labour market thrives in Norway and Denmark, while Sweden and Finland grapple with high unemployment

We have experienced a historically good labour market in Norway and Denmark, especially in the last six months of 2021.

More new jobs have been created than ever before, and unemployment is lower than before the pandemic. In Norway and Denmark, the labour market is tighter than pre-pandemic, and workers have more possibilities in the labour market now. For example, we can mention that FINN (Norway’s largest job portal) had an increase of 30 per cent of advertised positions compared with 2019, which had previously been a record year.

In Sweden and Finland, unemployment is still high. The table below shows that the unemployment rate is twice as high as in the neighboring countries Denmark and Norway. Historically unemployment has also been higher in Finland and Sweden. There are increased differences between industries and employee groups post-pandemic. Technology and digitisation expertise is in great demand in all markets, while e-commerce, automatisation and robotisation forcing workers out the door in retail and industry sectors. The pandemic has accelerated the development. Based on the unemployment rate macro indicator, we are back to square one comparable to pre-pandemic in Sweden and Finland while the labour market in Denmark and Norway is heated, says Graff.


2021 (Q4) 2022 (Q1) 2023 (Q4)
Sweden 7.3% 7.4% 7.5%
Denmark 2.5% 3.5% 4.3%
Finland 6.7% 8.4% 7.2%
Norway 3.4% 4.1% 4.0%

Table showing unemployment in % and expected unemployment in% 2021-2023.
Source: www.tradingeconomics.com

Mapping employees’ expectations and concerns

McKinsey & Company has conducted a survey (2021) that shows what expectations and concerns employees have about flexibility, competitive conditions and work-life balance in the aftermath of the pandemic. Here are the main findings:

  • Post-pandemic, most workers want to work from home 3 days a week
  • More than 25 % of employees will consider changing jobs if the employer demands a full return to the workplace
  • Mental health is a high priority for employees
  • The world faces a double-disruption scenario with task automation and covid-19


What are you going to do as a leader?

These findings clearly show that expectations of flexibility, trust between manager and employee, balance between work and private life and the focus on mental health has changed forever. The era we are in post-pandemic sets clear requirements for companies for policy, support and facilitation in these areas. Managers must clearly communicate how the company facilitates flexibility, competitive conditions, and that they are concerned about the well-being of their employees. This will be of great importance to create attractiveness for new skills and help to retain the necessary skills in the organisation. Lack of clarity and dialogue creates unnecessary anxiety among employees. The McKinsey study points out that anxiety among workers has increased during the pandemic. Further anxiety leads to a decrease in work performance, reduced job satisfaction and it has a negative impact on interpersonal relationships with colleagues, Graff says.

If you as a manager are to succeed in developing and retaining the competencies in your company, make sure you have a good dialogue with your employees!

It is therefore a paradox that one in three respondents in a survey from Simployer (2021) says that they have not been followed up by their leader during the pandemic. Then you can expect valuable competencies to disappear out the door. It is a paradox in a world where the competition is continuously getting tougher for specialists and skilled leaders, Graff continues.

Diversity pays off

Graff advises companies to be brave – and think new. With double disruption where working methods and routines are changing, the digitisation-wave washes over us, and the pandemic has had a great impact on our professional life. We must be forward-thinking both in the recruitment processes and in our efforts to retain key competencies in the company. It also means thinking about diversity. Diversity in the form of remote workers. Diverse solutions based on individual employees’ needs.

Last but not least, diversity in leadership. More than ever, organisations need managers with openness to new virtual leadership-models and arenas for interaction between colleagues.

Recruiting more women to management positions has been a stated goal for more than 10 years. Progress is still slow in all Nordic countries. One might think that this trend will finally accelerate post-pandemic.

The composition of management teams across gender, geography, cultures and disciplines should be at the forefront of all organisations. Surveys show that it pays off both for shareholders and for employees’ satisfaction and loyalty to the company, says Graff.

Part 1: The transformed labour market and the fight for the candidates

Read part one in our series about the transformed labour market here

Read more about modern recruitment

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