ClearanceJobs surveyed cleared employees on work and job searching in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The feedback sheds light on the thoughts behind the masks and the video conference screens. Both employers and employees should take note and be encouraged.

Impact of COVID-19 on Current Job

While 12% of employees surveyed said they have had their hours cut at work, only 4% have actually been laid off or furloughed due to the pandemic. What’s more encouraging is the 84% who have not been impacted at all. The numbers continue to prove national security workforce resilience in the face of the pandemic. The world may feel like it is floundering, but national security threats continue, contracts are being awarded, and the the government needs cleared professionals to take on critical missions.

Job Safety at work in the Midst of COVID-19 Pandemic

Cleared work has not always been known for its office ambiance or flexibility, and telework options have always been a battle. However, in the midst of a global pandemic, federal agencies have responded with safety in mind and employee health. Agencies have made it clear that they want to take care of their people. When employees were surveyed about how their company handled their safety, 21% felt neutral, 24% were happy, and 46% were very happy. Only 4% were unhappy, and 4% said they were very unhappy.

Job Changes During a Pandemic

The cleared job market continues to march forward. Virtual onboarding has become the norm. While life is uncertain, the defense industry’s strength has promoted marginal confidence in opportunities to relocate or search for a new position. Surveyed candidates agree, with 44% open to a job change and 34% being open to new opportunities with remote options. The remaining 22% have delayed career moves, or are happy to stay put with their current employer.

Greatest Concerns at Work during the pandemic

The coronavirus may seem like a major emergency brake bringing life to a halt. Cleared professionals have experienced a variety of emotions and experiences related to the pandemic, and that’s born out in the more than 700 open-ended comments in the ClearanceJobs coronavirus candidate survey. Four responses rose to the top of all responses, however:

  1. Employees want to stay safe and healthy.
  2. Similar to the first concern, employees do not want to get COVID-19
  3. Despite current job stability, employees are still tracking job security and stability.
  4. Also on everyone’s mind is the return to the office status and procedures.

Return to the Office, but it’s not the same

The move back into the office, whether it’s full time or part-time, is a mixed bag. When it comes to classified work, office hours have to resume. However, others have CAC readers and can continue to function with certain elements of work at home. Some really want to feel like life has “re-normalized” with hours back in the office. The challenge is managing the different health needs of employees, and lack of childcare and education options for parents. With some employees suffering from compromised immune systems, the fear of contracting the virus from a careless coworker is high. Other employees still need 100% work from home options with summer camps closed and many schools set for virtual mode in the fall. The needs are many and diverse, so it’s important for employers to be flexible in their response.

What does Job Searching Look Like?

In many ways, pandemic job searching can feel disconcerting. It’s hard enough to live with the uncertainty of pandemic life, so it is hard to walk through another change. However, 55% of job seekers surveyed were hungry for work and eager to get a job. With personal concerns to consider, 29% simply want to know what kind of safety procedures a company has in place before contemplating an offer. The remaining 28% are cautiously considering the layoff and furlough landscape before committing to jumpstarting the job search process.

Work Continues In Spite of Pandemic

I can’t be the only one who thought we would all just go home for a little bit, and then life as we knew it would resume. With every month that passes, it’s clear that both employers and employees need a flexible approach to work in the coming months. So many factors are outside our control. Due to no fault of their own, many parents will be both educator and employee at home. Physical and mental health are critical concerns that should not be overlooked. While some are fearful to go to work, others are fearful to remain at home alone. As the virus continues to confuse everyone on how to best function, it’s important to have common sense and flexible options in order to maintain mission support and meet employee needs.

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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.