Burnout Among the Post-COVID Challenges


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With the world economy barely recovered from COVID setbacks, it is now hit by the effects of the war in Ukraine. Meanwhile, more employees are quitting their jobs in search of something more meaningful, although what that might be is hard to define.

As part of the global economy, the human resources sector is particularly exposed to changes in the world market. Therefore, we will start this “HR Matters” column with an overview of the global economic prospects, as outlined by a recent analysis released by Moody’s Investors Service.

Moody’s expects the crisis in Ukraine to last for at least a few months longer and the sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States and the European Union to be in force for at least two years from now. According to the analysis, the longer the crisis, the higher the risk of a recession extending to a large part of the world. And that is the best-case scenario.

A worst-case scenario considers the complete shutdown of energy commerce between Russia and Europe. Such an outcome would lead to significant stress in the global economy and recession in all European countries. This would impact currency exchange rates and result in an economic environment with very low liquidity, Moody’s says. The World Bank has already lowered its forecast for world economic growth this year from 4.1% to 3.2%.

The prospects for the Hungarian economy are not much better either. The latest World Economic Outlook released by the International Monetary Fund lowered the forecast for GDP growth in Hungary this year to 3.7% from 5.1% in October. Growth in the eurozone is expected to fare even worse, reaching 2.8%.

The IMF puts the annual average inflation in Hungary at 10.3% this year, and it sees the current-account deficit widening to 1.3% of GDP. The IMF said the displacement of more than four million Ukrainians to neighboring countries, including Hungary, would “add to economic pressures in the region.”

Not Optimistic

It is difficult to estimate how the economic pressures will shape the Hungarian labor force; however, a recent poll indicates that the younger generation is not optimistic. A study conducted by K&H Bank in Q1 shows that one-third of working young adults would consider moving abroad. While they say they would “test themselves” in another country, the 34% measured by the K&H Youth Index is very high: in the nearly 10-year history of the survey, similarly high rates have been seen only twice before, in 2013 and again in early 2017.

In the meantime, in Q4 2021 compared to Q3, the unemployment rate fell in both the 20-24 and 25-29 age groups, from 12.7% to 11.1% and 5.6% to 4.1%, respectively. Many sectors are struggling with unfilled positions, while some young people are not qualified for the jobs they apply for, according to the findings of the K&H Youth Index.

Job search portal profession.hu also reveals a deepening shortage in the labor force, which takes in all counties in Hungary. Between Q1 2021 and Q1 2022, the number of job advertisements posted rose by 66%, mostly in Somogy and Tolna (southern Hungary) and Pest, where the growth exceeded 70%.

As for economic sectors, employees are needed most in hospitality and tourism, followed by education, science-related posts, and company management. Interestingly, IT programming, once in very high demand, is now among the lowest advertised roles on profession.hu.

IT programmers may not be the most sought-after professionals currently, but other IT skills are still needed in Hungary. European and Hungarian data indicates that women may be a valuable pool for this sector. Hungary’s ICT Association (IVSZ) conducted a survey revealing that women employed by Hungarian IT companies account for less than 20% of the total, and then mostly in back office, finance, HR, and marketing and sales roles.

IT Motivation

Women’s motivations for working in the IT sector vary by age. The main drive below 30 is high salaries, while between 30 and 40, development and remote work, and above 40, learning new technologies. Career advancement is also important for women working in this sector, but stereotypes hinder them, 35% indicated.

Interestingly, tropes such as “IT is not for women” are manifested not within the company but in broader society (in education and among clients, family and friends), the IVSZ survey shows.

Remote work seems to be an important factor both for employees and employers. According to the “Future of Work and Skills” survey conducted by PwC in September last year, productivity grew with remote or hybrid work. Almost 60% of respondents said that their organization had performed better against targets compared to previous periods. This improved productivity was attributed to several factors, such as less time spent on travel, the implementation of new technologies, and more efficient meetings.

But hybrid work also has its adverse effects. The higher volume of work can lead to burnout, adding to social distancing. According to PwC, the record number of resignations globally is not necessarily caused by better job offers but by the desire for change or improved quality of life.

One place to look for new jobs may be via the LinkedIn website, specializing in professional skills and networks. A recent survey shows that 74% of LinkedIn users with higher education degrees consider it indispensable for business. The majority of the 600 respondents use this platform for job search, networking, and following companies.

On the other hand, content creation is not very popular among LinkedIn users; only half of those questioned post regularly. On the other side of the fence, however, recruiters responded that finding a relevant applicant on LinkedIn is expensive. Very few HR managers spend money on this platform; only 6% spend between HUF 100,000 and HUF 500,000 and 15% less than HUF 100,000, while 75% of the respondents do not spend at all on LinkedIn.

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of May 6, 2022.


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