Workers’ Day 2022: What employment looks like in Nigeria post lockdown



Necessity is, of course, the mother of innovation and Nigerians had no option but to invent [adopt, actually] new ways of getting work done and keeping the country’s economy [or a version of it] afloat.

That said, Covid’s hard biting impact on employment in Nigeria must still be accounted for. According to reports from Nigeria COVID-19 National Longitudinal Phone Survey (NLPS), employment dropped from 86% to 42% around March/May 2020 when the Pandemic was at its raging worst and lockdowns were in effect.

Now that Covid has seemingly done its worst and we’re [apparently] out of the woods, – employment rates have risen back to pre-pandemic levels, per NLPS – work has also now fully returned.

But a lot has since changed between then and now. While some have remained just as they have always been.

Remote work and hybrid systems may be here to stay

One of the biggest offshoots of the Pandemic was the rise of remote work. And even though Covid-19 is no longer the scare it once was, workers all over the world, in Nigeria no less, have continued to work remotely.

According to Tomisin Akingboye, a seasoned HR professional and Head of Operations at a Lagos company, remote work, or some hybrid form of work, may continue for many years to come.

“I think [remote work] will continue to the foreseeable future, for certain industries/spaces,” she tells Pulse via text. “For other industries, they may go along the line of hybrid work mode.” While it may be difficult to tell which industries are likely to stick with what, the continuation of this Covid-popularised mode of work does not seem to be in question.

Vanguard NG reports the finding of a research firm, KnowBe4, which found that 32% of corporate organizations in Nigeria will continue with remote working on a flexible basis.

Workplaces in Nigeria are still toxic

This is, of course, not particular to Nigeria. But workplace toxicity in Nigeria cannot be overlooked, not especially when its starkness was laid bare in the recent #HorribleBosses conversation on social media which was sparked by TechCabal’s investigation into the work culture at Ebun Okunbanjo’s Bento Africa.

David Hundenyin’s expose and Clara Nwajikwu Odero’s tweets alleging toxicity in the operations of Gbenga Agboola’s Flutterwave also make for uncomfortable reading. Okubanjo has since apologised while Agboola has denied the allegations in Hundeyin’s story.

Even though the employment rate has somewhat returned to pre-covid numbers according to the NLPS stats referred to above, it still doesn’t take away from the brutal reality of unemployment in Nigeria, which, according to stats provided here, has seen a steady year on year increase for no less than 5 years.

Nigerian brain drain is not slowing down. Even though there has been a reported decrease in emigration numbers since 2019, the number of quality minds leaving the country to put their knowledge and high-level skills to use in other countries remains worrisome.

Even those who can’t leave yet are bartering their skills for better pay in foreign companies through remote work. Data from LinkedIn shows an increase of about 60% in the volume of remote job searches since March 2020.

Mental health over huge paychecks?

More than ever before, significant importance is now being attached to mental health, particularly by employees and employers may need to start paying serious attention to it as well. Such is the magnitude of the anxiety Covid-19 brought into the world that occurrences of depression spiked by a worrisome 25% globally, according to WHO.


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