How do migration processes affect business?

October 2023
Special survey for KIEF 2023

The issue of migration and its impact on the economic situation in the country, as well as on the state of business in the context of human resources, is critically important now and will remain so in the future, as the post-war recovery of the country will depend on it. Gradus Research conducted a survey for the Kyiv International Economic Forum 2023 that included a survey of Ukrainians who have migrated abroad since the beginning of the full-scale war and are still there, and a survey of the business community.

Most migrants have adapted abroad but want to return to Ukraine

The main reason for moving abroad since the beginning of the full-scale war has been the issue of family safety and well-being, as stated by almost half of the respondents (45%). Poland (29%), Lithuania (16%), and Germany (10%) remain among the top countries of migration. And almost two-thirds of respondents (62%) state that they were able to adapt (fully or rather) to life in the host country.

Among the most frequently mentioned difficulties of adaptation are the local language (40%), financial difficulties (28%) and finding housing (24%).

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At the same time, we can state a high desire of Ukrainian migrants to return home to Ukraine — currently, the share of such among the respondents is 63%, while a year ago it was 67%.

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Among those who want to return, more than a third plan to do so by the end of 2024 (39%), while another third of respondents (36%) can’t decide.

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The survey results show a high level of employment among Ukrainian migrants. 70% of the surveyed residents of Ukraine who have moved abroad since the beginning of the war are currently employed. 54% work in the host country, another 12% are employed by Ukrainian companies and work remotely, and 4% work remotely for a foreign company. The key reason for unemployment among the surveyed Ukrainian migrants is most often a lack of knowledge of the local language (43%).

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How does Ukrainian business feel in the context of war and under the influence of migration?

Two-thirds (66%) of Ukrainian companies are operating in the pre-war mode, and the other third (34%) are partially operating.

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Compared to last year, the share of businesses that have undergone partial or complete sectoral transformation or need it has increased significantly: while in November 2022, 41% of surveyed managers or owners stated this, their share is now 59%.

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As for business workload, more than a quarter of the surveyed companies (26%) report 100% or more capacity utilization. Another half of the respondents (52%) operate at more than 50% of their capacity. At the same time, three-quarters of respondents (76%) say their average monthly revenues decreased during the full-scale war.

According to the results of the business community survey, only a quarter (24%) of the companies surveyed are currently experiencing a shortage of staff. The key business challenges during the war include maintaining salaries (44%) and markets/customers (41%), as well as ensuring business operations in the face of power outages (41%).

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"The survey results show that at this stage, the migration of Ukrainians abroad caused by russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine is beginning to become noticeable and affect the functioning of Ukrainian companies. Businesses see the problem of staff shortages as one of the key risks in the future and are preparing to address it. I would also note that business expects a similar proactive stance in restoring human capital from the state — through the fight against corruption, support for entrepreneurship and creation of new jobs," comments Evgeniya Bliznyuk, sociologist, CEO&Founder of Gradus Research.

Business planning horizons have shrunk during the war — most companies surveyed (71%) plan a year ahead or less. At the same time, businesses are optimistic about their development prospects: more than half of the respondents (53%) include a plan for active or moderate development in their strategies.

The main risk in the business vision is staff mobilization — 39% of respondents say so. Companies plan to solve possible problems with human capital by attracting new employees from Ukraine (41%), creating conditions for remote work (34%), and attractive financial conditions (32%).

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Business is more optimistic about the end of the war than Ukrainian migrants abroad

More than half of the surveyed representatives of the business community (56%) believe that active hostilities in Ukraine will end by the end of next year, while the migrants surveyed are more cautious in their assessments, with 37% of them sharing this opinion.

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The full report is available for download via the form below.

The survey was conducted by Gradus Research using a self-administered questionnaire in a mobile application. Survey audiences: the audience of the survey on migration sentiments of the population (220 respondents) includes males and females aged 18 and older who went abroad because of the war (and are still there) and lived in Ukraine before the war; the audience of the survey of the business community (165 respondents) includes individual owners, managing partners, co-owners of businesses, members of the Board of Directors or Supervisory Board of businesses and hired top managers living in Ukraine. The survey was conducted from September 22 to October 5, 2023 among the audience on migration sentiments of the population and from September 27 to October 5, 2023 among the business community.

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