What in the world is going on with job seekers? Survey after survey this year has researchers determined to find out what’s going on, and a new survey by Indeed reveals that benefits hold more weight in talent acquisition. There is a marked lack of urgency for those looking to return to work.
This raises two important questions: what is driving this lack of urgency, and what can employers do about it?
Initially, many employers and pundits wanted to blame higher Unemployment Insurance payments, government stimulus programs, mortgage and eviction moratoriums, fear of COVID-19, and higher chances of exposure that might come with in-person work.
Restaurants, grocery, retail, and other “essential” industries embraced these explanations, but as those benefits expire or run out, employees are not eagerly flocking back to these careers. In fact, employers are concerned about a shorthanded holiday season that could drive more shoppers to check out online and opt for delivery–a field experiencing its own issues.
Despite time running out on extra unemployment insurance, extended welfare benefits, and stimulus payments, employees seem to be flush with cash and savings, and now cite employed spouses and a simplified lifestyle for why they aren’t actively seeking employment.
One of the key findings of the Indeed survey is that among those who are jobless, active job search, urgent or not, has remained steady since June at around 32%. Most are passively searching for work, if at all.
Nearly as interesting is that among those who are employed, the percentage looking for work spiked at 30% in July (from 20% in June) and remains steady at just over 25%. Earlier this year, a global survey by Microsoft revealed that nearly 40% of workers were seeking a new job or even a career change.
That’s a tough reality check for employers, as is the fact that 1 in 5 employees in that same survey said their employers don’t care about their work/life balance. The very face of work is changing, and those businesses that adapt will be rewarded. The rest? Well, as many employers are discovering, you can’t run your business without people. Employees know it, and they are focused on more than just a salary.
The Microsoft survey also reveals what others have been saying all along: once employees got a taste of working at home, some miss the office, some want to remain at home full time, but most are looking for some kind of hybrid solution.
Essentially, this means that for professions where it is possible, employees want the freedom to work how and when they want. In another survey, conducted by Censuswide for Promoleaf, while most employees want continued flexibility, they also want more engagement. And perks, raises, and bonuses don’t count. They want meaningful benefits.
And for those who can’t work remotely? In large part, retail and other workers are looking for more stability in their schedules, better benefits and pay, and a greater amount of paid time off, parental leave, and a clearer career track.
Most are looking to be treated like the essential workers they are, and if not they’re perfectly willing, at least for the moment, to stay out of work or even pursue additional education and a career change. They’re looking for a more ideal situation, and the current demand for employees means they can hold out for the very best deal.
Many employers are increasingly turning to teens and young college workers. They’re more likely to work nights and weekends, settle for lower pay, and work a flexible schedule. However, a recent study of Gen Z shows they want more, too.
The clear takeaway? No matter what the age or industry of the applicant, benefits will play a huge role in talent acquisition going forward.
What can employers take away from this?
Big companies are turning to large salary bumps, bonuses, and other incentives to lure reluctant workers, but clearly, it will take more than that to get them through the door. Benefits and perks will play a major role, but there’s more.
Employees want to know the salary and at least something about perks and benefits before they apply. A vague list of benefits or the phrase “Salary DOE” will no longer do the trick. Many employment sites are seeing an increase in traffic and job listing views, but no increase in applicants.
Want to get that potential employee to click “Apply Now”? You’re going to need to tune up your outreach and your job descriptions.
It’s not impossible, even in this market, to find the right talent for the job. But in an employees’ market, the burden of enticement rests with the employer. Recruitment, like work, may have changed forever. Only time will tell if the market shifts again. But for now, it’s not just work-from-home that’s causing disruption.
It’s the option to not work at all, and just stay home. Until that changes, "Help Wanted" signs will be a permanent fixture in the windows of many businesses.
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