Employ, Inc has released the findings from their annual Job Seeker Nation report. The report has been issued by Jobvite since 2010. This is the first publication since Jobvite, JazzHR, and NXTThing RPO came together in April of 2021 under a newly formed parent company, Employ, Inc.
State of the job market
Money and compensation
This year's report is fascinating, and reflects a workforce that continues to evolve, and one that is clearly in the driver's seat. To get some insights into the data, and some color commentary, we were lucky enough to get some time with the brilliant Allie Kelly, Employ Inc's CMO. She's a bit of a self-confessed "quant jock" and has great insights to share. We had an enlightening chat around this most interesting of times we are all going through together.
RNN: So, to get into the elephant in the room: The Great Resignation. Clearly it's happening, and the numbers don't suggest things are slowing down much. What are you seeing?
AK: So, clearly, this is a candidate driven market. Which is super exciting. What's different from past candidate driven markets is that it's accompanied by a level of confidence that I don't think we've ever seen before in candidates. For example, the points about those that are comfortable negotiating salary has up-ticked significantly in the past couple of years. I don't think I've seen any numbers associated with confidence at that level before, which I think is obviously indicative of the market, but also indicative of people really feeling that empowerment.
RNN: What broad trends are you seeing? For example, is this confidence spread across different industries, occupations?
AK: Where we see the most trends is in job type and the sort of labor type, and - interestingly - the trends aren't all that different from one another. Usually, what we'll see is an uptick in either confidence related to wages, or negotiations in one specific industry, or within one type of roles. So, it's not unusual to see things like confidence indicators at the director or upper management level. That has really shifted sort of downward and across the board. And I think that you can see that playing in the market outside of these numbers. You look at what's happening in terms of folks that Amazon unionizing right and other unions popping up around around the country. And that's really indicative of that sort of level of power, or empowerment, and that feeling of confidence, trickling through at every level, which I think is creating a really unique dynamic right now.
And it's very similar trends across industries. Where it's notably different is in sort of frontline workers or what we would usually consider the, the minimum wage hourly workers that we haven't seen show confidence before. They have rarely had this level of, of ability to not just negotiate, but to feel comfortable doing so. It's a new world and a new dynamic for them, but for the employers as well, right?
If employers want to continue to operate in a way that's going to allow them to achieve their business goals, they, they're going to have to to be flexible and really adapt to the demands and requirements of the workforce.
RNN: We're still not onboarding as well as we should be, especially considering this market we're in. We've never have done a great job with it. The quit rate in the first 90 days of starting a new role remains high. Do you see any changes happening there?
AK: I think where ultimately we're falling short is for reasons. In the past, it might have been specific to general discontent in the role or or sort of a mismatch in the expectations that were laid out in the recruiting process. Now, what we're finding is workers will quit a job without having anything lined up. So it's I think it's 34% right now are are saying that they would quit without something else lined up, which I find of all of the statistics, in that report, is the one that sticks out to me. And when I talk to other folks -and granted, my world is just my world - but it rings true, and people are absolutely willing to do that. And whereas in the past people were quitting for very different reasons, now, if they're just generally unhappy, or not even necessarily unhappy not fulfilled in their roles, they're recognizing it very quickly, and they're moving on.
RNN: What potential benefits or upsides do you see for employers in a talent-led market that, understandably, might feel a bit threatening to them?
AK: I do think it makes it interesting for organizations that are willing embrace the employee-led market and really take an empathetic approach to their workforce, and really uniquely listen to those desires and goals and what they really want. Ultimately, in the long run, you would be hiring a workforce that genuinely wants to be part of your company. Granted, that's not going necessarily going to be true in all roles, like in the manufacturing and supply chain stuff, but for many organizations, it could be. And I think that if we can sort of maintain that approach, and that perspective, the companies that do it will be able to have a significant differentiator in the market, and I think ultimately will be much more productive because of it.
It's not going to happen for every worker, or every organization, but I think that there will be a unique handful that will make this really incredible for themselves in the long run.
RNN: There's been an uptick in folks switching industries during the past few years.
AK: So, at the start of the pandemic we were clearly seeing that with front-line workers. And that's continued. But it's broader now. All sorts of nurses and health care workers or those in those sorts of positions, are seeking alternative work and there's no real trend between where they're going, other than what they're moving away from. That speaks more to the pandemic pressures that continue. More broadly, many people have taken the time to really reassess their life and what matters to them and what's important. If the work they're performing does not align with what motivates them as a as a person, then they're more than comfortable to move on, even if they don't have something else lined up.
RNN: Looking at the decision points around job offer acceptance for job offers, compensation just took a big spike moving from 38% to 53% year-over-year. Do you see that trend continuing? Comp seems to really be in the driver's seat right now.
AK: Absolutely. And you can't discount the hype spike, the spiral that we're seeing with inflation. Wages are still trailing. They're up 5.6%, and inflation 7.9%. So, inflation is still markedly ahead of wages, and this will continue to drive wage increases. I don't think it's going to change anytime soon. For many companies, while salary is now the expectation for new folks coming in, and for existing workers, companies really need to assess how much they need to review compensation with their current workforce. That presents a lot of organizational challenges. I don't think it's going to last forever. But, I am not an economist, so predicting when this eases isn't something I'm going to even attempt.
You know, the other part to know is that the Fed a couple of weeks ago mentioned that it was there 1.8 open jobs for every job seeker right now, which is a statistic I had not previously heard. And when I look at that in the context of this report, it is incredible, and that will take a long time to normalize. So that combined with the economic situation, and some of the dynamics going on with labor participation, could really spell a long term shift not just in terms of what compensation numbers look like, but in workforce dynamics as a whole.
RNN: And when we think impacts across the economy in general, it's already interesting. I mean, think about JetBlue - they're very publicly taking it on the chin due to staffing issues. People are cancelling trips with the airline, and the situation is doing serious long-term brand damage. On top of that, if business travelers can't get to their destinations for things like conferences, that impacts an entire other industry. Ripples.
AK: It's kind of fun to watch. Well, "fun" probably isn't the right word. But its fascinating, in its way. I do think that years from now, we'll all look back and talk about "Do you remember in 22? And like all of this nonsense was going on? How wild we all went through that."
RNN: So, with compensation rising as a key point for job seekers, others shifted. Unsurprisingly a job's location took a big dive. Job security dropped. And it and also culture wasn't as important. Is that because job candidates are becoming more cynical, or more empowered to take a chance since they feel confident about getting another job if one doesn't work out?
AK: I think it has much more to do with the relative importance of the other things. And in the past, as an industry we haven't necessarily extracted culture the same as we do now. We generally meant a very specific sort of "am I having fun? Do I like going to work every day?" Not necessarily "do I like going to work? Do I feel valued?"
I think it is now it's sliced in different was. People look at things like how benefits are perceived as part of the culture - a really great company will offer really competitive benefits, and also benefits like pet insurance or full mental health benefits. And those are things that are now considered culture. And when you ask the question, I think it's ultimately a different question. Culture is now its own world and its own profession. We now have dedicated roles to manage company culture, that's not something that we've seen until recently. When we think about it from that perspective, I think it might have more to do with the perception of company culture, and the relative importance of the other specific factors, as opposed to feeling it's not important.
RNN: Question on remote/ hybrid work. Is it here to stay? According to Gallup numbers, 60% of employees preferred the office in 2019. Now, it's 9%. That's a significant shift.
AK: People have come to understood that they can be productive and work from home. I think that having a job that allows for workplace flexibility, whether it's working remotely part time, whether it's flex hours, I think there's so many things that go into that, I don't know anybody - aside from literally one human - that wants to be in the office all the time. I think it' that most people are really coming to understand that there are multiple benefits to a flexible approach. And, I don't know if it's any one thing for everyone. Is it really because people want to not be in an office? Or is it because what they really value time spent not commuting? Is it that they value the ability to roll out of bed in the morning and get to work only "professionally" dressed on the top half of their bodies? I do think that there's more to remote as opposed to you're either 100% remote or you're not. It's much more encompassing, but I think that's a good thing, too. Flexibility in terms of how we shape those environments are really important. And not every office actually can be remote. But everybody can reassess how they approach the workplace, both employers and in the workforce, and that's something to have a flexible mind about.
RNN: I was so as curious about candidate experience, because that's important. Something in the report that stood out to me was that candidates seem to want more in-person recruiter time, even though they won't be in the office that much. They seem to value that more than they did in the past. They're less than thrilled with email, they want more in person meetings with the recruiters, and the candidate experience part that seemed to tank was the lack of that contact.
AK: You know this is the third conversation this week I've had about this very topic. When you look at it in the context of other communication factors in the recruiting process you start getting some insights. So for example if you look at the percent of candidates that have been ghosted by a company - and that's a horrible experience as a candidate. I think what this ultimately comes down to is, is communication and transparency. So understanding that it's a human touch that's needed, and human interaction can never be replaced entirely by automation and systems. Now, obviously, tools and technology can greatly enhance the way that these things happen and make it easier. But ultimately, people want to feel valued, they want to feel that their time is respected. And the way that you do that is you show up for people, and you show up for the candidates. And I think that the best possible way to do that is in person and whether in person is actually in person or if it's on video.
RNN: And speaking of ghosting, I did notice that that the groups are the most likely to be ghosted by recruiters were vets, and people with disabilities. Is that consistent year-over-year?
AK: I don't believe we asked it in that way last year - think we grouped them slightly differently. But what I will say is: it's depressing and appalling at the same time. I also think that those are the areas that we should be more focused on. Any protected class, if those are the same people that we're trying to elevate within our organizations and rally round in terms of equality and making a more inclusive workspace. The fact that we're collectively disappointing them that much more often really speaks volumes in terms of an opportunity that we can improve upon and what can be done for those folks in the process. And how much of that is even involved in the process? Because ghosting isn't necessarily limited to a company just stopping speaking to someone altogether forever. It can be "I was expecting you to call me and then a week and a half went by, and I still haven't heard from you." So there's also different flavors of ghosting. And I think that being acutely aware, again, communications with candidates and does that meet their expectations? Do they expect you to respond to them the next day? If so, you should respond the next day. Because if two days go by and you haven't responded, they think you ghosted them, right? And so, even if you didn't and you're still in the midst of the decision making process, you've dropped a ball.
It really comes back to understand the expectations of your candidates, and aligning your process and what you're delivering from an experience standpoint, whether it's during the recruiting process, or in your workplace environment, aligning to their expectations, and being transparent about it is the other part of it. I think candidates are going to be much more willing to extend the process if they knew exactly where they stood and what the process looks like.
RNN: Any closing thoughts on this year's data?
AK: For me employers really need to understand what's there for workers and what their prospective workforce, their candidates, want and need. And, then adapt based on that, obviously balancing it with their business goals. But if you can't adapt, I think this is going to be that time in the in the cycle business life that your sort of adapt or die. It'll be interesting to see how it all plays out.
For the full report, please visit Job Seeker Nation 2022