Last month, the team at Indeed released their 2021 Hiring Trends Report. The report provided an effective follow up to their earlier piece on the Great Resignation, which was referenced more than once in the study.
On a positive note, the Indeed study shows that the mass exodus of employees from the U.S. workforce, which saw a record 4.3 million departures in August, and now nearly 20 million in the five-month period beginning April of this year, has the attention of employers of all sizes. Seventy-nine percent of their sample of more than 1,100 organizations, ranging from small and medium enterprises to large corporations, said it has been difficult to hire recently.
And with YPulse reporting in their 2021 Employment and Careers Report that 63 percent of employed 18-to-24-year-olds plan to get a new job within the next year, the rush to the exits is likely not over. Despite significant reporting across the media detailing what's driving the Great Resignation, Indeed found that 84 percent of employers believe that health concerns are contributing to the ongoing labor shortage. Predictably, then, their responses to the employment crisis, as reported by Indeed, have been hit and miss, leaving one to wonder whether they are fully paying attention to what workers are actually saying.
For example, 71 percent of the Indeed sample reported that they are now offering flexible work scheduling to more employees now than before the pandemic. However, less than half -- 49 percent -- of those who had been formerly reluctant to offer remote work options are now doing so. Also, despite a recent poll from the folks at employee well-being provider Limeade which found that only about a third of Great Resignation departures are related to money, 45 percent of the Indeed sample are trying increased compensation as a means of keeping and attracting workers.
And besides some employers offering perks like free food and expanded education reimbursement, there was no mention of any initiatives tied to improving work culture, expanding access to mental health support, or reducing stress and burnout, which have been key themes associated with recent departures. Employers are, instead, focused more inwardly; a tact which, unless carefully navigated, can have the effect of making an already awful situation -- 76 percent of the Indeed sample say that this has all impacted business negatively -- worse.
Notably, the Indeed research found that 82 percent of employers plan to use tools like online assessments to measure candidate skills. The trouble is, there is little proof that these tools are actually predictive of success. Despite skyrocketing use of pre-hire assessments, according to LeadershipIQ, 46 percent of all new hires still fail within the first 18 months. And many dislike pre-hire assessments, particularly when they precede human contact, do not align well with advertised role responsibilities, require significant time to complete, and/or do not include disclosure of results.
What's more, studies have shown that these assessments can reduce diversity of all kinds in workplaces that employ them, resulting in buildings full of people who not only look alike but think alike and act alike as well. And with nearly 20 percent of Limeade study's sample citing discrimination as a reason for leaving their job, efforts made in the name of increased diversity -- 95 percent of the Indeed sample say they're committed to hiring diverse talent -- should actually achieve that goal, not work against it, and certainly should not further aggravate an already irritated workforce.
Eighty-two percent of the Indeed respondents also report now using virtual interviews, citing benefits to their organization such as speedier hiring, which 74 percent of the sample cited. These businesses also believe that remote hiring is preferred by associates. However, according to a recent study by staffing firm Yoh, the vast majority of 2,000 workers surveyed said they prefer in-person interviewing to virtual interviews. Similarly, Indeed's own data found that only 37 percent feel less intimidated online versus in-person for example. So, the risk for employers in running ahead with initiatives which primarily benefit themselves may be that their employees and prospective hires fail to grasp the same level of enthusiasm. And in a period of already strained employee-employer relations, that's not a good thing.
While the Indeed survey is only a single data point and one not entirely devoid of good news, it does offer pause. The report does point out, for example, that "the majority [of employers] are taking this opportunity to rethink how and whom they hire." This much is true. There are other reasons for hope as well, not the least of which is the sample's heightened sensitivity to diversity. However, the clear lack of focus by employers on the core issues that are driving the Great Resignation, and the fact that the actions they are taking could be as bad for employers as they are good, are not welcome signs.
Those employers -- particularly the more nimble small- and medium-size enterprises -- that actually listen to what exiting associates are saying, and who make things more about their associates than themselves, are more likely to win. These are companies that truly care about the mental health of their associates. These are employers who work hard to create kinder, more caring cultures, where associates feel they matter and have a greater say in the direction of the business. These are businesses that prioritize initiatives that make the lives of their employees better over those aimed at the enrichment of those who run the place. And these are businesses that never mistake the fact that all the money in the world won't make going to a toxic workplace every day any more tolerable.