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June 17, 2021

Jobseekers Are Calling All The Shots. Here’s What They Want.

I was interested, but not surprised, to read that Apple’s new hybrid work model has driven some of its employees to resign. “Many of us feel we have to choose between either a combination of our families, our well-being, and being empowered to do our best work, or being a part of Apple,” reads a letter from […]

I was interested, but not surprised, to read that Apple’s new hybrid work model has driven some of its employees to resign. “Many of us feel we have to choose between either a combination of our families, our well-being, and being empowered to do our best work, or being a part of Apple,” reads a letter from Apple employees to CEO Tim Cook. Employees voting with their feet is a sign of the times and a trend we’re also seeing among jobseekers. After a year of crisis, uncertainty and soul searching, people have a clear idea of what they’re looking for in a job and they won’t settle for anything less. Employers that aren’t able to meet their demands will find themselves at a serious disadvantage, unable to attract the talent they need (or hold on to the talent they’ve already got). So, what are jobseekers’ priorities right now and how should employers respond?

The Right Balance

Flexibility is top of candidates’ wish list, and it seems they’re not prepared to compromise. As the Apple example shows, ‘flexible’ working options that don’t offer choice simply won’t cut it. During the pandemic, many have achieved a work/ life balance that just wasn’t possible when they were commuting every day and confined to their office desk 40+hours a week. They’ve enjoyed working their hours flexibly, allowing them to have more time for themselves and their family, and they don’t want to give that up. Flexibility is so highly prized that candidates are turning down jobs that require them to be in the office five days a week. If an employer doesn’t offer the flexible working arrangements they want, they’ll simply wait for another that will. It’s all part of what the New York Times has described as the YOLO (You Only Live Once) movement. It’s about people throwing caution to the wind, embarking on new career adventures or “scoffing at their bosses’ return-to-office mandates and threatening to quit unless they’re allowed to work wherever and whenever they want.” After the past year, it’s perhaps understandable. 

Shared Values

But it’s not just flexible working that jobseekers care about right now. Increasingly, they want to find a purpose in life, and are seeking out employers that share their values. That might be a commitment to sustainability, philanthropy, or social impact.

This trend isn’t new, but the pandemic has empowered people to reassess what’s important to them. And for some that means swapping life in the corporate fast lane for a more meaningful career in a company they believe in.

Diversity is also moving up the jobseeker priority list; in a Glassdoor survey, around one in three U.S. employees and job seekers said they wouldn’t apply to a company where there’s a lack of diversity among its workforce.MORE FOR YOURemote Workers Spend More On Housing. Do They Deserve Higher Pay?Importance Of Data, Governance And MLOps When Using Machine Learning To Drive Successful Business Outcomes

However, people are looking for more than intent and promises. They expect to see authenticity and action - proof that employers genuinely care about creating an inclusive workplace. And, according to the same Glassdoor research, when it comes to understanding how inclusive an employer really is, they’ll trust employees much more than senior leaders or the company website.

Career Progression

It’s not enough for a candidate and employer to share values. Today’s jobseekers also want reassurance that if they join a company, they’ll be able to learn new skills and get their career back on track after a tumultuous year. Many feel that their careers have stalled, and they’re worried about the impact this will have in the longer term. Even when Tiger Recruitment surveyed workers at the height of the pandemic, people were more anxious about their career than their health. Eight in 10 said they were quite or very concerned about what the pandemic will mean for their future career opportunities, while just over a third were worried about catching the coronavirus and falling ill. Younger workers (16-24) were particularly concerned; working from home has meant they have missed out on vital on-the-job training at a critical time in their professional development. It’s hardly surprising that candidates now are looking to make up lost ground, and employers that offer generous training and career development opportunities will have an edge.

Benefits Overhaul

Don’t think that benefits aren’t important anymore just because people aren’t in the office as much as they used to be. They still matter but the difference is that what was once considered nice-to-have is now seen as essential. This includes mental health and wellbeing provision, which has taken on a new significance in the past 12 months. During the pandemic many employers offered new health and wellness benefits to support their workers through difficult times, and as things return to normal employees’ expectation is that this support will continue. The news that Amazon, one of America’s largest employers, has introduced a new mental health benefit for all its US employees and their families is significant. The hope is that other businesses will follow suit and offer their own version of the wellbeing support jobseekers (and employees) want.

Article written by:  Orville Lynch, Jr.
Mr. Lynch, a member of the legendary two-time Ohio Civil Rights Hall of Fame Award winning Lynch Family. Mr. Lynch is a nationally recognized urban media executive with over 20+ years of diversity recruitment and serial entrepreneur with numerous multi-million dollar exits.
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