The Scoop: Recruitment Trends & Industry Insights | April 2021

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Here is your April guide to the latest trends impacting the world of work. Every month, we provide perspective on the biggest news affecting the industry and explain what to expect as new trends continue to emerge.

Understanding this Counterintuitive Labor Market May Require Humanistic Lens

Overall unemployment was down in March. However, the rate of decline was not even across the country; with 20 states seeing an improvement in their unemployment rate and 30 relatively unchanged. These figures do not account for the population not yet retired, but currently not actively looking for work. Therefore, the actual talent pool is most likely larger.  

With a sizable available supply of talent, a logical expectation would be to brace for an influx in job applications; however, employers are currently finding it difficult to fill open positions. Many companies are increasing benefits and even offering incentives for showing up to job interviews.

There is a range of research speculating whether the government incentive plays a factor on the decreased motivation to search for employment, but this unemployment situation is exacerbated by other challenges such as health and safety concerns.

A 10-percentage-point increase in the share of people fully vaccinated corresponded with a 1.1-percentage-point increase in their employment. There are many ways to interpret the finding – it doesn’t tell us anything about causation – but one possibility is that vaccinated people are more comfortable taking jobs.      

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/16/upshot/unemployment-pandemic-worker-shortages.html [New York Times]

The administration announced that all US adults (over the age of 16) are now eligible for the vaccine. The rate of economic recovery will in part be bolstered by the rate at which the population gets vaccinated. 

Some projections suggest that bringing the total daily vaccinations up to three million would increase employment by nearly one million by this summer. The prevailing wisdom here is that as more people are vaccinated, there will be fewer swings of behavioral extremes – an increase in COVID-19 cases increases the need for social distancing, resulting in business closures and a hit to the economic recovery. 

Read more: https://www.businessamlive.com/how-economic-recovery-hinges-on-the-vaccine-rollout/ [Business A.M.]

Employers are ramping-up their workforce to account for the increased economic activity as a result of the stimulus. Some employers are now requiring the COVID-19 vaccination for employment. While this may enhance the sense of safety and reduce business operating uncertainty, it may further stymie application volume. It is a tight line to walk without consensus about vaccination requirements at the industry-level and at a time when the public’s emotions and anxiety are high.

Returning to In-person Work: Employee Wellness May Impact Office Design

Many companies are preparing to welcome their employees back into the office in May or June. However, many workers are still hesitant, even those who have been vaccinated. 

Beyond the preference to work remotely or challenges with childcare for working parents, another challenge is trust. The past year has seen a decline in trust in institutions and in society at large. As a result, workers are concerned about how workplace policies will be enforced by employers and whether colleagues with differing views on the severity of COVID-19 will flout social distancing and masking rules in the office. 

In addition to the needs of current employees, employers have been revising messaging on their career sites, job descriptions and job ads. It would be advantageous to communicate new work policies to aid candidates in their decision process – rules about social distancing and masking (and, similar to airlines, penalties for noncompliance), phased back-to-the-office approaches and hybrid-remote work structures.

Read more: https://slate.com/human-interest/2021/04/office-reopening-anxiety-fear-mistrust.html [Slate]

As many employers settle on a hybrid-remote workforce model (staggered days, part-time, etc.) much of the focus has been on changes to the physical environment (e.g., distanced workstations with plexiglass partitions) and functional enhancements (e.g., hoteling). However, the increased focus on mental health and wellness may result in an evolution in office design moving from open concept and foosball tables to more sanctuary spaces.

While expected from traditional tech companies like Google, other industry leaders like Citibank have already reimagined their office environment with wellness in mind. Over the past few years, the rise in the office-as-a-campus pushed competition for ever glossier everything-on-site company perks. As job growth continues in an upward trajectory, and competition for top talent increases, we may see an increase in companies showcasing their new office spaces on their career sites in an effort to show (versus tell) candidates that the company culture is focused on wellness.

Read more: https://intelligence.wundermanthompson.com/2021/03/office-sanctuaries/ [Wunderman Thompson]

The Push for Fairness in Advertising Brings Sustained Focus on Discriminatory Practices

Five years removed from the initial realization of ad distribution discrimination on Facebook, new research has found that its algorithms still result in gender bias. Identical Facebook job ads for a pizza delivery driver and a grocery delivery driver resulted in distribution along current gender lines. Currently, a greater percentage of men are pizza delivery drivers, and more women occupy grocery delivery driver roles.

Though no audience was specified on the basis of demographic information, a feature Facebook disabled for housing, credit, and job ads in March of 2019 after settling several lawsuits, algorithms still showed the ads to statistically distinct demographic groups. The Domino’s [pizza delivery] ad was shown to more men than women, and the Instacart [grocery delivery] ad was shown to more women than men.

The pandemic has brought increased engagement on social media, making it a logical choice for employers to promote new job opportunities. However, more companies are proceeding with caution as they ensure their talent acquisition practices are in line not only with the law, but with their deepened commitment to equitable practices in the workplace. 

Read More: https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/04/09/1022217/facebook-ad-algorithm-sex-discrimination/ [MIT Technology Review]

Beyond discriminatory demographic targeting in social media ads, advertisers have been plagued by the challenges of data collection transparency and cookie tracking. Notably, Google is looking to replace third-party cookies with a process of ad targeting on the web called Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC). Rather than tracking an individual, this new approach leverages users’ browsing activity to create a group behavioral profile, which is then shared with websites and advertisers.

While Google is positioning FloC as a less invasive approach to refined targeting, privacy advocates and other browsers are pushing back – DuckDuckGo has even created an ad blocking browser extension for Chrome – highlighting concerns of even greater issues of discriminatory and predatory ad targeting. 

Read more: https://www.androidpolice.com/2021/04/19/the-folks-behind-brave-browser-slam-google-for-its-new-tracking-policy/ [Android Police]

Employers have relied on precision advertising to effectively meet their talent attraction needs. These positive shifts in advertising regulation come at a time when understanding preferences and targeted ads are at a high premium.

ROUNDING OUT THE SCOOP: PSYCH, SOCIAL, LABOR AND TECH

  • Even as the interest in Clubhouse has waned a bit, digital platforms like Twitter recognize the value of audio social networks. The newest entrant into this competitive space is Reddit Talk. Employers have used Reddit AMAs for engagement in the past and could see similar engagement with this new format.
    Read more: https://www.theverge.com/2021/4/19/22391875/reddit-talk-clubhouse-social-audio [The Verge]

About Jahkedda Akbar Mitchell

Jahkedda has many years of experience providing strategic guidance, data, and insights on job-seeker trends in support of Radancy and its clients. She has also worked in-house on the candidate attraction team for a large fortune 500 company. Jahkedda has a passion for psychology and storytelling; understanding why we do what we do and how to change behaviors...only using her powers for good. Jahkedda is a member of Radancy Labs: a design thinking focused innovation lab.

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