The Scoop: Recruitment Trends & Industry Insights | June 2021

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Here is your June 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.

Employees are quitting companies they perceive as wavering on the promise of the employer value proposition (EVP)

In 2019, the average rate of unemployed population to job openings was 0.80% (more than one job per every unemployed person in the US). During this time, the quit rate was 2.3%. There was an abundance of opportunity in the job market for candidates aspiring to take the next step in their careers. Employers, looking to attract job hoppers, leaned into messaging that communicated dynamic, challenging work and company innovation. 

After seeing a sharp decline in the height of the pandemic, the rate of employees quitting their jobs is back up above pre-pandemic levels, but for vastly different reasons. In April, the share of US jobs leavers was 2.7%, up from 1.6% YoY, and the highest level since 2000.

Much of the focus has been on hourly-waged workers with pay, more challenging work conditions (belligerent customers and additional COVID-19 precautions) and health and family concerns leading to higher turnover (April quit rate at 4.3%). However, employers who are signaling a return-to-work policy that looks more akin to the pre-pandemic situation are finding that a percentage of their workforce is more willing to quit than give up the flexibility of remote work. 

A May survey of 1,000 US adults showed that 39% would consider quitting if their employers weren’t flexible about remote work. The generational difference is clear: Among millennials and Gen Z, that figure was 49%.

This may present an opportunity for employers with more flexible remote work policies and stricter COVID-19 in-office protocols to refocus their recruitment marketing, developing a full content strategy focused on their points of differentiations to attract the coming segment of job hoppers.    

Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-06-01/return-to-office-employees-are-quitting-instead-of-giving-up-work-from-home [Bloomberg]

This year’s double pandemic – a term coined to express the socio-cultural impact of COVID-19 and fight for racial justice – is shaping up to have a similar impact on the US workforce. 

The increased conversation in the workplace about diversity, equity and inclusion has led to more rigorous practices and programs, and open dialogue that can be challenging – as any change management professional can attest, organizational shifts rarely happen without some level of discomfort. 

As highlighted in last months’ edition of the Scoop, Coinbase and Basecamp made the decision to lean away rather than embrace practices aimed at improving inclusion and belonging in their workforce. In both cases, there was a company memo sent out under the guise of “new corporate culture policies” that amounted to getting back to the business at hand which resulted in a percentage of their workforce quitting at both companies. 

This time, the memo is from Mediums’ leadership, and while it contains a more veiled recalibration of the status quo, the result remains the same.  

The month of the memo, churn tripled at the company compared to the month prior and was 30 times higher than the January metric, using an internal data set obtained by TechCrunch.

The heart of the issue at Medium, similar to Basecamp, is employees advocating for more accountability from their employer in matters that go against the purported values and culture of the organization.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/03/medium-exodus-culture-memo/ [TechCrunch]

The rubber may be meeting the road for employers. In this moment of labor shortages and high turnover, employees are demanding that employers actually hold true to the promise of the Employer Value Proposition (EVP) or they might walk. 

Teenagers and Robots: The Pandemic’s Impact on the US Hourly Workforce

This spring, college enrollment across public, private and community colleges is down significantly from years prior. The pandemic left many students, especially those from low-income communities, with little choice but to postpone starting their post-secondary education. The cost of school and helping out with family responsibilities, for some, created the need to prioritize current financial gain over future career aspirations.     

As the debate rages on regarding whether the current labor market is actually slack or tight and whether there is a talent shortage or simply the free market correcting itself along salary lines – with wages for hourly jobs up by as much as four additional dollars per hour in some cities – teens are entering the hourly job market poised to reap greater benefits than their predecessors. 

There is concern that this trend will ultimately negatively impact the pool of college educated talent for future roles, but as most of the opportunities are for seasonal work, only time will tell if the solution for employers’ immediate challenge will lead to a greater issue to come.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/30/business/economy/pandemic-jobs-teenagers.html [New York Times]

In addition to the influx of young people to fill the current workforce needs – particularly in hourly roles – and in the face of what seems to be continually rising demand for a higher average hourly pay, employers are looking to technology to offset some of the burden. 

While fairly common in places like Tokyo, US cities have been slightly slower to move on more recent developments in fast food automation. However, the pandemic has increased the need for efficient and cost-effective optimization, which has ushered in the long-awaited shift in this sector. 

McDonald’s is testing out technology, functionally similar to an automated-assistant voice-recognition system, at its drive-throughs to take customer orders. While this may eventually reduce the need for human assistance at this step in the process, completely automating food prep will require more coordination. The end-result may be a slower evolution that could account for worker displacement in novel ways. 

Read more:https://futurism.com/mcdonalds-drive-thru-ai [Futurism]

Google’s Evolution from Search Query and Results to Search Conversations

During its most recent annual developer conference I/O, Google showcased its new technology, LaMDA – short for “Language Model for Dialogue Applications” – an AI tool that eclipses the tech giant’s 2018 efforts with Duplex (if you somehow missed the video of the AI making phone calls). Unlike most other language models, LaMDA was trained on dialogue, which allows it to distinguish open-ended conversations and understand conversation context. 

Beyond voice powered assistants, Google’s vision is to incorporate LaMDA into the search experience. 

The LaMDA demonstration offers a window into Google’s vision for search that goes beyond a list of links and could change how billions of people search the web. That vision centers on AI that can infer meaning from human language, engage in conversation, and answer multifaceted questions like an expert. 

Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/google-hopes-ai-turn-search-conversation/ [Wired]

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

  • Over the last year and a half, large companies have relied on enterprise tech solutions (e.g., Zoom) to bridge communication and collaboration across their workforce in a multitude of locations. This time period also saw innovative solutions from the tech start-up market. A few solutions aimed at back to work post-COVID-19: 
  • As companies such as Google, Reddit and Twitter stand by their promise of greater work location flexibility, more workers are considering the possibility of not just working from home but working from anywhere. Here’s a list of the fastest growing remote work hubs:
    Read more: https://nomadlist.com/fastest-growing-remote-work-hubs [Nomad List] 

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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