The American workforce is rapidly changing. We’re at the beginning of a new decade, surrounded by overwhelming evolutions in technology, hearing a desperate call for more diversity and inclusion, and on the tail-end of a pandemic that has overhauled what the workday even looks like.
A revolution is on the horizon, and we can’t afford to let it hit us without warning. To make sure you know about all the ways hiring is changing, we reached out to 2,000 hiring experts and HR professionals to ask one question: what trends do you see quickly dominating the hiring sector. There was a wide variety of answers, but here we present with a comprehensive view of the most certain, imminent, and dramatic changes coming for businesses and job seekers.
Far and away, the capability to work remotely was the most prominent emerging trend. This response came from both workers whose companies had transferred to being entirely virtual as well as to employers whose staff had been voicing their concerns about returning to work and how much more convenient the work-from-home setup had been for them.
“Everything has gone virtual,” said one memorable respondent. “It’s a crazy world we are living in and jobs that were once in person are now forever online.”
“Forever online.” That might sound like a crazy notion, but many companies that have been working virtually since the beginning of the pandemic have begun engaging in serious talks about shuttering brick-and-mortar locations and having operations continue via laptop indefinitely. So how will this work? Not everybody benefits from working remotely; some employees are more productive and thrive better under a traditional office setting than they do in a looser, less structured environment. Well, another respondent was quick to mention that as the realities of work change, so will the kind of job seekers that end up getting employed.
Candidates who show an aptitude to be able to be more productive while working independently are going to be the winners of the shift to remote working. Working from your living room differs from the office in one crucial way: access. You can’t just run down the hall and ask your manager a quick question anymore. Layers of communication have been added. Quick questions now become text exchanges or Zoom calls. So naturally, employers are seeking applicants who can make quick decisions on their own without having to interrupt via an instant message.
It’s hard to overstate how dramatic of an effect making working from home commonplace would have on the American workforce. People that aren’t a commutable distance from a company’s location can now apply to jobs that were once off-limits. Employees will live happier lives now that the lack of commuting gives them back valuable free time. Employers will save money both by not having to pay for a physical location, maintenance, hardware, and the like, but it’s shown that employees working from home ask for raises or loftier benefits much less.
Emphasis on Diversity and Inclusion
With the broader talent pool that comes with hiring remotely also comes the ability to hire a much more diverse set of applicants, and employers seem to be seizing on the opportunity. I’ve expounded on the necessity of diverse hiring practices many times before, but the data is undeniable: companies that place an importance on hiring candidates from different races, genders, incomes, and locations are proven to have better functioning teams and a higher rate of productivity.
“I’ve noticed the integration of inclusive leadership capabilities—with the evolution of remote work comes an expanding and diverse talent pool. Our company is consciously embedding race into the organization while aligning D&I to business innovation.”
However, a noticeable amount of respondents did mention that while companies were definitely looking for diverse candidates and talked about implementing inclusive hiring practices, there were a few that weren’t quite going about it the right way. Another respondent said: “I have seen an increase in the need for DEI professionals but employers lack the real knowledge on how to select and employ these specialists.”
So what is “the right way”? Companies that are following through on their commitment to create a more diverse workforce are moving beyond vague promises and moving into taking actions that they can be kept accountable for. Instead of using catch-all strategies and generic terms like “diversity of thought”, there is a focus on underserved and underrepresented demographics such as black and brown women in management, black employee recruitment and development, inclusive culture for individuals with mental health and developmental disabilities, and pay equity.
Small, Tighter Teams
An unfortunate side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic: with so many companies reducing their production output, many employees were laid off and have not been called back to work. Many companies have decided post-pandemic to rebuild their companies from the ground up, focusing on paring down their staff into a smaller, tight-knit team. As such, many respondents noticed a longer period between putting out job listings and actually hiring a candidate.
“We are finding that between all of the craziness, things are moving at a different pace, not as quick as we normally see,” said a respondent. “Particularly when it comes to getting candidates through the interview process.”
How can your company keep up with evolving trends like extended remote work and make sure you’re hiring the most qualified but also diverse candidates, closing the equity gap, and providing opportunities for skilled employees all over the map?
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