Recent employment data amplifies a now recurring theme for the US workforce: Something’s not right. What the lockdown era of the COVID-19 pandemic upended, the post-vaccine era has been unable to restore.
In fact, a record-setting 4.3 million workers quit their jobs in August 2021.
And it looks like plenty of workers are now sitting out entirely. Overall workforce participation has declined 1.7% during the pandemic, now at 61.6% in September. There are now 2.7 million individuals classified as “long-term unemployed,” compared to just 1.1M pre-pandemic.
It’s as if workers have a new set of expectations. Many folks may now have a greater willingness to hold out for workplaces that match their priorities. As a result, we need to re-energize (and humanize) our methods for recruiting, hiring, and managing employees. There’s a lot of room for innovation and personalization. Simply put:
It’s time to customize the employment lifecycle. You may never fill those open positions if you don’t.
One size fits all? That’s so 2010s.
Customization isn’t new. From ads on e-commerce websites to suggested content on streaming services, it’s become increasingly ubiquitous. Yet we’re lagging behind when it comes to hiring. For too long, we’ve put our talent pool through the same steps for everyone, from recruitment through the on-the-job experience.
There’s no reason why we can’t bring a custom touch to people operations.
It begins with learning about a person up front. With a quick personality assessment, that introduction is possible. With data, recruiters can predict how an applicant will navigate through the workday. Will they dive in? Do they prefer being around others? Are they the type to triple-check their work or do they like to work quickly?
A candidate journey all your own.
Struggling to find workers who stay on the job? You’re likely missing the opportunity to learn about the people in your applicant funnel and create experiences made just for them.
To consider what this would look like, let’s say you’re a retailer looking to hire sales assistants. As part of the initial application, you capture data about each candidate with a personality assessment. Right away, your candidates are thinking about who they are. Some will reflect on how their talents would fit in at the company.
From there, you provide a takeaway for candidates, even the ones you don’t hire.
By giving everyone access to their personality profile, you achieve a couple of goals. One, you cultivate goodwill among the passive talent pool and strengthen your employment brand. Two, you educate your future employees.
When your candidates receive a text inviting them to schedule an interview, they are ready.
Doing things differently: The value of customized interviews.
Your hiring managers can easily spend several hours every month conducting interviews. How much guidance do those folks have going in? Think of it this way: Would you say that these conversations are evidence-based?
Many times, interviews end up being uneventful. They tend to go well for candidates who happen to be good at small talk. But what’s the value-add? You typically gain no actionable information that your organization can make use of once a candidate is on the payroll.
If interviewers can instead base their questions on personality data, those conversations can quickly go to what matters. Maybe a candidate isn’t as outgoing as top performers in a role. But can they identify communication strategies they’ve used before, or examples of how they’ve succeeded in a public-facing role?
Let’s go back to the scenario of a retailer hiring sales assistants.
Before a candidate arrives for an interview, your manager has already reviewed their personality data. Let’s say that person is a great fit in some ways, but their results indicate that they are an “outside of the box” thinker who enjoys change. You know that in order to be happy and successful sales assistants, workers have to follow directions. There’s not much room for “shaking things up.”
Instead of ending the interview with little more than “she likes our brand” and “she’s available for evening shifts” as the takeaways, both the hiring manager and the candidate can use the time to understand if there’s a match here. Since your candidate has been thinking about their personality strengths, you’ve given them a head start in this mental work. Some folks will self-select out of the pool, recognizing they’re not the right fit.
These days, candidates are a valuable commodity. We get it. Here’s another possibility. Instead of letting that “weak-fit” candidate walk away, ask: Is this person a better fit for a different role? When you compare personality results to benchmarks for each of your job titles, you can see at a glance how the candidate matches to each job. Not likely to thrive on the sales floor? That individual might be well-suited to working as a delivery driver.
In the end, you’ve set up your candidates for success. You’ve steered them in the best directions for them. In turn, they’ve thought about what life on the job will be like, what they’ll enjoy, and what will be more of a challenge. They’re ready to lean into the plusses, but they’re also prepared for the minuses. When applicants have more insights about the on-the-job experience, they’re much more likely to stick around.
Beyond the hire: Using data to guide the workday.
Information from the application process doesn’t have to be forgotten once a job offer is delivered. Let’s return to our sales assistant candidates. This time, think about the store managers they’ll go on to work with.
Those supervisors benefit from the personality data of their new hires. For example, that data might reveal that one new worker loves a fast pace. The manager can make a good prediction that this employee will enjoy working during the store’s busiest periods.
Consider how the workday would look if you were a retail manager with a full slate of personality data about every onboarding team member.
You would know who’s a good fit for backlogged tasks during quieter periods, who should monitor security protocols, and who’s perfect for making loyal customers feel special. Rather than relying on intuition or taking weeks to discern this through trial and error, you could immediately hit all the right notes with your team.
A data-driven approach can be full of these examples of team members “clicking” into place. Not only are you utilizing staffers in smart ways, you’ve got happy employees who prioritize what they do well while avoiding triggers that risk low satisfaction and poor performance.
Career paths aren’t the same for everyone.
Given today’s challenging labor environment, the first few weeks on the job are likely an important time to ensure that workers don’t quickly bounce. First, distinguish your organization before day one with a person-centered and informative candidate experience. From there, make data-driven management decisions.
What happens next? When managers continue to use personality data, career paths can be shaped into just-right fits for team members.
Let’s take a final look at a new sales assistant.
That individual is now enjoying the bustling environment of busy shifts on the sales floor. We know that while some employees size up well for a path toward a leadership position, that’s not for everyone. An otherwise successful team member might dislike giving other people feedback. Or they may worry about creating conflict. At the same time, they are great at that “outside of the box” thinking.
Imagine giving that employee a challenge: Design several square feet’s worth of seasonal merchandise in the main display.
Over time, the sales assistant is growing in the role, taking on a new responsibility that’s customized for who they are and what they do best. They’re not standing still, they have an engaging path all their own.
And it all began with a personality assessment.
The status quo has got to go.
As every month sees more US workers walk away from their jobs, employers have no choice but to step up to the challenge.
Expectations are different now, so the way we respond to the talent pipeline must be too. As we recognize the need to approach the workforce in a more human way, tossing aside the old playbooks means treating candidates as individuals with unique strengths. Personalization is an important step.
One-size-fits-all isn’t good enough anymore. It’s a new way of thinking about the workplace: Combine technology with a personal touch. Whether you’re looking for a job, recruiting new hires, or managing a team of employees, there's a lasting benefit.