Flexibility first: a future-forward approach to culture & talent

June 23rd, 2022
Anthony A. Reynolds, Chief Executive Officer

I think Elon Musk has it wrong about working from home. Really wrong.

In leaked emails Musk wrote, “Anyone who wishes to do remote work must be in the office for a minimum (and I mean *minimum*) of 40 hours per week or depart Tesla. This is less than we ask of factory workers.”

Don’t get me wrong, Elon is smart – super smart – and I like his cars, but I disagree with this opinion for multiple reasons. Let’s start with the fact that companies don’t need to offer apples-to-apples benefits to their frontline and operational workers – they need to offer equitable benefits – and those can look different from one instance to the next. What I hear is binary thinking dictating a policy where there is so much gray. It is an undeniable fact that due to a combination of COVID, increasing migration, and globalized supply chains, we’ve entered into an era where flexibility and agility in all things has to reign supreme.

Flexibility is always an option

When I’m making choices for our team, or we’re providing guidance on best practices for our customers, I always advocate for baking flexibility into the core of the outcome. Companies that don’t will get left behind in the race for talent, and missing out on the best and brightest will crush innovation. This means you don’t just need to think about flexibility in the actual job role, you need to think about flexibility in the hiring process.

Wherever you are in your career today, at some point, you probably had to tell a little white lie to cover up sneaking off for a job interview. But it doesn’t have to be that way! For me this is a quintessential example of how leaders today have access to tools that inherently recognize the complexity of people’s lives. In 2021, 42% of the 7.5 million interviews conducted with HireVue happened outside of the traditional 9-5. No one had to lie about a dentist appointment and miss a shift. People just interviewed where they were comfortable at a time that made sense for their schedules – that’s flexibility from the start.

But what if you’re hiring people for shift work that doesn’t allow for remote work? Does the end of the OnDemand mark the end of choice? Absolutely not. Take it from Julia Pollak, a labor economist at ZipRecruiter, who recommends that companies provide options for workers to easily exchange shifts. The fact that your factory workers have to be on the floor doesn’t mean the marketing person who amplifies your products needs to be as well – the two groups just need equitable access to options that make sense for their roles.

Communicating how and when people need it

The average person checks their phone 150 times per day. We’re looking at little black mirrors between meetings, at stop lights, and on the sidelines of kid’s soccer games. Whatever your feelings are about phone addiction (quit shaming me, screen time), it’s clear that flexibility in communication is a requirement, not a nice-to-have for candidates and team members.

An example at HireVue is our MeBeBot for employees who have questions when the People Success team is offline. Team members can ask questions like, “When’s the next company holiday?” and it tells them what they need to know. For candidates this looks like asking a chatbot questions about open roles and the status of an application as dinner cooks. This year we surveyed 1,500 candidates in the United States and 65% said they feel comfortable engaging with chatbots – this type of conversational AI makes sense for our on-the-go lives.

A job search is one of the most consequential processes in a person’s life, and hearing back about the results should be seamless. Think about it, we want information when we want it, and for almost every interaction in my life – from ordering a pizza to Googling obscure pop culture references – we get feedback immediately. Employers of choice must offer text and chatbot options for the type of always-on communication that has become table stakes for every aspect of life. Candidates shouldn’t have to wait until 9-5 for the status of their employment.

Responding to inflationary pressures

I wish there was more flexibility in the price we pay at the pump or the grocery store, but I’m not a member of OPEC and you can’t barter at Target, so it’s critical that leaders take the macro-economic trends we’re seeing into account for things we can control for candidates, employees and customers.

For candidates, this means building an interview process where people can complete as many steps as possible without spending gas money, missing a shift, or taking PTO. For employees, this can take many forms, such as a benefits and compensation analysis. Or if the omni-present risk of recession turns into a nasty “capital R” recession, looking at how you can re-skill, upskill and shift employees into higher-growth areas.

We know that rising costs are affecting everyone, even our well-established world-class customers, so we’re focusing on providing the clearest picture of return on investment for using HireVue. Our customer success team is redoubling efforts to quantify ROI. By digging into the use case for one of the world’s largest consumer goods brands, the team calculated (and the company confirmed) £1 million+ annual savings by leveraging OnDemand interviews and assessments.

I’m a big fan of electric cars and space exploration, but I’m (obviously) also a proponent of transforming the world of work. The only future I want to see is one where people’s complex lives are acknowledged at every turn, and that all hinges on breaking out of binary thinking and taking a step into equitable shades of gray.