November 30, 2018

The Roundup: Voicemail interviews, employees’ holiday wish lists, and more open office backlash

In this week's Roundup, employers are starting to do one-sided, automated interviews. Plus, how employees feel about the holidays at work, and more evidence that open offices negatively impact productivity.

Job interviews via…voicemail?

In an effort to streamline the hiring process in a super-tight labor market, employers are turning to automated, one-way phone interviews, the Wall Street Journal reports.

It’s essentially a one-sided interview done by voicemail – prospective candidates answer questions, but there’s no human on the other side of the line.

The WSJ dives into the benefits and challenges of this approach. From an employer perspective, speed seems to be the primary driver. Employers who have adopted the practice are doing it because they feel they need to jump on top talent fast. The benefit of this type of phone interview in their eyes is that candidates can take them at any time of day, don’t have to worry about their appearance, and are more effective than video interviews in some cases, reporter Chip Cutter writes.

Candidates say they find the method “impersonal,” and that it’s hard to gauge how they’re doing. Consider this feedback from one job-seeker featured in the article:

“Phone interviews are hard enough,” Mr. Lichty said. “When you throw this automated thing out there, it’s like, ’Wow, I have no idea how this is going at all. I don’t know if I’m killing it with my dad jokes, or if should I just leave them out.’ ”

Additionally, candidates said these on-demand interviews were “frustrating” because they couldn’t ask questions to better understand the company.

Considering this “efficiency” has the potential to push candidates away, there’s likely a better approach to streamlining and automating the interview process if speed is the goal. It’s true that “recruiting exhaustion” is a real thing – so instead of focusing on impersonal use of technology, employers should consider how technology can enhance and speed up their human-to-human interactions.

For some tips related to recruiting best practices, check out Ceridian’s recent report, The optimal recruiting experience.

What your employees really want for the holidays

Most employees – 90% (!) – would prefer a bonus or extra vacation days than a holiday party. That’s a finding from Randstad’s survey last year about what U.S. employees really want for the holidays. Additionally, 62% of employees feel obligated to attend the company party, and younger employees feel even more pressure to attend.

That said, employees do enjoy festive gatherings – 87% of workers said these celebrations give them an opportunity to interact with coworkers and build relationships. That feeling of togetherness includes giving back to the community – almost 75% of employees said that it’s important for their companies to participate in philanthropic or charitable initiatives during the holiday season.

The survey of over 1,000 employees also found that 77% of respondents said that their company is sensitive to diversity and inclusion, considering different cultures and religious beliefs when planning holiday celebrations. On this point, HR Dive notes that some companies have flexible holiday programs, which let employees take off the holidays they actually observe, instead of the “typical” days off.

Also, no surprise here – when asked what they love most about work holidays, 70% of workers said “time off.”

Creative people need silence to be productive – and open offices aren’t helping

Fast Company writes that creative people need quiet to do their best work – the latest finding in a wealth of research about why open offices can negatively affect employees’ productivity and health.

File-sharing company WeTransfer surveyed more than 10,000 of its users about how their creativity works, and found that quiet “was the most important requirement for creative people to do good work.”

“There’s a fundamental contradiction between creatives’ desire for quiet and the reality of today’s open offices. This disconnect between what creatives want and what offices provide has led to a whole new suite of products, from acoustically padded wall partitions to good old-fashioned headphones, to provide a respite from the noise.”

For tips on how to fix your open office environment, check out this post: The open office debate: if you do it, follow these basic rules

Danielle Ng-See-Quan

Dani is the Senior Manager, Content Marketing at Ceridian.

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