“We make predictions very carefully,” explains Sara Cauwenbergh, Talent Strategy Advisor Benelux at Indeed. “In recent years, labour market supply and demand have been heavily dependent on what is happening in our society. And that is a lot: the pandemic, the current economic situation and the war in Ukraine. All of them are disruptive events. So can we no longer predict anything at all? Yes, we can. At Indeed, we see three challenges that we shall have to embrace in the future no matter what: labour market tightness, diversity and job happiness.”
The needle and the haystack
Labour market tightness is nothing new. On the one hand, an ageing population creates a structural labour shortage and, on the other, we see that the gap remains between available candidates and vacancies. A lot of companies are recruiting employees from across the border, although the success of this approach depends on the type of profile you are looking for.
Sara is convinced that AI helps shape a sustainable solution. “Contrary to what a lot of people think, it can be easily integrated into any recruitment strategy. For example, the system behind the Indeed platform continuously collects information by accurately tracking jobseekers’ click behaviour. Thus, every jobseeker gets personalised results. Even if two people search on the word ‘operator’, for example.
How does this process help reduce labour market tightness? When an organisation starts working with us, they gain insight into the keywords that trigger potential candidates. Each vacancy can then be optimised without the need for complicated programs. Vacancies become more specific and reach suitable candidates faster.”
A second hot topic in the HR world is diversity. Embracing inclusion will undoubtedly become more important in the coming years. Within a lot of companies, diversity is already seen as a great asset. It brings together people with different backgrounds, experiences and perceptions, leading to diverse ways of thinking and perspectives. However, it is not always easy to achieve diversity effectively.
“A lot of biases still creep into the job application process. A certain look, clothing style or name forms the first impression in seconds, often unconsciously. Even though it is often incorrect. An excellent candidate can thus disappear among the other applicants and that is a shame.”
At Indeed, diversity ranks high on the agenda, Sara continues: “Internally, all salaries are public and each year we look at what the gap is between men and women and what role ethnicity plays. We think concretely about the steps that are needed and possible to promote equality in the future.”
The same approach is also being implemented on the Indeed platform. “We use AI to reason more objectively and set up a uniform process. For example, consider a job interview where your CV is not shared with the company in advance or the ability to blur your background during an interview. No rocket science, but effective handles for approaching each candidate in a neutral way and giving them a fair chance.”
In addition, diversity is also about accessibility. “Indeed indexes all online vacancies four times a day, screens them for a number of quality requirements and then posts them on indeed.com,” Sara says. “All vacancies can thus be found by all jobseekers. We also provide different ways to apply. Think, for example, of scheduling a virtual interview, which lowers the threshold for a lot of people to take the plunge.”
Transparency is key
Finally, we can no longer ignore work happiness. “For us, there are three main pillars that define work happiness,” Sara explains. “Financial, physical and mental well-being. Most of our research focuses on the latter component and, unfortunately, the figures are not encouraging. As many as 46% of employees have already suffered a mental health breakdown.
For a long time, talking about your mental state remained taboo. Today, we advise every company to incorporate well-being structurally into the organisation. Certainly within the HR policy. It is the only way to create the basis to provide support in order to talk about problems. Annual surveys are a good starting point here.”
And there is more. “We are no longer looking for a job with good salaries and nice conditions,” Sara continues. “We want to work at a company that matches our intrinsic values and look for a job that is an extension of who we are. We want to feel part of the organisation and value togetherness.
Moreover, Gen Z specialises in scoring the best deals online. As with their shopping, they screen the companies they are interested in beforehand. Companies that strongly promote promising values online, but fail to express this internally as well, have little chance of bringing in candidates. Transparency and authenticity will therefore become indispensable in the coming years, and here too AI can help make vacancies both attractive and fair.”