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47% say texting is their preferred form of contact

Lack of communication from employers was one of the most frustrating aspects of the job application process for job seekers, according to research from iCIMS.

The research from iCIMS found that 80% of job seekers said getting status updates during the application process would improve their experience and improve their perception of an employer.

When it comes to contacting talent, 47% of job seekers say texting is their preferred form of communication. On the flip side, 56% ranked phone calls as their least preferred.

The survey found 36% of respondents would be more likely to click on an email from an employer that included job roles that matched their skills and experience.

Other findings included:

  • A majority of job seekers, 56%, are less likely to be a consumer of a brand if they had a bad experience applying for or interviewing for a job.
  • More than 40% described their last job search as frustrating and long.
  • 72% expect the job application process — from submitting the application to receiving an offer — to take three weeks or less.
  • 17% have already used generative AI to write a résumé or cover letter.

For the report, iCIMS surveyed nearly 1,000 US job seekers and included proprietary data from its platform.

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But youth unemployment rises

The latest labour market overview by the ONS has revealed a mixed bag of trends in the UK’s job landscape for May to July 2023. While employment rates remained resilient, youth unemployment surged, and labour disputes disrupted key sectors.

Steady employment rates
The report indicates that the UK’s employment rate stood at 75.5% during the period, though this represented a modest 0.5% decline compared to the previous quarter. This dip was primarily attributed to a decrease in full-time self-employed workers.

Payroll stability with a caveat
August of this year saw the estimate of payrolled employees holding relatively steady at 30.1 million, albeit with a minor drop of 1,000 from the revised July 2023 figure. It’s important to note that this August estimate is provisional and may undergo revisions once more data becomes available next month.

Youth unemployment up
A concerning aspect of the labour market was the 0.5% increase in the unemployment rate, which reached 4.3% during the same period. This spike was largely driven by a surge in individuals unemployed for up to 12 months.

Rise in economic inactivity
The economic inactivity rate also saw a slight increase of 0.1% during May to July 2023, reaching 21.1%. This uptick was particularly pronounced among individuals aged 16 to 24, while those inactive due to long-term sickness reached another record high. Conversely, individuals inactive due to family or home responsibilities hit a record low.

Declining job vacancies
Between June and August 2023, the number of job vacancies saw a significant decline of 64,000, totalling 989,000. This marks the 14th consecutive quarter of decreasing job opportunities.

Record pay growth
Despite these challenges, the labour market also saw record pay growth. Annual growth in regular pay (excluding bonuses) remained strong at 7.8%, consistent with the previous quarter and the highest since records began in 2001. Annual growth in employees’ average total pay (including bonuses) reached 8.5%, largely influenced by one-off payments in the NHS and Civil Service during June and July 2023. In real terms, adjusting for inflation using the Consumer Prices Index, annual growth for total pay increased by 1.2%, while regular pay saw a year-on-year rise of 0.6%.

Labour disputes impact working days
Lastly, labour disputes led to 281,000 working days lost in July 2023. The majority of these strikes occurred in the Education and Health and Social Work sectors, underscoring ongoing challenges in these crucial areas of the workforce.

As the UK continues to navigate the complexities of its labour market, these statistics provide valuable insights into the dynamics shaping the nation’s employment landscape.

Tania Bowers, Global Public Policy Director at the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) commented: “The UK remains resilient, but the labour market often acts as a bellwether for wider trends. If vacancies are going unfilled and companies cannot hire the temporary resources they need, the impact will soon be felt across the economy. The recruitment market needs to be strengthened, but that will require dedication from Government officials and influencers to drive real change quickly.”

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33% of workers over 50 report age-related bias while seeking employment

In light of a recent survey highlighting ageism in the job market, a career coach is calling on employers to undertake some introspection and root out discrimination against older jobseekers.

Lori Colee, a certified career coach at iHire, has emphasized the need for employers to reflect on their hiring practices to ensure that candidates are evaluated solely on their skills and qualifications, promoting inclusivity across all generations.

The advice comes on the heels of iHire’s latest survey, which canvassed over a thousand jobseekers and uncovered distressing statistics regarding ageism in employment. A staggering 33.6% of respondents aged 50 and above reported experiencing age-related bias while seeking employment.

Among these respondents, the manifestations of ageism were distressingly common:

  • 53.8% noted that potential employers chose younger candidates despite their equal or superior qualifications.
  • 49.2% reported receiving no response to their job applications.
  • 47.7% stated that employers failed to follow up after interviews.
  • 22.1% mentioned being offered a lower salary than their worth.

These findings mirror a global trend, underscoring the persistence of ageism in workplaces around the world. In New Zealand, a staggering 71% of individuals over 50 believe that ageism is prevalent in the workplace, with 30% believing it has worsened over the past five years. Meanwhile, in Australia, 17% of HR professionals admit to actively excluding individuals aged 65 and over from job opportunities.

Age discrimination isn’t confined to the job search phase, either. A significant 23.1% of iHire’s respondents reported experiencing ageism while on the job. These experiences included:

  • 43.6% witnessing younger or less experienced colleagues being promoted over them.
  • 35.5% overhearing inappropriate age-related comments or questions from coworkers.
  • 34% hearing similar comments or questions from their managers.
  • 28.5% being overlooked for pay raises.
  • 22.1% feeling excluded from social events or team-building activities.

While older job candidates have been recognized as a valuable talent pool, the current job market landscape presents challenges. Lori Colee highlighted that older workers are finding it increasingly difficult to secure employment amid the shifting dynamics of the Great Resignation.

To combat ageism and secure more interviews, jobseekers can employ strategies such as removing dates from their resumes and adopting a hybrid format that highlights their most recent and relevant experiences, according to Colee.

Additionally, the survey respondents offered insights into how employers could prevent ageism during the hiring process and in the workplace:

  • 54.5% advocated for the use of “blind” recruitment tools that anonymize applications, such as removing dates from resumes.
  • 51.9% supported the incorporation of skills-based assessments or sample tests in the hiring process to allow candidates to showcase their qualifications.
  • 45.5% suggested providing anti-bias and diversity training for managers.
  • 45.5% recommended encouraging collaboration, team building, and mentorship opportunities across all age groups to foster inclusivity and eliminate age-related prejudices in the workplace.
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Survey shows strong hiring intentions for Q4 2023

A recent survey has unveiled that approximately 48% of employers in Singapore have expressed their intention to expand their workforce in the fourth quarter of 2023. Despite facing the challenges posed by the country’s slowing economic climate, this positive outlook was revealed in the ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey, which included responses from 510 employers across various sectors.

According to Ms. Linda Teo, the Country Manager of ManpowerGroup Singapore, employers are maintaining a cautious yet confident stance in light of the global economic slowdown and concerns about a shortage of talent. Many organizations are adopting a “wait-and-see” approach by keeping their hiring levels steady.

Conducted in July 2023, the survey encompassed both private and public sector employers in nine different sectors. The Transport, Logistics, and Automotive sector displayed the strongest anticipation of hiring demand, with an increase of 60%. The Health Care & Life Sciences sector also exhibited robust hiring prospects, with a 53% expected increase in staffing levels. Conversely, the Consumer Goods & Services sector had the lowest anticipated hiring activity, with a modest 23% increase expected.

Among the respondents, 12% anticipated a reduction in their staffing levels, while 38% expected their headcount to remain unchanged during the fourth quarter.

The survey findings highlight that a substantial 83% of employers in Singapore are grappling with a shortage of talent, prompting 35% of them to consider hiring older workers as a solution to this issue.

Regarding the most valued skills identified by survey participants, communication, collaboration, and teamwork ranked highest at 38%, followed closely by critical thinking and analytical skills at 33%.

In addition, the survey revealed that workforce productivity is influenced significantly by successful work-life balance, with 45% of organizations recognizing it as a key driver.

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Short-term employment opportunities for holidaymakers

The Philippines and Australia have recently reached an agreement to introduce a multi-entry visa program, as reported by PhilStar Global. This innovative visa initiative is designed to facilitate short-term employment opportunities for citizens of both nations while they are on holiday, enabling them to finance their travels. The Presidential Communications Office of the Philippines disclosed that Manila and Canberra have formalized a memorandum of understanding, establishing a ‘work and holiday’ visa program. This arrangement permits eligible individuals from the Philippines and Australia to reside and work in the host country for an unextendable period of 12 months.

This particular visa program is accessible to Filipino and Australian citizens who fall within the age bracket of 18 to 31 at the time of application. To be eligible, candidates must have either completed tertiary education or accomplished a minimum of two years of undergraduate or post-secondary education. Additionally, applicants are required to satisfy health, character, and national security criteria, and they must possess medical insurance for the entire duration of their stay. The 12-month timeframe will commence from the date of their initial entry into the host country, and eligible individuals can exit and re-enter using the same visa.

Both Filipino and Australian nationals are obligated to adhere to the host country’s laws and regulations during their stay. The memorandum also stipulates that individuals holding work and holiday visas who engage in employment during their visit “will be governed by the same labor laws of the host government as local workers, subject to the employment conditions.”

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Economic indicators raise concerns for employment

According to data from The Conference Board Employment Trends Index, the job market’s future appears uncertain. While job gains may persist in the near term, indications of potential job losses are emerging.

Selcuk Eren, a senior economist at The Conference Board, highlighted the declining trend of the Employment Trends Index since March 2022. Despite the index still being relatively high, Eren cautioned that the momentum of job growth could slow and eventually turn into job losses.

Several industries are already witnessing job cuts, including information services, transportation, warehousing, and temporary employment. The number of temporary help service employees, a crucial early indicator for broader hiring trends, has steadily decreased since its peak in March 2022. Job openings, which reflect worker opportunities, are also dwindling.

In August, The Conference Board Employment Trends Index dropped to 113.02 from a revised 114.71 in July. Nevertheless, wage growth remains elevated compared to pre-pandemic levels, raising concerns about underlying consumer inflation. Eren suggested that the Federal Reserve might increase interest rates at least once before the end of 2023, potentially leading to job losses in early 2024 and higher unemployment rates.

The decline in the Employment Trends Index for August was attributed to negative contributions from six of its eight components. The “jobs hard to get” sentiment among respondents was the most significant negative contributor, followed by the ratio of involuntary part-time to all part-time workers, the percentage of firms struggling to fill positions, the number of temporary help industry hires, initial claims for unemployment insurance, and real manufacturing and trade sales.

The Employment Trends Index aggregates eight leading indicators of employment. An increase in the index generally corresponds to employment growth, while a decrease suggests the opposite trend.

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Redefining office spaces for the future

According to a report by ResumeBuilder in August 2023, approximately 98% of employers are planning to require their employees to return to the office by 2024. This mandate has been influenced by President Joe Biden’s push for federal agencies to increase in-person work, setting a precedent for the private sector, especially in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

However, this shift raises questions for employees in the district and its surroundings, especially those whose companies no longer maintain physical offices or whose roles can be performed remotely but find their home environments uninspiring. Some individuals and companies are turning to coworking or flexible office spaces to address these challenges.

In the D.C. coworking landscape, pre-pandemic favorites like The Wing’s Georgetown location have closed their doors, while other spaces like Mindspace on K Street, Hera Hub in Tenleytown, The Yard in Eastern Market, and Spaces in NOMA have gained popularity and positive reviews. WeWork, despite its turbulent history, remains a prominent player in the coworking industry, with locations throughout the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia (DMV) area.

Former WeWork CEO Sandeep Mathrani highlighted the changing dynamics of office spaces, emphasizing the value of flexibility in real estate arrangements for companies of all sizes. He acknowledged the evolving business needs and the need for intentional office design.

Adam Finch, Industrious’ Area Manager for the DMV region, echoed these sentiments, noting that companies are now competing to create appealing office environments that encourage employees to return voluntarily rather than out of necessity.

Industrious has adapted to the evolving demands, offering private phone booths and comfortable common areas to cater to various employee preferences. They’ve also observed a desire for more privacy in office spaces, leading to changes in office layout and design.

While experts debate the impact of return-to-office (RTO) policies on productivity, coworking spaces continue to gain popularity. WeWork, for instance, reported significant revenue growth, but also expressed concerns about increasing competition in the flexible workspace industry.

The question remains: is returning to the office worthwhile, and how do we measure its value? Surveys suggest that a significant portion of employees would consider quitting if required to return to the office or face RTO mandates.

One distinctive feature of flexible office spaces is their ability to foster connections not only within individual companies but also across different organizations. For instance, Industrious hosts happy hours that encourage networking and personal connections among members beyond the typical workday, strengthening bonds and friendships beyond office walls.

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Report highlights gaps in employee expectations

A recent report by Indeed reveals that despite the growing popularity of flexible work arrangements in Singapore, employers may need to better align with the preferences of their employees to meet their expectations.

The study, titled “Beyond 9 to 5: The Future of Flexibility in Work,” highlights a significant disparity between employer claims and employee perceptions. While 83% of employers assert that they offer flexibility to their staff, only 61% of employees feel that their workplace genuinely provides flexible options.

The disconnect between employers and employees regarding flexibility is particularly evident in the retail sector, where 80% of employers claim to provide flexibility, yet only 42% of employees feel they experience it. A similar gap exists in the tech, hospitality, and professional services sectors, as per the report’s findings.

Karthik Sudhakar, Strategy & Operations Lead at Indeed Singapore, emphasized the need for employers to establish a mutually beneficial alignment.

“Employees should have the opportunity to embrace flexible work arrangements without facing penalties, and employers should prioritize flexibility to attract and retain talent,” Sudhakar stated in a press release. “Ultimately, the ideal flexible work arrangement is one that serves the needs of both employees and employers.”

The report encourages employers across Singapore to make flexible work arrangements a permanent fixture in their workplaces. According to the report, the most common flexible work arrangements offered by employers include:

  1. Hybrid work (48%)
  2. Flexible working hours (44%)
  3. Remote work (19%)
  4. Location flexibility (17%)
  5. Four-day work week (15%)

Employers cited various advantages of flexible work, with the most prominent being greater staff retention and talent attraction (34%). Other benefits include increased productivity (18%), cost savings, and operational efficiency (15%), a happier workforce (15%), and the ability to foster a more diverse workforce (14%).

However, employers also acknowledged certain drawbacks of flexible work, with the most significant being the challenge of maintaining a shared culture among teams (24%). Other concerns include managing workload and deadlines (22%), handling employee expectations and fairness (15%), a lack of visibility over work (12%), potential income reduction (10%), and perceived skills gaps (6%), along with decreased productivity (4%).

Despite these challenges, the report highlights that 84% of employers remain optimistic about the continued prevalence of flexibility in the workplace.

“Hopefully, with mutual trust and respect, flexible working can enable organizations to thrive while providing a secure and accommodating environment for employees,” the report concluded.

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Resistance persists as hybrid work gains ground

In defiance of resistance from their workforce, a recent study has determined that 90% of organizations intend to establish some form of a return-to-office (RTO) policy by the conclusion of 2024.

A survey conducted by has unveiled that 51% of organizations are already mandating that certain or all employees work on-site, while an additional 39% are contemplating the implementation of such policies by the close of 2024.

These directives are met with opposition from employees who prioritize flexibility in the post-pandemic work landscape. “The end of 2024 is still a distant horizon, and the job market is in constant flux,” remarked Stacie Haller, Chief Career Advisor at, in a statement. “It remains uncertain if businesses will follow through on their RTO plans, especially considering the recent backlash against prominent employers who have compelled staff to return to physical offices.”

The Implementation of RTO Policies Organizations either in the process of implementing or having already implemented their RTO policies are now recognizing the significance of hybrid work arrangements for their employees.

According to the report, only 36% of organizations with established RTO policies require employees to be present at the office five days a week. Among those intending to introduce RTO policies, a mere 19% intend to enforce a full five-day in-person workweek.

An overwhelming majority of employers (83%) with RTO plans are presently monitoring employee attendance, whereas only 70% of those in the planning phase for office returns have intentions to track attendance.

This development follows Google’s contentious attendance policy, which includes incorporating three days of in-office attendance into performance evaluations.

Nevertheless, Haller cautioned employers that there is no universal approach to RTO policies. “It’s crucial to recognize that a one-size-fits-all approach is unsuitable for RTO,” Haller emphasized. “The majority of business leaders preparing for RTO in 2024 appear to grasp that, to retain talent, they cannot compel unwilling employees back into physical offices.”

Promoting On-Site Return One of the primary reasons for resistance to RTO policies is that employees do not consider the return to the office as worth their commute.

In an attempt to surmount this obstacle, approximately 72% of business leaders indicated their intention to offer commuter benefits to encourage in-person work, as revealed in the report. In addition, they are contemplating adopting strategies similar to those of Meta and Amazon; approximately 28% of employers stated that their company would be prepared to terminate employees who do not adhere to the RTO policy.

However, Haller cautioned employers that enforcing RTO policies on recalcitrant employees could make talent retention and recruitment more challenging. “Companies may issue threats of termination over RTO policies, but they should bear in mind that, in numerous industries, this remains a highly competitive candidate market,” Haller cautioned.

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Hybrid work policies transforming the office

Following a recent announcement from Amazon leadership, Meta, formerly known as Facebook, is set to implement a stringent hybrid work model, requiring its employees to attend the office three times a week. Commencing on September 5th, employees assigned to an office location are obligated to work from that physical workspace or engage in in-person work for the majority of their workweek.

This policy will be closely monitored by managers, with potential penalties for non-compliance. Managers will conduct monthly reviews by examining employee badges and utilizing the Status Tool. Those failing to meet the requirement will be subject to repercussions, in accordance with local laws and works council guidelines, as stated by Lori Goler, Meta’s Head of Human Resources, in a Workplace forum post earlier this month, reported by Insider.

Goler explained, “As with other company policies, repeated violations may result in disciplinary action, up to and including a performance rating drop and, ultimately, termination if not addressed.”

Notably, Amazon’s CEO also recently expressed a commitment to enforcing a three-day in-office workweek policy, aligning with the changing landscape of remote work policies within the company.

In June, Google announced that employee attendance would factor into performance evaluations, as part of an array of measures to ensure adherence to its hybrid work policy.

Various employers, including Zoom, Disney, and Starbucks, have similarly encouraged increased in-office presence. While Meta acknowledges the continued importance of distributed work in the future, the current emphasis is on enhancing the in-office working experience, according to a spokesperson cited in the Insider report.

“In the near-term, our in-person focus is designed to support a strong, valuable experience for our people who have chosen to work from the office, and we’re being thoughtful and intentional about where we invest in remote work,” the spokesperson added.

Meta initially informed its employees about its return-to-office (RTO) initiative in June, specifying that employees hired to work in an office should return for at least part of the week following the Labor Day holiday.

Months prior to this, Mark Zuckerberg had encouraged employees to collaborate in person more frequently, citing advantages over remote work. According to the Meta CEO, engineers who initially joined the company in person and later transitioned to remote work or remained in-office exhibited better performance compared to those who started remotely.

Zuckerberg remarked, “This requires further study, but our hypothesis is that it is still easier to build trust in person, and that those relationships help us work more effectively.”

As more organizations adopt return-to-office mandates, experts advise employers to invest in comprehensive and accurate workplace data to ensure a successful transition. Jeanne Meister, Executive VP at Executive Networks, previously emphasized the need for employers to make the office experience purposeful and worthy of the commute.

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