Recruiting a more diverse workforce

Recruiting a diverse workforce isn’t just socially responsible: It’s a necessity, given globalization, the rapid increase in minority, older worker, and women candidates and the 70% job less rate among disabled people. Doing so means taking special steps to recruit people from these categories. Many employers, such as Eastman Kodak Co.., include disability under their diversity initiative umbrellas. This reflects recognition that disabled people represent a large, untapped pool of potential employees.

Single Parents:

About two thirds of all single parents are in the workforce today; this group is an important source of candidates.

Attracting single parents begins with understanding the problems they face in balancing work and family life. In one survey,

Many described falling into bed exhausted at midnight without even minimal time for themselves. They often needed personal sick time or excused days off to care for sick children. As one mother noted, “I don’t have enough sick days to get sick”.

Respondents viewed themselves as having “less support, less personal time, more stress and greater difficulty balancing job and home life than other working parents. Yet most were hesitant to dwell on their single parent status at work; they feared that doing so would affect their jobs and careers adversely.

Given such concerns, the first step in attracting (and keeping) single mothers is to make the workplace as user friendly for them as is practical. Schedule flexibility can help. The problem is that for some single mothers, this flexibility can help but it will not be sufficient to really make a difference in their ability to juggle work and family schedules. In addition to flexibility employers can and should train supervisors to be aware of and sensitive to the sorts of challenges single parents face. As two researchers conclude, very often the single mother with her supervisor and co-worker is a significant factor influencing whether she perceives the work environment to be supportive. Ongoing support groups at which single parents can share their concerns also help.

Older workers:

When it comes to hiring older workers, employers don’t have much choice. Over the next few years, the fastest growing labor force segment will be those from 45 to 64 year sold. Those aged 25 to 34 will decline by almost three million, reflecting fewer births in the late 1960s and early 1970s. On the positive side, a survey by AARP (now of the most powerful lobbies in Washington) and SHRM concluded that older workers tend to have lower absenteeism rates, more reliability, and better work habits than younger workers. Further more, it’s not just the workforce the overall population is getting older as well. Firms like Home Depot capitalize on this by hiring older employees, who serve as a powerful draw to baby boomer shoppers by mirroring their knowledge and perspective.

It therefore makes sense for employers to encourage older workers to stay (or to come to work at the company). Here employers should structure reward systems with older employees in mind. People’s occupational needs and preferences change as they grow older. One survey found that getting a raise was the main motivator for 11% of those born in the 1960s and 1970s, but just 1% for those over 65. Flexibility was the main concern for 71% of baby boomers with those who continue working preferring to do so part time. At Wrigley Company, workers over 65 can progressively shorten their work schedules: another company uses mini shifts to accommodate those interested in working les than full time. The following New Work force feature illustrates another aspect of this. Retention aids for improving the chances of attracting and retaining older workers include:

1) Management training to address age bias in the workplace.
2) Phased retirement that allows workers to ease out of the workforce.
3) Portable jobs for snowbirds who wish to live in warmer climates in the winter
4) Part time projects for retirees.
5) Full benefits for part timers.
As always in recruiting projecting the right image is also essential here. For example, one study examined the impact of various organizational policies on the likelihood of attracting retirees interested in bridge employment (work after formal retirement). Using a mock newspaper ad, the researchers found that writing the ad so that it sent the message that the company was older worker–friendly was important. The most effective ads for attracting older workers emphasized schedule flexible and accentuated the firms’ equal opportunity employment statement. This was much more effective than adding statements alluding to giving retirees opportunities to transfer their knowledge to the new work setting.