Dr. Benjamin Granger
Chief Workplace Psychologist | Head of EX Advisory Services Qualtrics Follow

On today’s episode of the RecruitingDaily Podcast, William Tincup speaks to Dr. Granger from Qualtrics about candidate preferences, what workers want.

Some Conversation Highlights:

So we wanted to understand with candidate preferences, given what’s going on right now, what is it that candidates are seeking when they look for a new job? And on the surface, it’s a few things that won’t surprise anybody. Pay. Pay is really important to people. It’s very salient. It’s top of the conscious right now. Work life balance is also very salient to people and these are the things we’re hearing from them in these surveys.

We’ve been seeing these come up in other studies that have nothing to do with candidate preferences, but just in the employee experience. Pay appears to be very salient to people right now in our recent research. Work life balance. But what I would also say is when you combine this most recent study, which by the way, it was focused on Americans who are either actively searching for a new job or expect to search for a new job in the next six month time period. So that’s the specific population we were looking at. But when we combine that with some of the other work that we’ve done over the last couple of years around candidate experience, candidate expectations, and candidate preferences, there’s a few hidden things that I think are important to call out. It’s not just about pay and balance, but when we dive into some of the more, I would say, sophisticated analyses, we’ve talked about this in the past, William, doing trade off analyses for example.

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Tune in for the full conversation.

Listening time: 25 minutes

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Announcer (00:00):

This is Recruiting Daily’s Recruiting Live Podcast where we look at the strategies behind the world’s best talent acquisition teams. We talk recruiting, sourcing and talent acquisition. Each week we take one overcomplicated topic and break it down so that your three year old can understand it. Make sense? Are you ready to take your game to the next level? You’re at the right spot. You’re now entering the mind of a hustler. Here’s your host, William Tincup.

 

William Tincup (00:34):

Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup, and you’re listening to the Recruiting Daily Podcast. Today we have Benjamin on from Qualtrics. He’s a returning guest, so evidently the last couple times haven’t been too traumatic. And our topic today is What Workers Really Want. So Benjamin, would you do us a favor, introduce yourself and Qualtrics? And then we’ll jump into the topic.

 

Dr. Granger (00:57):

Of course. Benjamin Granger, I am the chief workplace psychologist at Qualtrics. I also lead the employee experience advisory services practice. So we get in very deep with our customers to try to dive into helping them solve employee experience problems that they have. And by extension, we do a lot of work around the candidate experience because we feel like that is a critical part of the employee journey holistically. So really excited to dive back into the topic. And yes, I’m not totally scarred, William from the last two, but there’s been a lot of work in the background that you don’t know about. So.

 

William Tincup (01:36):

Everyone goes through therapy one way or another. It’s a good thing. I think it should be-

 

Dr. Granger (01:42):

It is a good thing, and we should talk about it.

 

William Tincup (01:44):

It should be mandatory. I think as you get your driver’s license, you have to at least put 10 hours of therapy in. Just everybody’s healthier if that happens. But then again, I’ve kind of view that not everyone should get a driver’s license or have the ability to use a driver’s license. Not everybody should have the ability to vote or not everyone should have the ability to have babies. So I’m a little bit restrictive in some of those things, but we don’t have to talk about that stuff. Let’s talk about what workers really want. Obviously because of what y’all do at Qualtrics, y’all sit on a ton of data. So let’s start with, well, your current finger on the pulse of what workers really want. Let’s go top level and then we’ll go drill down into some things.

 

Dr. Granger (02:31):

Perfect. I think the study that we just recently conducted was in partnership with SAP Success Factors, who’s one of our real strategic partners here. And that’s exactly what we were trying to find out is given the environment that we’re in right now, particularly the economic environment, and also just coming off of what we’ve been through over the last two and a half and three years, obviously this is a very unique time and it’s hard to look back at a similar point in history. So we wanted to understand, given what’s going on right now, what is it that candidates are seeking when they look for a new job? And on the surface, it’s a few things that won’t surprise anybody. Pay. Pay is really important to people. It’s very salient. It’s top of the conscious right now. Work life balance is also very salient to people and these are the things we’re hearing from them in these surveys.

(03:31)
We’ve been seeing these come up in other studies that have nothing to do with candidate preferences, but just in the employee experience. Pay appears to be very salient to people right now in our recent research. Work life balance. But what I would also say is when you combine this most recent study, which by the way, it was focused on Americans who are either actively searching for a new job or expect to search for a new job in the next six month time period. So that’s the specific population we were looking at. But when we combine that with some of the other work that we’ve done over the last couple of years around candidate experience, candidate expectations, there’s a few hidden things that I think are important to call out. It’s not just about pay and balance, but when we dive into some of the more, I would say, sophisticated analyses, we’ve talked about this in the past, William, doing trade off analyses for example.

(04:34)
When we do those types, when we use a more sophisticated methodology like a trade off analysis, we see other things bubble up to the top, that there’s value alignment, that what I value as an individual is also what my future employer values. Using that as a lens to find those jobs that are really important, value alignment might be more important to people than it ever was. I think we have a lot of data to suggest that. The social aspects of work are also really critical. When forced to make trade-offs, people generally will favor the relationship that they have with their team, their relationship that they’re going to have with their manager over things like workplace flexibility and pay and even benefits. So we have to remember that these surveys tell us what are people interested in, what’s top of the people’s consciousness? And these are really important, but when you dig deeper and you start to drive into what’s subconsciously driving people’s decisions, you get a little bit of a different answer.

 

William Tincup (05:41):

I love that. So let’s deal with pay and balance just to start off with, obviously pay becoming more transparent in some places, not everywhere obviously, but you can see some of the laws that have been acted, job descriptions and Indeed wanting more pay range, pay specific things. So on one level, on the candidate side, there’s an expectation of a layer of transparency. Might not be absolute transparency, but just a layer of transparency so that they understand what the role before they even go into it because prior to all of this, it was based on your negotiation skills, which has always been fascinating to me that the job you do that has nothing to do with negotiation somehow in your negotiation for a job that it now you’re being graded on criteria that has nothing to do with the job you’re being asked to do. So let’s start and with pay and kind of dip our toes into a little bit more of what’s the expectation from both candidates and even what you’ve seen with employees with your data.

 

Dr. Granger (06:58):

Well, first I’d say, I think you’re right. What we are hearing from our customers that we work closely with is the transparency is a piece of feedback that they’re consistently getting from their customers, or I’m sorry, from their candidates. When they get feedback that’s about, maybe it’s identifying something that their candidates didn’t see go well or a piece of really damning feedback that they see show up on a social site about their candidate experience. A lot of it has to do with transparency or lack of transparency or something tangential to that. If we’re telling someone, “Hey, you’re going to hear back from us in two days,” and you don’t. Right. Transparency’s kind of underlying that. Are you being upfront about that? Are you setting clear and consistent expectations? That all kind of speaks to the fairness, the perceptions of fairness that candidates see in the process.

(07:55)
Those things say a lot. What we’re also seeing on the flip side of that is it looks like, based on the data I’ve consumed, that there’s still a relatively small percentage of companies who are actually putting out salary ranges or putting out compensation ranges, despite the fact that we are seeing signals from candidates that they’d like that. They would like to see that. They would appreciate that sort of transparency, that fail fast mindset. “Hey, if this is not a good fit for me, let’s not waste our collective time on it. Let me find out if this is going to meet my salary, my compensation needs.” Then let’s move on to the really important things, which is value alignment, which is how is it going to be day to day working with the individuals, the social aspects of work, but that barrier of, is this going to be what I need, compensation and benefits wise, to take care of my family? That’s kind of that barrier for entry. And candidates are demanding more transparency when it comes to that.

 

William Tincup (08:57):

Love that. Okay, so we’ll obviously touch on pay a couple more times. Balance is the other thing that I think is really interesting because one of the things that I think pre-COVID, there was this idea, I’ve always called it a myth, so destroy this as you wish, but basically this idea that there’s such a thing as work life balance. With COVID, I thought that the world kind of got closer to what I think is really going on, which is work life integration. So it’s not so much the balance of the two as it is how they coexist with one another. Meaning your wellness, physical health, mental, financial, all that stuff, your life, family, all the other stuff that goes on in life and in work.

(09:50)
Instead of those things being somehow in a teeter-totter and balanced on some type of nirvana like perfection, which I’ve again, you can tell with my sarcasm that I don’t believe that there ever was such a thing, nor is such a thing. How do people… Because you’ve got data, I’ve just got my opinion, so I’m dangerous. You actually got data. How do you reconcile balance? When people are talking about balance, what do they really mean by balance?

 

Dr. Granger (10:27):

Oh yeah, great. I love the way you framed that question. The first thing I’ll say is taking a step back is during the pandemic, when we studied people who were in remote and hybrid environments, one of the things that they talked about, and I think it was somewhere close to the 50 to 60% of American workers were saying that they were having difficulty drawing the line between when to work and when not to work. And that was becoming more difficult. That’s not surprising to me, somebody who’s worked, I’ve been remote for almost a decade in my career. That’s not surprising at all to me. I do think it is more difficult, and that’s especially true of people who were used to working in a brick and mortar environment and then all of a sudden went to remote or a hybrid. So that’s still a concern for people.

(11:27)
I think the balance, I don’t get hung up on the semantics very much. I do think words matter, but I personally from the research I’ve seen and just kind of my personal reflection on this as a psychologist, I do prefer the word integration. I think our chief people officer, I don’t think she would mind me saying she’s a big fan of that as well. She kind of stays away from that word balance because I think a lot of the same things you brought up, but what people mean when they say balance is what’s important. I don’t think-

 

William Tincup (12:01):

It’s their interpretation of the word.

 

Dr. Granger (12:04):

That’s right. There’s some things that I think people mean when they say that. I think what they mean is that there’s clear expectations and norms that if I do these things, I’m going to be compensated, rewarded. And for example, going above and beyond, to what degree? What type of above and beyond behaviors are really critical or valued at the organization? Is it leaning in to help a colleague? Is it staying a little bit late to help make sure that a customer’s issue gets resolved? Is it checking my email while I’m on vacation? Some of those, I would say in most organizations, the former too, helping a coworker, helping a customer, those should be things that organizations be very upfront and explicit about. These are really valuable to the company. These are really valuable to your coworkers, to your customers. These are really valuable to the company.

(13:11)
And guess what? They’re valuable to you as an individual because these are the ways that you can add a lot of value to your company, to your customers. And that brings people fulfillment. But then there’s a line that needs to be drawn. What are the things that you should not do and we don’t expect you to do? Like working on vacation, like checking email after hours. And what’s ironic about all that is a lot of the things that people feel like they may need to do and frankly shouldn’t like working on vacation or working while they’re sick, not many companies have gotten to the point where they’re making that really explicit and clear.

(13:54)
They’re not seeing leaders model that in every company. I’ve seen some great examples. I’ve seen some really bad examples over the last couple of years. That’s what I think people mean when they say balance or when they say integration is they would like clarity on guidance from the company. What are those things that we should be doing and what are those things that we absolutely should not? And then have the frameworks and the policies in place to make sure that you don’t get dinged when you don’t check your email for a week while on vacation because you shouldn’t.

 

William Tincup (14:27):

I love all of this. So especially as it relates to the expectations of both candidates and employees. Now flip this to the expectation of managers. What is their expectations currently if we have data there? What’s their expectations as it relates to pay and balance?

 

Dr. Granger (14:52):

We don’t have a lot of data specifically on that around what managers feel or people leaders feel like. But what we do know for sure is that when it comes to future of work types of decisions where work it’s done, when work gets done, how work gets done and how it gets measured. We have seen some gaps between what frontline non-people leaders believe and what people leaders and managers and senior leaders and organizations believe. Generally, the general trend we see there is that people leaders, senior organizational leaders, tend to have slightly higher expectations when it comes to things like coming into the office, how often people should come into the office, things like should we monitor the work people do if they’re in remote.

(15:49)
So we have seen some gaps. That tells me that there’s something about… And I don’t know where the source of the problem is necessarily, but someone’s mindset needs to change slightly. And maybe that’s somewhat on the leader side. We need to shift our mindset as people leaders about what people need and expect today. And then in fairness, I think all of us as employees, all of us as consumers, need to also realize that, hey, even though my expectations are being driven by what I’ve been reading about what other companies do during this period, taking a second to step back and say, “Is that realistic for the company that I work for? Or is that realistic for the company I’m about to apply to do immediately?” Right. Or is it enough to know that they’re on this path? They’re moving in that direction. So I don’t have a lot to say there, William, but that’s what I have seen. And I do think there’s both groups, if we bifurcated by leaders and non-leaders, I suspect that both groups need to take a half step toward each other in this respect.

 

William Tincup (17:04):

So outside of pay and balance, what are some of the other low hanging fruit that y’all have seen that would help exceed candidates and employees expectations from their desires? Because some of that desires is explicit, some of it’s implicit, some of it we’re not mind readers. So what are the things can we do… If we’ve got pay and balance and those expectations are being met, exceeded, et cetera, what are some of the things that we can do that would be helpful?

 

Dr. Granger (17:37):

Well, I’ll take this in two, maybe two separate directions. The first is to point out when we did some pretty extensive research over the last two years around the candidate experience and what makes a good candidate experience versus what makes a really poor one. Another way to answer that question or another question to ask is what are job candidates really sensitive to? In other words, what are they going to look for to determine whether it was a good or a bad experience? And there was six that came up. I’ll rattle these off fairly quickly. Fairness was one. Do people… And not just around diversity, equity, inclusion, but the fairness in that, hey, I went through the hiring process and I got a fair shake. I got a fair shot to show off my skills and abilities and knowledge that’s relevant to the job so that they’re very sensitive to that. They got a fair shake.

 

William Tincup (18:40):

Right. Which don’t we all feel that way?

 

Dr. Granger (18:44):

Hundred percent. And one of the things-

 

William Tincup (18:47):

Or should we all feel that way, I should say? Go ahead.

 

Dr. Granger (18:52):

I think we should, and one of the things within fairness that I brought people’s attention to is in the academic literature we often will talk about justice, which is basically the same thing as fairness, but there’s a couple of different types of justice, but two that I think are really interesting here is distributive justice and procedural justice. Distributive justice has to do with, do we think the determination, the final answer was fair. In other words, I apply for a job. I’m super excited about it, but I don’t get the job.

(19:29)
I’m upset, right? I’m annoyed. I’m upset. Maybe I feel like the decision wasn’t fair. Then there’s procedural justice, which is I’m looking at how the decision’s being made. I have visibility and transparency into that decision making process, and I felt like that was fair. And generally what we find is that even when the outcome’s not great, I didn’t get the job, for example, but I felt like I was treated fairly. I felt like I was able to showcase my skills. That tends to be more important to people that the process or the procedural justice was there. So I think that’s a really important thing for talent acquisition people to think about is procedurally, are we communicating and are we being really transparent and clear about how the decision’s going to be made?

 

William Tincup (20:20):

And you had five more or you want to stop-

 

Dr. Granger (20:22):

Technology. So we spent too much time on fairness.

 

William Tincup (20:25):

You’re good, you’re good.

 

Dr. Granger (20:27):

But I think that one’s really important. Technology was another, that it’s seamless, it’s easy to use. Clarity was a third. I understand what’s happening and I understand what’s going to happen. The fourth was timeliness. And that’s tied with clarity if, “Hey, we’re going to let you know in a week,” let them know in a week. If you don’t… And we saw that in this study, and I think you probably saw some of those stats, William, there’s a significant proportion of American workers was saying they get ghosted. I think it was like 65% or something like that.

 

William Tincup (20:59):

Hundred percent. I literally just did a podcast on ghosting. So it’s top of mind, which was fantastic because we looked at it from a candidate, a recruiter, and a hiring manager. And what are the current views of ghosting? Like what’s taboo? Yeah, it was really fun. Yeah. So fairness, technology, clarity, timeliness, and then-

 

Dr. Granger (21:26):

Attractiveness.

 

William Tincup (21:27):

Okay.

 

Dr. Granger (21:29):

Yep. The fifth was attractiveness. Basically, what was the emotional interactions that they had with people? When I interacted with the hiring manager, when I interacted with the recruiters, it was good emotional interpersonal interactions. And then the sixth and the final one was personalization. And basically a good summary of this is they were treated like a human. They weren’t treated like a “candidate.” They were treated like an individual.

 

William Tincup (21:55):

Well, a separate podcast that we have to do is how do we hit all six of these with automation, with AI, machine learning, NOP, bots because it’s like all of those are… Well, some of them you can kind of touch with outside of humanity, but most of them are going to be human driven, or at least it seems that way, or at least until AI is actually intelligent, not it’s nascent phase. So the question I have for you right now is in the data on those six things, did you see anything that kind of came out of the data as generational or gender? Were any of those things tilted towards one generation or another or tilted towards one gender or another?

 

Dr. Granger (22:43):

When we looked at that particular study and the six drivers, there was a surprising consistency across the different demographics.

 

William Tincup (22:52):

I can see that.

 

Dr. Granger (22:53):

Ethnicity, gender, and even geography, which that’s really interesting. That’s one of those cases where as a fellow academic nerd, we don’t often get excited about null results, but this is one where null results are really interesting.

 

William Tincup (23:11):

Yeah, that in and of itself becomes a story.

 

Dr. Granger (23:14):

Exactly. Exactly. These are universal essentially.

 

William Tincup (23:18):

Last question on these six things is are they equally weighted or is there a ranking to these?

 

Dr. Granger (23:26):

Oh, good. Yeah, that’s a good one. Basically in the way we’ve productized that piece, we consider them equally weighted. However, what I will say is that in the research, in terms of if you are a talent acquisition professional, if you’re a hiring manager and you’re thinking through these six things, where do you start? Personally, I would start with the procedural justice or fairness, transparency, clarity, timeliness. If you can take care of those things, you don’t have to invest in a bunch of technology like you were saying earlier. That will be great at scale, but in the short term, focus on giving people really clear view of what that process is going to look like. And then do what you say you’re going to do. That’s a great place to start as foundational.

 

William Tincup (24:22):

Drops mic, walks off stage. Benjamin, thank you so much. This has been wonderful.

 

Dr. Granger (24:28):

As always a pleasure, William.

 

William Tincup (24:30):

And thanks for everyone listening to the Recruiting Daily Podcast. Until next time.

 

Announcer (24:35):

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Authors
William Tincup

William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


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