Last month, we asked you, our Fresh Milk readers, to complete a brief survey expressing your opinions on a handful of contemporary workplace issues. 221 of you were kind enough to respond to the 6-question survey, and we thank you! To spur participation, we promised to have a random drawing to win a book, and, as a result, a copy of Contented Cows MOOve Faster is now on the way to the lucky winner, a reader in Italy.
The survey's first question dealt with planned hiring activity over the next 12 months. Consistent with reports of a recovery, but a slow one, 38% of survey respondents said they'll be adding to the workforce, but most of those at a modest pace. 12% will be cutting, and the vast middle ground (43%) will hold to the status quo.
Question 2 was about the prevalence of age discrimination, but we added this qualifier: "We're not saying in your organization - just in general", to allow for the old "I have this friend who has a problem" idea. Wink, wink, nod, nod. With fingers pointed toward anonymous others, just over half acknowledged that in today's tough job market, it's even tougher for the over-40 set. 37% think it's an issue, but not a big one. 6% see it as a non-issue. We suspect this last group to be in their late twenties, or living on trust funds. Either way, we're buying stock in Allergan, maker of Botox.
If you ask the folks at the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, they'll tell you, as they've testified in public hearings, that the American workforce faces "an equal opportunity plague" of age discrimination, with a 17% increase in age discrimination charges brought against employers from 2007 to 2009, coincident with the global recession. And the claims rate hasn't slowed since the US Supreme Court's 2009 ruling that reset the burden of proof bar for discrimination complaints.
The response to Question #3 was somewhat surprising. "Suppose you were considering a highly qualified applicant, and then learned that the applicant didn't have a very good credit score. What would happen to that applicant's chances of getting the job?"
The majority, 58%, said credit score would have no bearing on their hiring decision. About a third said it would, but only 1% said bad credit would be an automatic disqualifier. 10% live in a jurisdiction where it's unlawful to consider credit in hiring decisions. Not that it's not practiced in these places; it's just not legal.
As hard as we looked, we couldn't find much from reputable sources to quantify how widespread the practice of "hiring for creditworthiness" is. But anecdotal evidence leads us to believe that it is practiced more widely than the survey suggests. We recognize credit history does matter for certain jobs. But not for most. For those, the important question is, "Is an individual's credit record a valid predictor of job success?" Probably not.
The greatest degree of agreement happened on the next question: "Suppose a job applicant makes it to the interview stage, but then, for whatever reason, is not selected. Do you believe the employer should notify the applicant that he or she was not selected?" Let's emphasize that we're talking about those who actually reached the interview stage. Notifying every applicant is another question altogether.
Nearly everybody in the survey (93%) recognizes how rude and inconsiderate (not to mention un-businesslike) it is to simply blow off someone who has taken the time to be interviewed, by phone or in person. Nobody - not even one person out of 221, said it was OK not to at least call or write with a rejection. And yet we know it happens with alarming regularity. 7% said it would be nice, in a perfect world, but with so many people to interview, it's just not practical. Hmmm.
Not satisfied, I conducted an additional albeit unscientific poll. I went to 12 people whom I know personally, who have had multiple job interviews in the last year (I have a lot of unemployed friends), and asked if, during the last year, they'd received the silent treatment from a prospective employer, with whom they'd had an in-person interview. All of them had. That's right. All. Most said it was the norm, and that in only a minority of cases had the rejecting organization notified them in any way that they had not been selected. These ranged from part-time entry level positions to an executive director job in a Fortune 500 company.
Come on, folks, this is as dumb in an employer's market as it is when the shoe of opportunity is on the other foot. Moreover, it's just plain bad business. If for no other reason, we might consider trying a little harder because our reputations can be trashed with as little effort as it takes to type 138 characters and an RT!
When we asked what had happened to the "fun factor" in people's workplaces, the answers were pretty much what we might have predicted. 9% are reportedly having more fun at work than they did before the recession. 42% have maintained a certain stability in their fun, and as you might expect, 46% find work less fun than they once did. The most fun group, in our eyes, is the 3% who acknowledged never having fun at work in the first place.
Lastly, we asked "Over the last 12 months, how has the volume of e-mail you receive changed?" Nearly half (the half in which we belong) said it's much more than it was a year ago. 22% haven't noticed much difference; and an enviable 3% say they're getting less email these days. What's their secret? We don't know this - but maybe, these people have decided to quit feeding the monster. To wit, we've vowed to be more judicious about what, and how much, we email, in the hope that our incoming volume might diminish as well.
To see the complete survey results, click here.
Thanks again to all who responded. We hope this gives everyone something to consider, as we all forge ahead in the heat and haze of a Northern Hemisphere summer. To our friends in the southern half of the planet, please send your cool breezes our way.