Employers overlooking job-seeker wellbeing

Job seekers should be given more respect by prospective employers, writes Dunedin woman Philippa Wright.

Anyone who has shared or lived the experience of searching for employment recognises the need for patience and the rollercoaster of hope and disappointment.

I am acutely aware of the challenges for jobseekers and how a few simple employer practices would ease the situation and deliver the employer a positive staff member who feels valued and ready to contribute.

Job seekers have the right to have their applications acknowledged in a timely manner and to be advised of the outcome, ideally with feedback especially if they have been interviewed, and in many cases this is not happening.

My thoughts on this matter are drawn through experience having worked as an educator with secondary, tertiary and adult learners. Being trained in career guidance I have seen many young persons' transition into the workforce and have advised others exploring new roles. Having sat on the other side of the interview desk as an employer and manager I also understand the challenges of employing staff.

Contemplating the job-seeking experience, it's useful to consider the value of employment and why we get out of bed each morning and deny ourselves a day of leisure and time with loved ones.

The obvious answer is money but as life goes on there are many who would rather live simply and be happy than well-heeled and at times miserable at work. The need to pay bills aside, the second reason for paid employment is around a sense of identity as our euro-centric society makes assumptions and has expectations of character associated with vocational choices.

Social interaction, connection and feeling part of a team is important to self-esteem and provides a sense of purpose, especially for job seekers trained for specific professional roles. We all know those who struggle with their workplace but stick around as they enjoy the people they work with or because they see the potential for personal and professional growth. The other undeniable reality is that almost all humans function more effectively with routine in their daily lives.

The theory of wellbeing is widely accepted and actively promoted by the Mental Health Foundation which identifies five contributors to personal wellbeing. Feeling connected, giving time to others, continued learning and being active by doing what you can and enjoying what you do. The final strategy is gratitude and acknowledging whatever gives us joy.

There is a striking similarity between the value of work and our wellbeing, making it important for society to consciously act to ease and support transition into paid employment.

This may seem like common sense but the reality is different as many job applications go unacknowledged and it is not uncommon for employers to either actively ignore or forget to inform those who have undertaken work trials or interviews about the outcome.

Sadly, there are significant local employers guilty of this and I am calling this out as not only unprofessional but rude and disrespectful of the efforts made by applicants.

I hope raising this issue encourages employers to view the process through the eyes of the applicant. Job seekers invest time and hopes for the future and their life plans are suspended until the outcome is heard and they may also be hesitant to apply for other opportunities in the interim.

Given our technological resources all that is required is a blind copy email response for applications received and another for those not shortlisted. Personal contact and feedback is more appropriate and respectful for those interviewed and it is only fair that reasonable timeframes be notified for all advertised roles.

Employers also stand to benefit through basic courtesies being remembered which improves workplace culture. Having employees feeling valued and connected to the workplace on their arrival reduces the chance of poor google feedback on their organisation, and there is also the knowledge they are acting with integrity and making a positive contribution to the wellbeing of our community.


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