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“Be the tide,” actor-entrepreneur Ryan Reynolds told several hundred attendees during his headlining session, co-hosted by Indeed Chief Marketing Officer Jessica Jensen, at Indeed FutureWorks 2022. His straight-shooting advice for today’s job seekers and employers referenced his three decades in Hollywood, during which he struggled — and admittedly, still struggles — with self-doubt.

In his breakout television role on the 1990s sitcom “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place,” Reynolds said he had an apologetic demeanor that caused him to rein in his performances. The show’s co-creator, Danny Jacobson, took him aside one day for a pep talk: Letting yourself shine does not mean you’re taking something away from someone else. Reynolds embraced the advice and never looked back: “High tides, all boats rise…now be the tide!” he told attendees from the stage.

Since then, confidence and empathy have shaped Reynolds as a leader. In 2018, he launched his own production company, Maximum Effort, where he champions a brave, bold workplace that moves at the speed of culture and favors integrity and ideas. When it comes to hiring, he’s not big on resume checklists. “We live in a world that is increasingly gamified. I think we have an instinct to win, crush and kill,” Reynolds said. “If we disengage that instinct for a second and replace it with seeking to learn about somebody — that is a leadership quality that has quite literally changed every aspect of my life.”

Reynolds’ session at the Javits Center in Manhattan was one of more than 20 presentations and experiences on Oct. 12-13 that explored today’s hiring landscape, the future of work and employee wellbeing. Most of this year’s presenters focused on how to infuse the workplace and hiring practices with more humanity, and the event featured several noteworthy mic drop moments. We rounded up five that deserve applause — and the attention of job seekers, employees and employers alike.

Image of LaFawn Davis, Senior Vice President of ESG at Indeed, presenting at Futureworks.
“I have been working since I was 14 years old. I do not have a degree,” Indeed SVP of ESG LaFawn Davis told the audience in her session on the importance of skills-based hiring. “I understand what it’s like to have barriers to employment. And that is why this work is so important to me.” 

Work Is Changing. So Should You. 

Labor and hiring markets change at a rapid pace. Throughout FutureWorks 2022, Indeed executives offered advice and best practices for responding to macro and micro trends. For example, Svenja Gudell, Indeed’s chief economist, shared that “in the U.S., we have 1.7 job openings for every unemployed person. That is unprecedented.” How can employers compete? Focus on “overlooked pools of workers,” Gudell said. 

LaFawn Davis, Indeed’s SVP of ESG, added that recruiting outside the box has not only become a responsibility but a necessity. This means removing barriers related to criminal records, postsecondary education and disabilities. 

“The world of work is fundamentally broken,” Davis said. The solution is “seeking and welcoming underappreciated, untapped talent, which includes job seekers facing historical barriers to employment.” (For example, among job seekers with a criminal record, 60% remain unemployed more than a year after being released from prison, despite data that shows workers with records having higher retention rates, according to The Sentencing Project.) 

One of the most eye-opening statistics Davis presented: The share of job searches using terms like “fair chance hiring” has risen 45% since May of last year, according to Indeed’s Hiring Lab. “People are looking for a way out of discrimination. They’re looking for belonging and respect….This is the moment to rebuild work for everyone,” Davis said. “The future of work starts with us.”

Once a person is hired, they must feel welcomed in their new role. As Indeed Chief People Officer Priscilla Koranteng explained, prioritizing wellbeing in the workplace is becoming the ultimate measure of success at any company. “Satisfaction at work can make you a happier person,” Koranteng said. “Ninety percent of people think how we feel at work really, really matters. Fostering wellbeing in the workplace is just as important as revenue and profit.” 

Image of Maggie Hulce, Executive Vice President of Enterprise at Indeed, presenting at Futureworks.
Indeed EVP Maggie Hulce applied to 50 jobs to gauge the typical application experience. More than 40% of the employers never responded. “It was humbling and eye-opening,” she said.

It’s Time to Rethink the Candidate Experience

“Poor candidate experiences are expensive mistakes,” said Maggie Hulce, Indeed’s EVP and GM for enterprise, adding that 72% of job seekers share negative experiences with others (Indeed data), while 64% become less likely to purchase goods from a company whose hiring process failed them in some way. Moreover, candidate resentment has increased 75% in the past year, the largest increase in a decade. 

To gauge the typical application experience herself, Hulce applied to 50 jobs. Her takeaway: “It was humbling and eye-opening,” she said. More than 40% of the employers never responded. “We’ve known for years that poor candidate experiences make recruitment more expensive and can hurt top-line revenue, [and] we at Indeed are obsessed with wringing out waste in hiring and fixing bad candidate experiences along the way. 

“If you have a slow and complex hiring process, you’re definitely losing out on great talent,” Hulce continued. She announced, to much applause, that in 2023, Indeed is planning to migrate its pay-per-click (PPC) revenue model to pay-per-started-application (PPSA) and pay-per-application (PPA) models across many markets. The goal is to help companies streamline their hiring processes, which can in turn help make for happier job seekers and a more efficient (and ultimately less expensive) recruitment effort. In the end, everyone wins. “We have seen amazing results when companies align spend with objectives,” Hulce said. “Ultimately, we want to deliver the most hires.”

Image of Jason Sudeikis, wearing a gray cardigan, sitting and looking into the camera.
Comedian-actor Jason Sudeikis told Indeed CMO Jessica Jensen how performing improv early in his career helped him build his managerial foundation. “You get used to letting go and empowering people. And then you give them the intention behind your thoughts and let them lean in.”

Improv Has a Place at Work (And Yes...Beyond ‘Yes, And’)

In a virtual conversation with Jensen, comedian-actor Jason Sudeikis explained how performing improv early in his career helped him build his managerial foundation. He recasted the popular acting method as a holistic team-building exercise, saying “[It forces you] to listen.” His time as an ensemble player on “Saturday Night Live” also taught him the importance of empowering teammates.

After leaving “Saturday Night Live” and achieving a notable film career, Sudeikis had the opportunity to develop, produce and star in his own vehicle, the immensely popular and Emmy-winning comedy “Ted Lasso.” Sudeikis took the leadership and teamwork skills he gained during his improv days and applied them to overseeing a big-budget Hollywood production. “You get used to letting go and empowering people,” Sudeikis said. “And then you give them the intention behind [your] thoughts and let them lean in.”

Overall, team-based creative processes can be immensely revealing. “It was interesting to create the show in the bubble of our own little writer’s room, and then to give it over and have brilliant thought leaders explain it back to you,” Sudeikis said. “It’s sort of like going back to improv classes,” where everyone’s input is crucial to the group’s success. 

Image of three people performing improvisational comedy  on stage at Futureworks.
Aneesa Folds (aka Young Nees, center) had some locally sourced improv lines for the audience: “So baby, come on and watch me enter / You know I’m creating at the Jacob Javits Center / So yes, Indeed / You know we’re here to please you / So everybody, please / Beyonce said to quit my job / But who ya kiddin? / She’s rich as hell! / So no I didn’t.”

Speaking of improv, members of the off-the-cuff hip-hop and comedy group FLS+, founded by Lin-Manuel Miranda, made a surprise appearance and, after receiving suggestions from FutureWorks attendees, freestyled a few jams about…yes, work.

Image of Jessica Jensen, Chief Marketing Officer at Indeed, and three other people sitting in chairs on a stage at Futureworks.
Indeed CMO Jessica Jensen, Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani, producer Lena Waithe and NFL coach Dr. Jen Welter discuss the wage gap during “Level the Paying Field.” 

Leveling the Paying Field Requires Advocacy in Every Industry

Women lost $800 billion in workplace value worldwide during the pandemic, but of course, pay inequality started long before that. Hollywood producer Lena Waithe, NFL coach Dr. Jen Welter, and Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code and Marshall Plan for Moms, collaborated on a lively panel hosted by Jensen about the need to level “the paying field” for women. Each of the women shared their plans for making the future of work more equitable for women.

“I knew that if girls of color, immigrant girls, daughters of refugees like me could get [computer programming] jobs, their entire family could march up into the middle class,” Saujani said. “We are the only industrialized nation that doesn’t have affordable childcare, that doesn’t have paid maternal leave, that penalizes mothers for being mothers. You make 58 cents on the dollar [compared to what men earn] if you’re a working mother in America.” 

“I have to be a bridge,” Waithe said. “Hollywood is a mirror to society, where we can tell stories about our communities. Whoopi Goldberg was the blueprint for myself, and I hope to be the North Star for someone else.” 

The NFL has been an exclusively male organization since its inception in 1920. It took the league nearly 100 years to hire its first female coach, Dr. Welter, who joined the Arizona Cardinals in 2015. And yet she nearly turned down her first coaching job because she thought “girls don’t do that,” she said. “Being the first meant being the only. Now, I want to ensure that as the first, I’m not going to be the last.”

Image of Indeed CEO Chris Hyams speaking with an attendee at Futureworks.
During his keynote, Indeed CEO Chris Hyams shared how technological advances can affect the job market: “People in Silicon Valley will tell you disruption is a good thing, but it isn’t a good thing for the people whose jobs are disrupted.”

Recruiting Deserves a New Model

“Talent is universal; opportunity is not,” Indeed CEO Chris Hyams said during his keynote. He explained how a person’s career is the most important facet of their life outside of family and health. It generates pride and dignity. It produces purpose. At its core, understanding work means understanding people.

Breaking down barriers in the hiring process requires a new model for recruiting. Hyams shared how Indeed is focusing on three tenets in its hiring practices: Rely on data to forecast trends, help people get hired faster (with a focus on skills-based matching) and streamline the employer-applicant communication process. In short: Make hiring simpler, faster — and more human.