In part one of this series, we introduced you to the ‘Great Disconnect’ and how it applies to pay transparency, hybrid work and more. Here’s how to narrow the chasm.

Key Takeaways

  • Offer hybrid work and flexibility if you can — but regardless, be transparent about what you can and can’t provide. 
  • Build that transparency holistically into your hiring process so everyone has the right expectations from day one. 
  • Make the hiring process swift, and take individual communication preferences into account.
  • An authentic employer brand, key for younger workers, helps build clarity and trust, and it should never feel forced or inauthentic.

No, you’re not imagining it: There really is increasing friction between organizations and job seekers. A wealth of Indeed research points to a disconnect on everything from pay transparency to remote work to the hiring process. How can organizations navigate this “Great Disconnect” and continue to attract and retain talent? It takes continuous and thoughtful work. 

“These disconnects aren’t the easiest thing to solve, but each day you should be chipping away and getting closer to what a solution looks like for your workplace,” says AJ Eckstein, Gen Z career expert, writer for Fast Company and founder of Creator Match

Ignoring these disconnects may mean consequences for organizations. Many industries are experiencing an employer’s market, but the pendulum can swing back. “Smart companies have people in place recognizing the pivots in behaviors and addressing everything in real time,” says Lori Aiken, Indeed VP, Human Resources. “You have to look ahead of the curve.” 

Start by taking these four key actions.

Offer hybrid work if you can. (And if you can’t, try other kinds of flexibility.)

Attitudes around remote work, paid time off, work-life balance and more have shifted dramatically in recent years. Overall, people value flexibility: 74% of those surveyed in a 2024 Indeed report wanted work that was partially or exclusively remote. This is even truer for women and young people.

“You have to lend some flexibility,” Aiken says. “I’ve seen some organizations follow rigid approaches and then experience an exodus of talent later.”

Remote or hybrid work obviously isn’t possible for every industry or role. But flexibility can mean different things to different workers. Sometimes it can mean the ability to take a sabbatical after several years or the opportunity to go into a phased retirement. For Marcy Brown, a sales enablement manager in the Pittsburgh area who works in marketing technology, it meant having unlimited PTO from her employer. She has aging parents who live out of state, and her husband has frequent doctor’s appointments. When she was last job hunting, she would have considered a pay cut for unlimited PTO.

“I can’t imagine trying to live my life without the flexibility to take time off when I need it,” Brown says. “If I was limited to the traditional two weeks, it would force me to choose between having a career and fulfilling life obligations.”

As the chart below illustrates, benefits like unlimited PTO — which is important to employees but not frequently offered — help companies stand out as employers of choice. 

A four-quadrant chart showing the benefits available to employees and the degree to which they want them. Quality health insurance is at the top right (people want it and employers provide it), while sabbaticals are in the bottom left (it’s not offered and not particularly desired). Unlimited PTO, the ability to work from home, and no email after hours are in the top left: companies don’t always offer this but it’s something people want.

If your company offers unlimited PTO, it’s also important to ensure that your workplace culture empowers employees to actually take those days off. Consider enforcing a minimum number of vacation days employees must take per year so they don’t feel afraid to use their unlimited time off. Also, managers and senior leaders should model the behavior themselves and take time off and parental leave. 

If your organization can’t provide the flexibility workers seek, then share your rationale. The simple act of explaining the decision making around benefits can provide a moment of trust-building transparency for workers. 

“Sometimes transparency is the best answer you can give. Even if you don’t pivot, you need to be able to give context around why something doesn’t exist,” Aiken says. “There’s nothing more frustrating than this feeling of ‘it is what it is.’ Level with employees and tell them why you operate the way you do.”

Be transparent during the hiring journey.

When it comes to interviewing and hiring, take a page from the dating world: Be yourself so the people looking for you can find you. Not only should candidates represent themselves truthfully and authentically, but companies should as well. Because a wrong match can be costly, employers should be up front about what they provide, and job seekers should speak up about what they need. If those things don’t align, it’s better to find out quickly. (And you definitely want to avoid what’s being called “shift shock.”)

Listing the pay, or at least disclosing it early in the hiring process, is one way to show a commitment to transparency. And it can pay off, so to speak, as 75% of job seekers in an Indeed survey agree they’re more likely to apply for a job if the compensation is listed.

Maybe your company can’t offer top-of-the-market compensation but can offer remote work or generous parental leave. Be open about that in the recruitment process to attract the right candidates. Employers can also leverage social channels or multimedia content to showcase what a “day in the life” might be like at an organization. (One-third of them already do, according to Indeed internal research.) Especially for a large organization, these types of videos and images can let candidates know whether the environment is a fit.

A bar chart showing what day-in-the-life resources employers offer to job seekers. 33% offer short videos showcasing a typical workday, 32% offer still photos, 32% offer employee quotes, 30% offer virtual or in-person tours and 29% offer written testimonials.

“It’s important for companies to balance the insights they provide to candidates and make sure they’re setting the correct expectations,” says Eoin Driver, Indeed VP, Global Talent. “Yes, we want to attract candidates. But being very clear on the expectations is incredibly important too.”

Communicate quickly — and smartly.

No employer wants to go through a whole interview cycle only to have their preferred candidate find another job in the meantime; likewise, a lengthy application process is challenging for the job seeker as well. In his two decades in the industry, Driver says, “One thing companies just haven’t been able to truly appreciate is the negative impact on the candidate of the traditional application and interview process.” 

If you schedule interviews quickly, Driver says, the show rate is going to be higher than if you take a long time to connect with a candidate. Similarly, if you get an offer to a candidate quickly, they’re much more likely to accept. “Striking while the iron is hot and while the candidate is in the right mindset has such a positive impact on the outcome,” he says.

Keep generational differences in mind too. You don’t want to miss a generational talent pool because you’re not communicating with them in the way they prefer, whether it’s texting, email or something else.

Invest in employer branding to attract the right people.

Employer branding is the culmination of the answers people give when asked, “What do you think working at this particular company is like?” It’s an element of transparency, and it’s also an effective way for companies to share their core values with the world — and with job seekers. 

“Employer brand strategy is an attraction strategy,” Driver says. “It helps the organization to differentiate itself in the market, it helps build credibility and trust with the candidates and it helps to ensure the candidate has the clarity to make the right decision for them.”

It’s a story that can be shared by recruiters, on your company’s website and through its social media profiles. Employers can stay on top of it by creating a great career page, starting a company blog, staying aware of company reviews and ratings, and optimizing their company’s reviews and ratings. 

Two pie charts, one showing that 89% of job seekers research companies before applying, and one showing that only 42% of employers think they do this kind of research.

But it should never feel forced. Employee branding that’s inorganic can backfire. “Avoid the temptation to oversell,” Driver says. “Doing it wrong could worsen the very issues you’re trying to fix.”

Once you hire people, keep the conversation going with feedback surveys and focus groups. By creating a safe space for employees to make their voices heard, companies can build stronger relationships with them, better align on expectations and narrow the disconnects that so many organizations face.

“If you see a big disconnect with your employees, that means you have to show up even more as an employer,” Aiken says. “Employees have a responsibility to speak up, and employers have a responsibility to respond.” 

Leaders who are transparent, flexible and agile during the hiring process can close the widening chasm between them and the workers they seek to attract. 

To read about the research and Indeed findings that define the Great Disconnect, read the first piece in this two-part series.