January — February 2023 Commentary

As businesses and organizations strive to draw the best talent, the hiring process will continue to be challenging in 2023 and beyond.
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Illustration by James Yang
Illustration by James Yang

You can dream, create, design, and build the most wonderful place in the world, but it requires people to make the dream a reality.
— Walt Disney


Employment – Cream of the Crop

As businesses and organizations strive to draw the best talent, the hiring process will continue to be challenging in 2023 and beyond. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, three ongoing trends are impacting hiring: a declining participation rate, an aging population, and slow labor force growth.

Moving forward, businesses must be agile and realize that potential employees have plenty of bargaining power. Consider a few years ago, progressive companies sought to improve upon workplace culture by offering mentorship opportunities, defining a clear sense of purpose, providing activities like after-work gatherings, and developing employee recognition programs.

Sources: SHRM, Websolutions, Career Builder

Today, those attributes are standard, along with offering some form of remote work to promote better work/life balance, providing more communication and transparency, and allowing employees to form committees to review and enhance internal operations such as safety measures or work schedules.

With plenty of job postings to review — a stark change from 2018, when the nation’s economy was running at breakneck speed — recruits can take their time weighing different options. But employers don’t have that luxury. In fact, slow feedback following a job interview can often alienate recruits. According to the latest research from SHRM’s Talent Acquisition Benchmark Report, the average time to fill a position is 36 days; it was 45 days four years ago.

“Not receiving timely feedback is among the top frustrations for candidates, and will quickly sour them to the opportunity,” says Pete Davis, president and CEO of Impact Management Services, a premium staffing and professional search firm in Southfield. “Best practices are to get them feedback within 24 hours to 48 hours after each step of the process.

“Setting, and delivering on, this expectation proves to the candidate that it’s a real opportunity, a priority for the company, and the company delivers on its commitment. It’s the first impression and will set the tone for the rest of the relationship. Internally, we see success rates drop by over 50 percent if we don’t get candidates feedback within 48 hours and/or if the process lags from the expectation we set at the start.”

Once new recruits are hired, employers can’t stand pat. According to multiple sources, including Assured Partners, new hires want and need to be seen as valued members of the workforce, apart from hitting productivity goals. In turn, new benefits and perks are more important than ever.

Beyond standard benefits like health care, vacation time, and sick days, new workplace trends include flexible work schedules, parental leave, mental health support, financial planning, and continuing education. Most of all, employees today don’t want to feel like a number; rather, they desire opportunities to advance, learn, and be considered a valuable member of a team that makes a difference at work and in society.


Infrastructure – Higher Ground

The Michigan Department of Transportation —
along with federal and local officials — has, in recent times, advocated for redesigning I-375 in downtown Detroit to atone for what politicians refer to as “mistakes” from the original construction project, which adversely affected Black residents in the area.

But look at any stretch of freeway in Detroit and it’s easy to find that the same issue has impacted other minority communities and neighborhoods. Portions of I-75 and I-96 in southwest Detroit, along with the upcoming Gordie Howe International Bridge, have divided Mexicantown; the Davison Freeway cut a swath through neighborhoods in Highland Park; and I-75 separated Hamtramck from Detroit. In fact, every stretch of any new or current urban freeway affects all residents and businesses in the area.

While the recent focus on I-375 is a rallying cry for politicians fixated on identity politics —
consider in 2022, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said he had “been advocating for six years to fill in this ditch and knit the city back together” —
where was his concern before that? Rather than push urban renewal as a means to gain favor with certain voters, politicians should look holistically at Detroit’s freeway system.

The plan to replace I-375 with a boulevard is a mistake and will generate lawsuits from local businesses. A less disruptive and more fiscally responsible model is to build a landscaped park above I-375 (at street level), just as MDOT did in Oak Park when it built I-696.


Transportation – Derailed Service

When the QLine, a streetcar system that runs for three miles on either side of Woodward Avenue from downtown Detroit to New Center, was built in 2017, planners said the service would be self-sufficient and wouldn’t require tax dollars to operate. Recently, though, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was expected to sign legislation that will provide close to $90 million until 2039 for the QLine.

     The funds, roughly $5 million per year, are intended to offset low ridership levels — around 2,400 people rode the QLine on a daily basis over the last quarter of 2022 — for what has been a free service since the pandemic. Planners had said the service would be a success if an average of 5,000 tickets were sold per day.

The challenge with fixed rail services is confined routes. The QLine, which provides efficient travel for some commuters, can’t switch lanes and is subject to changing traffic patterns.

The other major impediment of the QLine is its design. The system should have been routed down the center of Woodward, or above it, so that schedules wouldn’t be impacted by traffic. Instead, the QLine, like the Detroit People Mover, never met the rosy projections of planners and politicians, and taxpayers are left to foot the bill.