Quick Study: Podcasting’s Popularity Grows; Work-Life Balance Not Just HR Issue; Screening Candidates on Social Networks

*Podcasting Still Waiting in the Wings: As gadgets with digital audio capabilities proliferate, podcast downloading continues to increase, according to August 2008 research conducted by Pew Internet & American Life Project. In 2006, Pew reported that popular podcast directory Podcast Alley catalogued more than 26,000 podcasts with more than 1 million episodes. The number has since nearly doubled to 43,000 podcasts and more than 2 million episodes.

However, the research found that the communications platform still has a ways to go to become a fixture in the everyday lives of Internet users. Among the research findings:

  • 19% of surveyed Internet users have downloaded a podcast, up from 12% in August 2006 and 7% in a February-April 2006 survey;

  • Of those who do download podcasts, only 17% do so on a typical day; and,

  • 22% of online men have downloaded a podcast as compared to 16% of online women; that said, men and women are equally likely (3%) to download podcasts on a typical day.

As podcasting downloads increase, so does the number of people who own MP3 devices. According to a December 2007 Pew Internet Project survey:

  • 34% of American adults and 43% of Internet users reported owning an MP3 player, up from 20% of the total population and 26% of Internet users in April 2006; and,

  • Young adults between the ages of 18 and 29 are most likely to own these gadgets, with 61% of that demographic having reported owning an MP3 device.

Source: Pew Internet & ALP

*CFOs Speak Out on Work-Life Balance: According to a study by BDO Seidman

(BDO), LLP, and Work+Life Fit Inc., chief financial officers (CFOs) understand that work-life flexibility has the potential to positively impact their companies beyond employee issues, but say if flexibility is managed solely by human resources it won't succeed. Among the findings:

  • A majority of CFOs say such flexibility can have a high to moderate impact on their company's ability to differentiate itself, minimize environmental issues and reduce health care costs.

  • 38% of surveyed CFOs work for companies that offer formal flexibility policies or programs;

  • While 75% of CFOs at those companies say flexibility is very or somewhat important to the future profitability of their organizations, 62% think that their management teams see flexibility only as an employee perk or HR policy and have yet to make the connection between flexibility and other business objectives;

  • 65% believe that for flexibility to succeed companies cannot rely on HR as the only champion, and 75% say business unit leadership involvement and support is "very important;" and,

  • When asked what they viewed as significant flexibility obstacles, the majority of CFOs said "face time" (76%) and "demands in workload of job" (72%), followed by "concerns about other employees perceptions" (62%), and more than half said "it could hurt my career" (58%).

Source: BDO and Work + Life Fit

*Screening Job Candidates Online: According to a nationwide survey of employers conducted by CareerBuilder.com, 22% of hiring managers use social networking sites to research job candidates, up from 11% in 2006. Additional findings include:

  • 9% of hiring managers don't currently use social networking sites to screen potential employees, but plan to start;

  • Of those who screen via social networks, 34% report finding content that caused them to dismiss the candidate from consideration.

Top areas for concern among hiring managers include:

  • 41%: candidate posted information about them drinking or using drugs

  • 40%: candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs or information

  • 29%: candidate had poor communication skills

  • 28%: candidate bad-mouthed their previous company or fellow employee

  • 27%: candidate lied about qualifications

  • 22%: candidate used discriminatory remarks related to race, gender, religion, etc.

  • 22%: candidate's screen name was unprofessional

  • 21%: candidate was linked to criminal behavior

Source: CareerBuilder.com PRN