Amèlia Sampere, founder of the Worketik platform, is calling to re-evaluate how we search for jobs and ensure all parties involved are on a level playing field
The project features among the finalists for the SpinUOC 2020 entrepreneurship programme
The COVID-19 pandemic has further scarred an already-struggling job market. "This crisis has forced us to accept that we need to reconsider how we view employment. It's more important than ever to advocate positive values, social responsibility and the promotion of ethical workplace behaviour," explained Amèlia Sampere, a course instructor at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya's (UOC) Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences and founder of Worketik, the first bidirectional, transparent and ethical job search website. The initiative has been selected as a finalist project for the UOC's entrepreneurship programme, SpinUOC 2020, and is rooted in the idea of needing to improve relationships between companies and employees. "The selection process should be transparent for both parties," Sampere stated.
In fact, the platform is based on the simple idea that the selection process is a "bidirectional exercise", in which both parties have access to the same information. Job seekers are able to search for positions that suit their personal circumstances, while companies can publish their corporate social responsibility strategies, employee benefits and information on how they plan to contribute to the 2030 Agenda. According to the platform's directors, the goal is for both companies and job seekers, for the first time, to have access to a website that allows them to establish professional relationships based on transparency and mutual understanding.
In fact, this recruitment website is based on a code of ethics whereby the featured companies are obliged to visibly post their non-discrimination policies, salaries, contract conditions and employee benefits. As such, users can see beforehand if the job offer includes incentives such as reconciliation policies (flexible hours or the option to work from home), day care centres, extra training or sports activities.
Sampere said: "If this crisis has shown us anything it's that salary isn't everything, but we cannot go to the other extreme either, as we've seen with some companies who offer free fruit baskets and sea views in exchange for an appalling work-life balance." She added: "This crisis should have made companies realize that they need to rethink their relationship with their employees. Until now there has been a very twisted culture surrounding working from home because it was thought that if you give people the freedom to choose where they work, no one would actually get anything done. But employees need to be treated with more respect."
The Worketik team explained how this commitment to ethics and transparency is not only a declaration of intent that can be seen as the job offer's cover letter; it's a commitment that must be sustained throughout the entire selection process. In using this portal, for example, companies promise to respond to an application within a maximum of 15 days. Sampere said: "Candidates are often rejected on the basis that there'll always be someone else ready to take up the position, but companies forget that behind every application is a human, with all their personal and emotional baggage. That's why we want to promote the basic rule of empathy, meaning that even if a candidate isn't successful, they will receive a sincere response notifying them of the outcome. This will help them to understand the decision that's been taken and improve their future job search."
The website also opens the door to groups that have traditionally been discriminated against in job selection processes, due to prejudices against their age, disability or social exclusion. On this matter, both companies and employees can be honest and transparent about their situation, safe in the knowledge that the other party is at least willing to listen. The platform also offers the option to anonymize certain details such as names and surnames, in order to avoid biases and stereotypes that might influence the employer's initial assessment of the candidate. "The ethics are based on knowing that the applicant will be treated fairly throughout the selection process, unconditioned by their personal or social situation," Worketik pointed out.
The initiative was launched just a few months ago and already features among the finalist projects for the Alares Awards, as well as having forged alliances with several other job search platforms. Sampere explained how the first companies to connect with Worketik "also advocate ethical policies as a catalyst for change and understand how it adds value to their offer". We're seeing that the first registrations on our website are from highly qualified people who are keen to establish a relationship with companies. They believe Worketik is the only option they have to find a job that allows them to work in responsible companies with positive values. "These are not people looking for a job based on its salary. They also need to understand the organization's project and values, and see that they will help them balance their work and personal life more easily," explained the entrepreneur.
"We're currently receiving so many emails from people expressing their gratitude for their positive experiences, but we hope this will soon become the norm," said Sampere, commenting on Worketik's first few months in business. "Our society is becoming increasingly empowered as we realize the impact of our consumption habits. Now is the time to advocate ethical behaviour in companies and support those that really are committed to this shift. That's why we're encouraging those companies with positive values looking for talented and devoted employees to use our website to publish their job offers," she concluded.
Entrepreneurship at the UOC
Since 2013, the UOC has been running SpinUOC, an annual programme that fosters entrepreneurship and innovation within the university community. Coordinated by the university's Hubbik platform, this initiative is set to hold its final round on 1 October, when eight projects will be presented, including Amèlia Sampere's Worketik.