It’s being called the Great Resignation, while simultaneously the unemployed are getting jobs at a slower rate than they were pre-pandemic, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The two don’t add up. There are plenty of jobs available, yet applicants aren’t hearing from employers. Then, in other industries, people are applying, even interviewing and then, ghosting employers. Commercial office space is being repurposed due to the masses now working-from-home. People have been staying home more than ever, but restaurants, hotels, and airlines are inundated with guests. It’s impossible to solve a problem if you can’t properly identify the issue.
It’s such a fascinating phenomenon that the folks at Harvard Business School are digging in to try to understand. Part of the issue can be identified as mismatched skillsets. The open positions that need to be filled require skills that the people available to fill them simply don’t have – in roles where it is expected to have experience. Meanwhile, the roles that do not require experience, aren’t paying enough partnered with less than enticing work environments. The issues seem simple enough to solve – provide training and increase wages, right?
Training takes time and increasing wages takes more money. Neither is currently available. Employers need to fill the roles immediately – with no time to train. A surplus of funds that would make pay increases sustainable isn’t there, especially not without negatively impacting the morale of the current employees. Now those issues being identified don’t stop employers from trying to hire. In the same way, it hasn’t stopped people from looking for work. But, the communication between these two groups is at an all-time low and the general public is starting to feel the effects, especially in service and supply chain heavy industries and the problems have only started to show.
Potential employees have been “making it work” for months if not more than a year at this point. They have gotten creative. They have adapted to the gig economy lifestyle; many have even started their own businesses. If an employer doesn’t have a hefty benefits package to offer along with strong compensation – they probably won’t even get a resume from candidates. Even if they do get applicants, make an offer and the candidate accepts, the new struggle is keeping that employee. The labor issues weren’t created by COVID, but they have been amplified. There has been a transition happening for quite some time. We’ve been hearing about the gig economy, digital nomads, and overall drift from the corporate culture for well over a decade. Employers who aren’t adjusting to the way the employees they need want to work will continue to struggle to find the people they need.
Employers are experiencing struggles from every direction. Supply chains are broken, employees are expensive and customers are demanding, so deciding which needs attention first is the biggest struggle of all. It all needs attention at once, it’s best to delegate to help get it all done. That option is becoming more and more rare.
With all that employers are fighting against, it would seem that employees must be in an excellent position to do whatever they want. However, that isn’t necessarily the case either. Employees are frustrated and in many cases concerned, if not scared. Keep in mind, both sides are suffering post-pandemic stress, while still in the midst of a pandemic. Many employers had changes happen they never could have predicted.
Employees experienced job loss, or at the very least job insecurity and constant changes. Now there’s no reassurance the role they currently have will stay. Employees have become their own best asset, they are doing what they can to rebuild and stockpile before it happens again and they are being resourceful. Employers, some with the help of various government grants, loans, and subsidies have made it through and are now navigating an unfamiliar and unknown economic environment. The predictions for the months and years ahead are ever-changing and volatile.
Both sides of the employer-employee situation have reasonable concerns and trust has been forever impacted. The only way to recover is through communication. The current situation of ghosting that is happening from both is dysfunctional. Employees have to speak up to state what they need to take the job. Employers need to get creative in what they offer for not only pay but benefits both traditional and thinking outside the box. We have to take the term “new normal” and apply it to our approach to Human Resources, or should we say People Operations.
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