Jobs Employers Just Can’t Fill
Some sectors are crying out for workers – but workers think they could do better elsewhere.
few years, workers have been quitting their jobs in record numbers. Some are changing careers, some are looking for a fast-growing job, and some have left the workforce altogether. In the US, for example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics August 2022 data puts the labor force participation rate at 1.0 percentage points below the February 2020 level.
In other words, people are leaving and, in some sectors and jobs, they are not coming back. Perhaps this is not surprising, given the poor conditions in many workplaces throughout the pandemic. The shortage of workers is most evident in the hospitality and service work industries, where positions for dishwashers, truck drivers, retail workers, food servers, airport agents, home health aides, and similar roles are literally in short supply. It has been open for years.
Experts say it’s not because people don’t want to work. They just want better jobs. More pay, better conditions. The upheaval in the job market caused by the pandemic has enabled some workers to switch to better jobs – and hard-hit sectors have to find ways to make their jobs more attractive if they want their workers back. Required.
Why are these jobs open?
Especially in the US, the data showed that it was difficult to become a service worker for a long time. In 2020, for example, full-time US food counter workers earned, on average, $23,960 (£20,796) a year – just short of the poverty line for a family of four. Weekly hours are rarely guaranteed, making it difficult for workers to be sure their income will cover their bills, or arrange things like transport and childcare. Will do.
All of this accounts, in part, for the fact that attrition rates – in other words, the rate at which people leave as a percentage of the average job per year – have long been high in service industries. In 2017, it was 53.8% for retail workers, 72.4% for workers in lodging and food services, and 30.6% for people in manufacturing jobs.
But if being a service worker was difficult before the pandemic, it became downright miserable for many once it hit. Retailers that remained open faced supply chain disruptions, and customer demand rose and fell. Fewer employees had to work longer hours, and increased overtime contributed to burnout. With schools closed and public transport reduced, some activists were talking about a lack of childcare and more difficult commutes. Incidents of worker abuse and reports of rude customers increased, and although some companies offered one-time bonuses, few offered wage increases or hazard pay.
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And in many cases, the work was effective. Even while other industries have transferred their businesses online, it can be challenging to replace a virtual employee at a hotel reception desk, for instance. Serge da Motta Vega. Professor of Human Resource Management. EDHEC Business School in Paris. This meant that frontline service workers, forced to interact with colleagues and customers while everyone else was sheltering at home, were the most vulnerable to Covid-19. In the first year of the pandemic, 68 percent of working adults who died in the U.S. were laborers, retail, and service workers.
Clearly, in the last two years, the attrition rate has increased. In 2021, 64.6% of retail workers, 86.3% of accommodation and food service workers overall, and just under 40% of manufacturing workers quit their jobs. While safety – and overall suffering – were important factors, they were not the only reason for the mass exodus. People also crave stability, which is hard to find in a low-wage job: A 2019 study found that minimum-wage jobs have a turnover rate twice the U.S. national average. “Those jobs are extraordinary,” da Motta Vega says. “People now prioritize having a secure job over other benefits like having a flexible work schedule and being able to choose their place of employment.
Why aren’t people coming back to fill those jobs?
During 2021 and into this year, the epidemic of layoffs, known as the Great Resignation, left job openings in all industries. But David Durtman, associate professor of management at Rutgers University School of Business, Camden, US, says rehiring workers, especially to fill low-wage jobs, has become difficult for the same reasons why people originally deserted them.
In a Pew Research survey, people who quit their jobs were asked why they left. First was low pay, followed by “no opportunities for advancement” and “feelings of disrespect”.
It’s difficult to advance if you’re flipping hamburgers or doing something similar. Not everybody becomes a manager. A lot of people are stuck in those jobs for years and years,” says Duartman. Employees “don’t feel that they are valued enough, or that they are being treated well,” according to a study.
What actions are companies taking to try and fill the “unfillable”?
These days, it’s not unusual to see signs outside fast food restaurants, convenience stores, and markets offering new hires an hourly wage. Many employers have introduced sign-on bonuses: In 2021, Amazon announced hiring and said it would $1,000 bonus for warehouse and transportation jobs, Hilton Hotels offered a sign-on bonus for room attendants and other staff, and What’s more,
while financial incentives don’t hurt, they do nothing to address the other big things workers want that “non-filling” jobs often don’t offer. Flexibility, predictability, and better conditions.
Employers should respond, in my opinion, by doing more than just raising wages and offering signing bonuses; they should also, for instance, reschedule workers.
Focusing on money alone, Da Motta Vega agrees, is short-sighted. While, yes, people want to pay what they feel is worth their time and energy, companies should also “ask people: ‘What do you want?