The U.S. labor shortage is real—and only seems to be worsening by the day. According to the latest U.S. Department of Labor JOLTS report, 9.3 million job openings are unfilled—the most on record. Combine this statistic with the number of workers voluntarily quitting their jobs—also at an all-time high at 2.7 percent—and it’s easy to see why the labor market is in a state of such disarray.
As millions of workers remain out of work, the impact has created a ripple effect across the country. Not only have businesses of all sizes and industries struggled to recruit candidates back to the workforce, but workers’ reluctance to return to their jobs has hindered the recovery of the U.S. economy. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a survey stating that 90.5 percent of state and local commerce leaders cited the lack of available workers as the prevailing factor that has slowed their local economies. Even as more than half of U.S. states have cut generous pandemic-related benefits to unemployed populations, the inability to discover quality workers remains prevalent nationwide.
What are some of the primary reasons why workers are reluctant to return to work? And how can companies effectively entice candidates to come back to the workplace? Our team at Acara has the latest.
A recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau states that the number of working mothers has declined by 1.4 million since the start of the pandemic. As schools shifted to remote education models to curb the spread of the virus, children were left to take classes from their homes—thereby disrupting the traditional education structure. As schools and daycare centers were closed, some working mothers had no other option but to quit their jobs entirely to care for their kids.
How to fix it: It should come as no surprise that working parents are longing for remote work flexibility. Studies from Catalyst show that women with childcare responsibilities are 32 percent less likely to leave their jobs if they have the ability to work remotely. By offering this workplace flexibility, parents can more effectively center their work obligations around their children’s schedules without having to worry about childcare.
Not only has the pandemic caused working mothers to depart from the workforce in droves, but the same is also true of retirees. Oxford Economics approximates that more than two million workers have retired since the pandemic’s outbreak—about two times the normal retiree rate. From health concerns to the desire to spend more time with family, over 25 percent of all workers said that they were prompted to accelerate their retirement plans because of the pandemic.
How to fix it: While it may be difficult to sway some of your older employees to postpone their early retirement plans, try to convince them to stay on board with your organization for an additional 90 or 180 days. That way, they can train other employees and facilitate a smoother transition process upon their departure. To find high-quality talent, organizations will start to dip into younger generations of the talent pool—such as recent college graduates—to eventually replace their aging populations.
Despite the successful vaccine rollout that has helped reduce COVID infection numbers across the country, workers still hesitate to return to an in-office environment because of the threat of the virus. According to a study conducted by the New York Post, about four in ten employers believed that the pandemic was the largest impediment to employees’ arrival back to the office, while another 34 percent of respondents cited vaccination rates as most pressing to workers’ return to work. It is clear that while America has seemingly overcome the worst wave of COVID-19, resources are still skeptical about the thought of heading back to an office environment.
How to fix it: While some employees may push for their employers to mandate vaccinations for all workers, a less politically charged solution lies in the implementation of staggered workweeks. For example, organizations can design a work schedule so that certain employees or departments are able to work from home rather than report to the office on certain days of the week. By allowing employees the opportunity to continue to work remotely—albeit in a limited capacity—traffic flow in the office will be limited, while resources will be given some much-needed workplace flexibility. In addition, organizations can better protect their workers by purchasing PPE and conducting a thorough sanitization of their office spaces on a daily basis.
The provision of extra jobless aid from both state and federal governments helped millions of Americans stay afloat during the months of pandemic lockdowns. Yet as these unemployment subsidies have begun being rolled back in recent weeks, resources have been slow to return to the workforce. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 89.9 percent of businesses stated that it is either “difficult” or “very difficult” to find and hire workers. Despite efforts from employers to entice candidates to return to work, the number of Americans who have chosen to remain at home is still staggering.
How to fix it: Just as state governments are offering incentives for citizens to receive the vaccine, businesses have been forced to up the ante when it comes to recruiting workers to re-enter the workforce. Companies are currently offering a slew of benefits to lure employees to join their organizations. From cash bonuses and childcare support to transportation stipends and free meals, employers have gotten creative in their recruiting efforts. While some workers stand to earn more from collecting unemployment checks, these added jobless benefits from the federal government are set to expire during the first week of September in what hopefully signals a large-scale push to return to the workforce.