The truth behind America's labor shortage: We're not ready to rethink who is a good worker

the truth behind america's labor shortage: we're not ready to rethink who is a good worker
© Provided by Business Insider skynesher/Getty Images

  • The labor market is hot, but about six million Americans who want to work are still unemployed.
  • That’s because companies often overlook certain groups of talent.
  • Those “willing to overcome deep-rooted beliefs about how work should be done” will have an advantage, one expert said.

As of May, there were about six million people looking for work in the US.

Another 5.7 million people have given up the search but still want to a job. However, businesses still say they’re struggling to recruit and retain workers amid the ongoing labor shortage.

One reason could be that some of these businesses are leaving out certain groups of job candidates.

Formerly incarcerated, retired people looking to get back to work, and people with disabilities could be the answer to businesses’ hiring woes, Daniel Zhao, senior economist and data scientist at Glassdoor, previously told Insider. It could be a talent pool of more than 117 million potential workers.

The truth behind America's labor shortage: We're not ready to rethink who is a good worker
1/13 SLIDES © Savanna Durr/Insider

QUITS DIARIES: Meet 38 people who joined the Great Resignation in search of a more balanced life

It’s quitting time in America.

For nearly a year, Americans have been quitting their jobs at record-breaking rates in a phenomenon that the organizational psychologist Anthony Klotz has dubbed the Great Resignation. Over that time, Insider has spoken with dozens of Americans who left their jobs in search of a better deal, citing everything from low pay to high stress to a lack of childcare.

The resigning hasn’t slowed, even with huge upticks in jobs and hiring. It stayed strong as enhanced unemployment insurance ended in September and as the Omicron variant started to spread across the US.

Some have theorized that it’s more of a Great Reshuffle where workers are switching into higher-paying roles — or had been waiting out the dreary pandemic economic conditions before quitting. There’s also been a rise in worker power, coupled with workers leaving low-wage industries at a record-breaking pace.

Employers have been scrambling to hire and bemoaning labor shortages, while workers and experts say the answer is clear: Low pay and poor conditions won’t cut it anymore. That’s resulted in wages soaring over the past year — but those gains came after five decades of declining wages. Some economists and advocates say that raises may not stick around without an increase in the federal minimum wage and that that uncertainty is keeping people out of the workforce.

For some workers, the issues of mortality and meaning that a life-altering event like a pandemic brings up prompted them to leave behind work they’re not passionate about or to follow a path they’ve always dreamed of. Still others are dealing with young children who can’t be vaccinated yet, quitting jobs to remain in a pandemic limbo. Some uprooted themselves during the pandemic to be closer to loved ones; others burned out.

And some people just heard about everyone else quitting and decided to do it themselves. A recent study suggested that a lot of low-wage jobs would be unsustainable if workers knew how much money they could make elsewhere.

One inference is that if workers learned what they could make somewhere else, they might ask for more money or quit. Perhaps they’ve learned that information through, say, wall-to-wall news coverage of workers quitting.

Indeed, over the past nine months Insider has spoken with some of the millions of people who make up the Great Resignation. Here are their stories.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The truth behind America's labor shortage: We're not ready to rethink who is a good worker
2/13 SLIDES © Juan Antonio Sorto

Meet a former probation officer who quit after 12 years because the ‘mental exhaustion and stress’ became too much: ‘I needed to achieve some kind of level of happiness for myself’

For 12 years Juan Antonio Sorto was a stressed-out probation officer working to take care of his younger sister, mother, and grandmother. Now that his sister is financially independent, he’s become one of the millions to join the Great Resignation.

“I couldn’t enjoy my accomplishments because of the stress I was under,” Sorto said. “I don’t consider the past 12 years as a complete waste of time, but I told myself I would never be able to stay in that position without having to reevaluate my happiness every five years.”

Read the full story here.

The truth behind America's labor shortage: We're not ready to rethink who is a good worker
3/13 SLIDES © Laura Danger

Meet a mom and teacher who hasn’t been able to work because childcare is so unpredictable: ‘I was way behind on work and completely stressed, not sleeping’

Laura Danger, 33, loved her job as a special educator and community advocate. But because of the stress of managing childcare, she’s shifted into a new role: stay-at-home parent.

Three or four weeks into the most recent school year, “we had already had so much illness or exposure that I was way behind on work and completely stressed, not sleeping,” Danger said. “I had lost 11 pounds in four weeks.”

Read the full story here.

The truth behind America's labor shortage: We're not ready to rethink who is a good worker
4/13 SLIDES © Shanee Cohen

Why I quit PR agencies: 5 public-relations pros explain why they left and share tips for former colleagues

Many public-relations professionals have left to strike out on their own as freelancers, even as firms offer more perks. Five PR professionals told Insider it’s important to be selective about the next job you take and to set firm boundaries and schedules for freelance work.

“You don’t have to hate your job to suffer burnout,” Elizabeth Rosenberg, who quit working for an agency in March 2020, said. “It had nothing to do with the industry. It had to do with my expectations for myself and how I felt like I needed to always prepare.”

Read the full story here.

The truth behind America's labor shortage: We're not ready to rethink who is a good worker
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The truth behind America's labor shortage: We're not ready to rethink who is a good worker
5/13 SLIDES © Carly Carey

Meet a former teacher of 11 years who became a plumbing apprentice during the pandemic: ‘I think the trades are an undervalued career path’

Carly Carey, 34, was a schoolteacher for 11 years. Now she’s a second-year plumbing apprentice at Erik Nelson Plumbing in Minnesota.

“I think the pandemic kind of pushed me over the edge of, ‘OK, I don’t think I want to go back to the classroom right now just because of the online part of it,'” she said.

The answer to her career conundrum came while she was watching the home-improvement show “This Old House.” Her boyfriend suggested maybe she’d want to give a trade job a try.

Now she runs an Instagram account, @theplumbher, that shows her life as an apprentice.

Read the full story here.

The truth behind America's labor shortage: We're not ready to rethink who is a good worker
6/13 SLIDES © Zachary Walker

Why I quit the agency world: 7 advertising pros share why they left and what advice they’d give former colleagues

Insider spoke with seven advertising-agency professionals who decided to quit to pursue things like freelancing or starting their own companies. They said it’s important to know when it’s the right time to go, especially as many people contend with burnout.

“The first thing you have to think about is why exactly you want to leave your current role,” said Zachary Walker, who opted to move from the agency side to the brand side. “The company culture? The people you work with? The work-life balance?”

Read the full story here.

The truth behind America's labor shortage: We're not ready to rethink who is a good worker
7/13 SLIDES © Maddison Peel

A McDonald’s worker quit her job and says she now earns up to $10,000 a month making TikToks for Walmart, Heinz, and Kroger

Madison Peel, a 22-year-old in Kentucky, had been working at McDonald’s since she was 15. Last year she was making $12 an hour.

A week after posting a viral video of a roasted chicken set to Cardi B’s “Up” that blew up, Peel quit her job. She said that now she’s working with big brands like Walmart and Heinz — and bringing in $5,000 to $10,000 a month from posting her recipes in TikToks.

“I’m able to get my own house and I can pay for stuff on my own and not have to worry anymore,” she said.

Read the full story here.

The truth behind America's labor shortage: We're not ready to rethink who is a good worker
8/13 SLIDES © Courtney McWilliams

How a social worker quit her job to run a 6-figure doggie daycare and spa with 1,400 clients

In 2018, Courtney McWilliams was a social worker who also drove for Uber and Lyft. On top of that, she began to provide doggy daycare from her home.

She opened MaryMac’s Doggie Retreat in 2019 but kept doing social work at reduced hours. On the day that Kamala Harris was sworn in, McWilliams quit her job — she was inspired by the country’s first female and Black vice president.

In 2021, her dog retreat brought in over $105,000.

Read the full story here.

The truth behind America's labor shortage: We're not ready to rethink who is a good worker
9/13 SLIDES © Andrew Hudson

An ICU nurse went viral for quitting after 19 grueling months of the pandemic. Now he says he’s more relaxed and is encouraging other healthcare workers to do the same.

Andrew Hudson quit nursing in December. At the start of the pandemic, he said, he would bag up patients who had died and bring them to the morgue or to freezer trucks. He would tape their eyelids, nostrils, and mouths to reduce morticians’ exposure to the virus.

“I’m encouraging healthcare workers, not just nurses, if you can leave your job, I think you should,” he said. “I think that they should see that they need us more than we need them. And the system is already collapsed, but now they’re going to have to deal with the ramifications of that collapse.”

Read the full story here.

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The truth behind America's labor shortage: We're not ready to rethink who is a good worker
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I landed a remote job with a $20,000 pay raise after growing disillusioned with teaching — here’s how I made the switch

A year ago, Mollie Breese, 29, was a high-school teacher in Florida. Now she’s a remote worker in Alaska, making her highest salary yet.

She wrote that she went into teaching “starry-eyed and eager” but became disillusioned when confronted with the reality of long hours, low pay, and bureaucracy. In May she gave her notice that she wouldn’t be returning.

“Remote working means I get to focus on what helps me — whether that means spending an extra few minutes enjoying my coffee in the morning or having the freedom to attend a webinar in the middle of the day,” Breese wrote. “I’ve found that these little acts of independence and autonomy have greatly improved my happiness and sense of fulfillment.”

Read the full story here.

The truth behind America's labor shortage: We're not ready to rethink who is a good worker
11/13 SLIDES © Danielle Zavala

I’m a former preschool teacher who now makes a living as a BBW model on OnlyFans. I make more money and spend less time working.

Danielle Zavala worked as a nanny for two years and then as a pre-K teacher for five. In May she quit over COVID-19 concerns and made an unexpected career switch: She became an OnlyFans model. Now she works about 20 hours a week — but earns more than she did as a teacher.

“The work isn’t exploitative, especially when compared with these low-wage positions where they overwork and mistreat employees,” she said.

Read the full story here.

As of May, there were 536,000 people with a disability age 16 and over unemployed; there were over 70 million Americans that have a criminal record according to a report published in 2020; and there were over 47 million retired workers receiving Social Security benefits as of April.

In a hot labor market, these groups of workers “tend to see more job opportunities,” Zhao said. And in a time when remote work has become more common, people who require accommodations or may feel uncomfortable in an office setting are even more able to find work from companies nationwide. And yet experts say businesses consistently overlook talent pools they aren’t familiar with — even though they could be the answer to their staffing crisis.

“Organizations willing to overcome deep-rooted beliefs about how work should be done — and who should be doing it — will have an advantage in this war for talent,” Robin Erickson, vice president of human capital at The Conference Board said per a press release about talent strategies for employers amid the global labor shortage. “Hiring from underutilized groups will not only expand the candidate pool — it will expand the diversity of thought and experience within your organization.”

Discrimination still reigns when it comes to hiring practices

Other groups of job seekers that tend to be overlooked are migrants, refugees, and college students, per a press release from The Conference Board. Indeed’s Abbey Carlton‍ previously told Insider that people who don’t have a college education and “opportunity youth”, or those who are between 16 and 24 years old who are not in school or work, are two other group of job seekers who tend to be underutilized.

“It has always been the case that it is much harder for that group to gain a foothold in the labor market,” Carlton‍ said about those considered opportunity youth.

According to an analysis by the Center for American Progress, the employment-population ratio of people without disabilities has been about three times higher than the ratio of people with disabilities for at least a decade based on available data.

“So when people talk about why can’t I find anybody to work for me or et cetera, there are people who want to be employed,” Mia Ives-Rublee, director for the disability justice initiative at Center for American Progress, previously told Insider. “The problems remain around discrimination, barriers to being able to apply and obtain a job, and the ability to maintain a job.”

Job candidates and workers with disabilities may also face barriers that make it harder in their job search or at the workplace.

“When it comes to getting employed, there are barriers in the recruitment, hiring, and retention phase of employment,” Josh Basile, community-relations manager for the accessibility firm accessiBe, previously said.

One analysis from Indeed finds that there has been a higher share of searches for terms related to fair chance hiring, as more and more job postings note this. However, the share of job postings that do note fair chance hiring is still low based on Indeed data. AnnElizabeth Konkel, economist at Indeed Hiring Lab, and author of the report told Insider that the analysis shows “tight labor market is helping pull in groups of workers who are often overlooked.”

Experts have previously shared with Insider the benefits of reaching out to these underutilized groups of talent and just how to do so. For instance, those looking to attract more workers who have criminal records or have been formerly incarcerated, can join the “Ban the Box” campaign, according to Deb Alderson, CEO of ViaPath Technologies. They can also offer returnship programs as one way to attract unretiring workers, according to Tami Forman, founder and CEO of the nonprofit Path Forward.

Remote work options can be another attractive work model for some job seekers with disabilities.

“I’ve read a couple different pieces about how remote work has been quite beneficial for individuals with disabilities because they can be in a more comfortable environment in their home and have whatever setup they need,” Konkel said.

But even though remote work has become common for some US workers since the pandemic first started, Moeena Das, the chief operating officer of the National Organization on Disability, previously told Insider that people with disabilities have been advocating for flexible work, including working from home, before the pandemic so that the workplace could be more accessible.

“At the end of the day, employers want to be able to fill the positions that they have,” Konkel previously told Insider. “They want to be able to get enough workers to be able to meet consumer demand, and exploring untapped pools of talent is one way to hopefully get the workers that they need.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

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