Episode 15: Is This The New Normal?

Podcast Guests

photo of Leighann Lovely

Leighann Lovely

SITE Staffing, Inc.

Leighann Lovely 0:01
You’re listening to HRables: HR In Bite-Sized Pieces, present by SITE Staffing. As a staffing company that offers temp, temp to hire and direct hire services, we work with all sized companies from small family owned businesses to fortune 500 companies. My goal is to offer insight and knowledge about what we see day in and day out. We hope to educate you, cover topics such as what is happening in the labor market, where unemployment rates are at, what the new wage expectation is, how to attract and retain employees, and much more. I hope you enjoy this week’s episode.

Welcome to this week’s episode of HRables. I’m Leighann Lovely, your host. Today, I thought I would talk a little bit more about what has what is happening in the labor markets. I talked quite a bit about this in episode eight, and I thought I would dive a little bit deeper into what is happening and if anything has changed. And to be perfectly honest, not a whole lot has. I think a lot of people have been holding their breath waiting for the rush of people to start working. And unfortunately, that is just not the case. And honestly, after I have learned quite a bit about what is happening and what is going on in the market, it honestly is just no surprise that we are not seeing this big influx of people in the market. We now have 3.7 million less workers in the labor market, and many of those people have actually retired. Like I said, I talked about it in episode eight. When I really dove into the labor market, the truth of the matter is that the labor market is 2% smaller than it was pre COVID. And we are still not seeing much of an increase. And I don’t think that we are going to see a huge influx that we were all hoping for. I think that for a while, definitely around this office, we were all hoping and holding our breath and and hoping that people were just going to rush in one day. And I’m not thinking that this is going to happen, at least anytime soon. There are two major groups that were really hit hard, so I wanted to kind of dive into that. The first group is the older population. Now, despite the Equal Opportunity Act of 1972, it is really hard for companies to be blind to age, race and ethnicity. It’s sad, but it’s true. And I’m not saying that companies are being malicious or purposely discriminating. And I will say that over the years, I’ve seen a dramatic change. More and more I walk into companies and it’s amazing the diversity of color, race, ages, background, beliefs. It’s amazing. And I will say thank you to those companies and say that they’re doing an amazing job. But unfortunately, the older population was pushed out of a lot of these roles, or a lot of the positions that they held during the pandemic. And they’ve been struggling to get back into the workforce, many of them chose to retire versus trying to start over in a new company. Because often it’s difficult for those individuals that have spent 25 plus years at one company, and then try to start over by walking into a new company, interviewing, and get hired at that organization. I’ll talk to companies about this, I often hear things like he, she, they are overqualified, we can’t afford them, we are looking for someone that we can train to do things our way or mold them into a management role. And those are all valid reasons. So it makes it difficult for somebody, like I said, who’s been at one company for most of their career, to just simply start over at a new company, and many of them feel uncomfortable doing that. So instead of trying to start over, they’ve taken the path of retirement and good for them. If they’re able to do that, that’s excellent. But it does put a lot of these companies in a rough spot. Like I said 3.7 million less workers. Many of those are contributed to people retiring early.

The second group that has really been hit hard are women. Since the beginning of the pandemic an estimated 400,000 more women have left the workforce than men. To break this down even further. Women of color are facing double the unemployment rate than men. Some of the main drivers that kind of take control of this include things like taking care of children, taking care of parents who are living in the household, shopping, cooking, cleaning. Because the responsibility for this has historically, and still does heavily fall on women compared to men. And please don’t get me wrong. Again, I’m not saying that there has not been a shift on this as well. More men are now taking on these responsibilities, and loving being home, being home with their children being home, you know, stay at home fathers. My husband works 12 hour days, three days a week and stays home with my daughter two days. And he loves that. He’s an amazing dad. But again, we see a lot more women taking on these roles today. And this all comes at a time when we were finally starting to see more equality in pay and jobs. Unfortunately, this may very well be setting us back in a time, when many women, we’re now finally starting to see same pay for jobs, more equality in the workplace. Now, as women are looking to re enter the job markets, many are finding it difficult to find jobs at the same rate of paid that they left the job market. Unfortunately, companies are looking to hire people at the same level that individuals were working at post pandemic, but they are not willing to pay them the same rate of pay as that 10 year employee that left and they don’t have time to train the newbie. It’s not realistic. The majority of the people that are missing from the labor force, especially in these skilled positions like tool and die and CNC machine operators, all the companies out there that are really hurting. They were highly skilled baby boomers that decided to retire and without warning, so they didn’t have time to train their predecessor. Now, I understand that this is a predicament. But we all have to adjust to the new surroundings. We are going to have to start doing things differently. And the companies that figure out this first are going to thrive. But they’re going to have to adjust a few things. Now I’ve spoken with, you know other people on my podcast about what do we have to do in order to you know, retain employees, you know, and I’ve tried to come up with creative ways and different ideas, but it really comes down to the way that employees feel, the way that you make employees feel when they come on. That is what drives a lot of individuals who are coming into your company. And a lot of employees that I talk with about why they don’t stay talk about they started, they didn’t feel like they were trained properly, they felt like they were just kind of left out there to figure it out. And again, that has a lot to do with everybody is becoming busy again, nobody has enough people. But it’s really important to have training programs and to have those to be continuous so that employees and people have the ability to progress through your company. Next is paying the employees properly during that training time. I mean, if you think about it, $13 an hour is 27,000 a year. Even a single person with modest expenses will barely make it without government assistance. Now think if it’s an individual who has a family at home, and their spouse, or significant other is looking for work at the same time. It makes a really hard for somebody to say yes, I’ll take a job at 13 or 14 or 15. Next, we need to keep employees happy once they are trained. You can’t train them and then forget about them. Because then they feel like they’ve been, well forgotten about. And the people who are coming into the workforce now are not like the people who have recently left. Again, we’re talking about the different generations of people, the different way that they feel about things. So continuous improvement through employee engagement, trying to find what makes that workforce happy. Is it buying them lunch, is it going in saying hey you did a great job today? Now, in order to do this, a company is going to have to understand, again what I just mentioned. The two different groups of people who are now entering or who are going to be hired into the workforce. And then being able to communicate effectively to those two groups, which is millennials and the gen Z’s. See a lot of people forget because millennials still sticks with, you still have the idea that a millennial is this young, young person, but I’m 40 years old, and I am a millennial. A millennial as somebody who’s 25 to 40 years old, which means that the majority of the people in the workforce right now are millennials. Then you have your Gen Z’s. Those individuals are anybody from 18 to 24 years old. So anybody, you know, younger, has a completely different set of expectations. And we really have to shift our thinking on how we’re going to treat those individuals differently and identify what their wants, what their needs are. So unfortunately, this is all my time today. I know I haven’t answered a lot of questions, probably even created more. What I do know is that the world that we’re living in does not look like the world that we were living in before the pandemic. And unfortunately, this is our new normal, and I hate that phrase. But the more I learn and understand what is happening, the more I start to realize that we’re not going to see a huge increase of people just all of a sudden re-entering the workforce. there’s not going to be a huge sudden flood of people or people jumping off their couch ready to get back to work. It’s going to be a slow, slow progression. And we’re probably never going to be back to where we were before the pandemic. But we’re definitely going to have to change the way that we treat these individuals, the way that we communicate with them, the way that we identify with them in order to attract and maintain and retain. Thank you for tuning in. If you have a comment or you’d like to just join the conversation, please reach out to us on LinkedIn. If you are a company and you would like assistance with your open positions. I’d love to hear from you. Or if you are looking for a new position you can apply at our website at www.SITEStaffingInc.com. And finally, if you enjoyed our podcast today, share us, like us or leave a comment. Please tune in next time. I’m Leighann Lovely with SITE Staffing, and this is HRables: HR In Bite-Sized Pieces. We are now available on Apple podcast, Google podcast, iHeartRadio, player FM, or wherever you get your podcasts.