“Hi. I didn’t go to work yesterday, and I won’t be going back there. Last week, I hurt myself because my boss wants me to go too fast. And the floor manager wants the machine to keep running through break and lunch, but I only had 12 hours of training on it, which is not enough time to learn how to work that machine efficiently. I take pride in my work, and they want things done in a way I am not okay with. The Supervisor said he had trained seven other people, but they didn’t stay very long, and I can see why they quit too.”
This is a near-exact quote that we received recently from an employee that we spent weeks and hundreds of dollars to recruit and place in a job, only to have him quit after a few days. In today’s labor market, it is challenging to find talent willing to work. But then, to have a work environment that is less than desirable only compounds the issue.
Successful employers understand that it is critical for managers and supervisors to fully understand the challenges of the current labor market, the impact of out-of-date compensation levels, and the importance of providing a positive onboarding experience.
The minimum wage has been on the march upward for the past few years and is still on the rise, with many cities in the area having a $15 per hour minimum wage! But the minimum wage is no longer the driver; the COVID pandemic is the driver. People were laid off or quit working in vast proportions and, at the same time, put a chilling effect on all services and industries. Millions of people suddenly found themselves on the unemployment line with co-workers and neighbors. With curtailed spending, the economy wheezed to stay alive. The Government bolstered things by providing extended unemployment benefits, loosening restrictions on entitlements, and providing stimulus payments. As a result, some may say that there is more incentive to stay home and not work!
The New Normal
While still a few weeks away, with the thought of “reopening” of business, there has been a rapid increase in the need for workers. It is a relatively quick process to lay off 50 people (a matter of minutes), but hiring 50 people takes weeks! Now imagine that all the organizations that laid off 50 employees want 50 employees back at the same time! A nearly impossible task. The employers all want the same quality, quantity, and pay rates that they had pre-pandemic. But it’s not going to happen.
There has been a shift in the economy from a focus on employers to a focus on employees. Some may say it has been taking place for years, but the Pandemic has super-sized this dynamic. A year ago, an employee said that she would not take any assignment for less than $14/hour. That same employee (with no additional training or education) has now set her minimum at $20/hour! So, the pay level is currently being dictated by the employee. Employers don’t need to pay that rate, but they may also find that they will not meet production/shipping goals if they don’t. Especially when the employer next door, offering the same type of work, is willing to pay $20.00 + with a signing bonus of $1,000.00.
Then, take our friend that was quoted at the beginning of this blog. His wage was acceptable, but when he encountered an old-school supervisor using out-moded leadership methods (sink or swim) that caused him physical pain, he simply quit. Why wouldn’t he? He went around the corner to the competition, where he was treated with dignity and respect!
Employees are in a perfect position to dictate compensation and work conditions. The demand for workers is high, and the supply is low. This is simple economics. The employers that adapt quickly will win. Those employers that do not will flounder.