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“Work” Has Changed

Earlier this month, I read an article about employees quitting their jobs. The past year of the pandemic and world being on locked gave a lot of people time to think. According to the article, all of that thinking had people make a tough decision: whether to continue at their jobs or leave.  Many chose to leave and the prediction is that many more will follow suit. Now we can look at this from different viewpoints, but I choose to look at this as an opportunity to think about how the world of work can change for the better. In order to do that, it’s important to review the reasons that some people (especially women) are leaving their jobs:

  1. Long hours:  Let’s face it, people work A LOT of hours.  I can think of a number of people who have “40 hour jobs” and really work 60+ hours per week. Is it really a surprise that employees are saying that they’re done with this?  As a society, we have grown accustomed to working longer and harder in order to prove that we’re valuable employees, and that is a culture problem that needs to change. One thing organizations should consider is making a strategic plan about changing the idea of what “working hard” really means. Does it really mean answering emails on the weekend or being available at every minute?
  2. Work from home:I’ve written about this before, but I will say it clearly- more people will quit their jobs if employers demand returning to the office. Hear me out- this past year proved that with the right equipment, effective and efficient work can be done from home. Obviously, this does not apply to all jobs, but it does apply to many. If a particular job can be completed from home (and it has been), maybe employers should consider allowing those jobs to remain at home (or at least offer a part-time home option). *For employers who just like to micromanage, I’ve got a post coming up for you.
  3. Entrepreneurship:Now, this was something really great about the pandemic- many people started their own businesses within the past year. Months ago, I wrote about women (especially minority women) being hit to the hardest during the pandemic because many of them either went part-time or left their jobs due to caring for their kids. Guess what those women did? They started businesses! Almost half of the businesses started by women during the pandemic were by minority women. Guess what else?  They’re not returning to their old jobs.  If your business was doing well and you got to dictate your hours and be with your family, would you return to your previous job?
  4. Low wages:  Now this is the topic that has people saying a range of things, but let’s look at this.  The minimum wage has not been raised since 2009, yet inflation is still occurring (has anyone looked at housing prices lately?). It is not farfetched to think that people are choosing not to return to low paying jobs. This isn’t just happening with minimum wage jobs either. Job searchers want salary information up front and they want salaries that match their years of work, expertise, and educational degrees. Is anyone surprised that this is happening?  I’m surprised it didn’t happen sooner. All of these items have changed what our workforce looks like right now, and employers have some decisions to make.

It is important that we review hiring practices, recruiting practices, and workplace policies before going back to “normal.” Past normal is gone and new normal is here. What new normal says is that we have to treat people decently and not assume that employees will take anything thrown at them. New normal says that if we require an “arm and leg” from candidates to be considered for a position, then we should be ready to pay them well for it. Finally, new normal says that potential employees will wait for the best offer instead of taking what is first offered and suffering mentally, emotionally, and physically for it later. New normal means new opportunities to create a better working environment.

Keep leading and stay safe,

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