The Fog of So-Much-Happening-All-at-Once
What the hell is going on in the jobs market?
Quote of the Moment
It is the aim of public life to arrange that all forms of power are entrusted, so far as possible, to people who effectively consent to be bound by the obligation towards all human beings which lies upon everyone, and who understand the obligation.
| Simone Weil, Draft for a Statement of Human Obligation
I propose that we redirect Weil’s statement to leadership in the workplace, and the Retransformation that is going on in the economy, in view but shrouded by the fog of so-much-happening-all-at-once. Josh Bersin’s argument (discussed in Confusion Reigns, below) lines up with that assessment.
In The Confusing Job Market: CEOs and CHROs Seem Baffled, Josh Bersin has an answer to a key question: what the hell is going on in the job market?
We have entered one of the most confusing job markets in decades. While the unemployment rate continues to drop (3.5% here, 2.4% in Japan), companies are also worried about the slowdown. So they’re “hiring” and “laying off” simultaneously. What a confusing time.
He shares the findings of a PWC study:
First, the job market is in crisis. 81% of workers are burned out, people are taking a vacation, and employees just want a break.
That could explain why people are quitting their jobs, but it doesn’t deal with companies hiring and firing at the same time. Bersin offers this great insight:
Every industry is transforming into something else. And this shift, which we call The Big Reset, is creating demand for jobs, people, and new business models. So demand, while shifting, is not going away.
Actually, I would restate the last statement: So demand is not going away, it is shifting, as part of the Retransformation.
Retailers are becoming healthcare companies (Amazon Care will become bigger than Amazon Prime, as the company just acquired OneMedical and announced partnerships with Ginger and others). Auto companies are becoming electric manufacturers (Ford’s layoff is more of an engineering transition from internal combustion technology to electronic technology). Chemical and Oil companies are moving into Hydrogen and Batteries. And healthcare companies are struggling to become more efficient.
Prior to the pandemic, companies had been deferring or slow-rolling necessary adaptations to changes in the economy and their particular industries. The pandemic arrives, and as Mike Tyson famously said,
Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.
Of course, you can also get punched in the mouth when lacking a plan, too.
But now, companies have been punched in the mouth, and whether they had or did not have a plan, it’s time for a new one. And not just a plan to deal with this or other viruses, but a completely reconsidered society.
Since the term quiet quitting — where people do the bare minimum at work instead of leaving a job they couldn’t care less about (or where the job couldn’t care less about them) — has come into common usage, let’s designate plain-vanilla quitting as loud.
A group of McKinseyites, led by Aaron De Smet, make an interesting argument: even though demand for talent is high, companies can’t seem to find candidates. Why?
What we are seeing is a fundamental mismatch between companies’ demand for talent and the number of workers willing to supply it. Employers continue to rely on traditional levers to attract and retain people, including compensation, titles, and advancement opportunities. Those factors are important, particularly for a large reservoir of workers we call “traditionalists.” However, the COVID-19 pandemic has led more and more people to reevaluate what they want from a job—and from life—which is creating a large pool of active and potential workers who are shunning the traditionalist path.
As a result, there is now a structural gap in the labor supply because there simply aren’t enough traditional employees to fill all the openings.
They suggest companies need to cast a wider net to pull in non-traditionalists. One form of tradition-breaking is workers moving across industries:
Vitally, companies can no longer assume that they can fill empty slots with workers similar to the ones who just left. Globally, just 35 percent of those who quit in the past two years took a new job in the same industry. In finance and insurance, for instance, 65 percent of workers changed industries or did not return to the workforce. In the public and social sector, the exodus was even greater, at 72 percent.
Bad bosses are apparently the culprits in many defections:
To navigate this new playing field successfully, hiring managers can look beyond the current imbalance in labor supply and demand and consider what different segments of workers want and how best to engage them.
To do this, employers should understand the common themes that reveal what people most value, or most dislike, about a job. For instance, it cannot be overstated just how influential a bad boss can be in causing people to leave. And while in the past an attractive salary could keep people in a job despite a bad boss, that is much less true now than it was before the pandemic.
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