At the moment there is a lot of attention toward what is perceived as a coming labor crisis. Businesses are concerned about an apparent shortage of workers and the potential for high turnover. Despite what many business owners are saying, most job seekers in 2022 know this situation isn’t about their lack of enthusiasm for work. It’s not even that there is a shortage of labor. Rather there’s a lack of employers willing to provide fair and positive conditions for working.
This isn’t just a case of a demand for higher — or even living — wages. In many ways, this has started to create a shift in the employment power balance. Workers know how valuable their skills are to businesses and rightly feel they should collaborate with companies that consider their needs and interests. As such, what job hunters can expect and demand has changed significantly over recent years.
We’re going to examine a few elements today’s labor force values most in jobs. How is this changing the shape of employment and what job seekers should focus on during searches, interviews, and negotiations?
Highly ethical behavior is among the key elements today’s labor force expects of its employers. This is certainly understandable, as job seekers don’t want to place their time, energy, and talents into activities not aligned with their values. While in the past businesses may have felt free to place profits before values, many recognize this is not a route to engagement and retention.
This begins with the ethical treatment of the workforce itself. Job seekers want to ensure not only they but also their colleagues are being treated fairly. Employees are also more likely to post on employer review sites if they feel aspects of a company’s actions are unethical in any way. Candidates take lack of meaningful diversity and poor commitment to wage equality into account when making decisions.
The focus on a company’s ethical behavior isn’t limited to how they treat their workers, either. Today’s labor force wants to be certain the actions of their employers have a positive impact on the community and the planet. Sustainability remains a high priority and workers want to see genuine efforts in this regard.
Businesses also need to be careful to avoid the potential for greenwashing. This is the practice of companies deceiving a more eco-conscious public into believing the business uses green methods. It is an unethical approach designed to boost profits without mitigating the negative effects on the planet. The current labor force has no patience for these tactics and this impacts not only retention but the company’s reputation among workers.
Another clear expectation of the current labor force is the requirement to be respected as humans. Quite rightly, they don’t want to feel as though they’re another company asset to be used and abused. As such, workers and job seekers tend to prioritize business demonstrating a high level of consideration for employee welfare and wellbeing.
This includes making certain businesses minimize the general risks on the job. There are certain industries and roles in which hazardous activities are part and parcel of the job. Shipyard workers are exposed to the potential for physical injury and even delivery drivers are subject to automobile accidents and pollution-related illness. But this doesn’t make it any less a responsibility for employers to constantly review working conditions and develop methods to improve safety. Particularly following the COVID-19 pandemic, workers want to see businesses are making extra efforts to keep everyone safe and healthy.
But this consideration has to go beyond safety standards. Workers expect their immediate supervisors and business leaders to take a genuine interest in them on an individual basis. This includes regular check-ins to discuss overall wellbeing and how they’re coping with the stress of their position. There should also be a focus on workers’ personal and professional development. Indeed, one report found 94% of employees would stay at a company that invested in their development. Supporting workers in this regard helps to maintain job security and can renew workers’ commitment to the organization.
A healthy balance
Today’s labor force is cognizant that work isn’t the be-all and end-all of existence. They need space for personal growth, time to spend with their families, and experiences free from stress. As such, the workforce also wants employers to demonstrably recognize and appreciate this. One of the key focuses at the moment for job seekers and employees is how this factors into the culture of a business they’re engaging with.
Particularly since the pandemic, there is an awareness of how external pressures and stress contribute to poor psychological health. The workplace is a major contributing factor for most people. As such, employers need to help their employees to build a robust set of tools to maintain their mental wellness. This may include guided meditation sessions or even subsidized access to therapists or psychiatrists. Establishing these coping mechanisms is a route to making certain employees can achieve the balance they need.
However, employees are setting greater expectations about the balance. The pandemic has made them more keenly aware that many businesses don’t need to insist on a fully in-person workforce. Employees can be just as productive in hybrid or remote operations. Importantly, working from home also relieves their commuting time and allows them to care for their families. Businesses providing workers with the option and resources for remote work are likely to retain talent in the long term.
There has been a distinct shift in the attitudes of the contemporary labor force. In the last year, there have been movements to demonstrate workers’ demand to be treated with the respect they deserve. Many of the current priorities for employees revolve around a distinct set of values. These include adherence to a strong set of ethical standards and employers that demonstrate genuine care for workers’ wellbeing. There is also a greater emphasis on how businesses help employees to maintain a healthy balance in their lives. Companies with a commitment to meeting these needs are likely to find a more positive response from talented professionals in the current climate.
About the Author:
Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of topics but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to business productivity and marketing strategies.