If employers can’t find workers, they should stop complaining and start offering better jobs

Posted on August 1, 2021 in Debates

Source: — Authors:

TheStar.com – Opinion/Editorials
July 29, 2021.   By Star Editorial Board

How very charming of employers to cite as a chief reason for current labour shortages one so unflattering to the workers they apparently need.

The Star’s Rosa Saba reported this week that as businesses reopen across Canada many say they’re having difficulty finding hourly workers — and some of those bosses are blaming it on federal income supports such as the Canada Recovery Benefit or Employment Insurance that have made life too cushy.

Idlers, they suggest, need more incentive to go back to work.

This is profoundly insulting to a workforce just emerging from an historically difficult and challenging experience.

There are a few things employers need to remember.

The pre-COVID-19 economy — with its bounty for the few and precariousness for the many — was not working, especially for millennials. And most especially for those in the front-lines of low-paying, no-benefit service jobs.

The difficulties employers are citing are not the fault of CRB but the consequence of pre-pandemic problems coming home to roost.

The lack of affordable child-care, skill gaps and inadequate training and the rise in part-time employment has left young people unable to get traction in the economy of the sort previous generations took for granted.

It should hardly be surprising that people — especially women, who took the biggest hit in the pandemic — are not beating down the doors to return to low wages, lousy shifts and possibly unsafe conditions.

And there is a more significant factor that grumbling by old-style bosses about CRB isn’t going to change.

As has frequently been said, a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.

Workers have been told they’re not going back to the old normal. They were told we were going to “build back better.”

It would appear people have taken such talk seriously.

The Ernst & Yonge Work Reimagined Employee Survey, a study of more than 16,000 workers in 16 countries in multiple industries and roles, found that more than half of employees globally would quit their jobs if not provided with post-pandemic flexibility in where and when they work.

Millennials were twice as likely as baby boomers to say they would leave. And why, after all, should that generation be particularly committed to an economy that’s dealt it such a lousy hand.

When business-as-usual blew up, we all had a chance to rethink accepted norms. The pandemic normalized remote work. People seem to like it.

Working from home turned out to be something of a leveller for gender equality and diversity. And workers say they want at least a hybrid model post-pandemic.

Front-line service industry jobs can’t be done from home but those workers, many of whom were deemed essential in the pandemic, have every reason to expect better working conditions and wages in their fields.

The pandemic provided some unexpected benefits.

It freed workers from soul-crushing commutes. People found more time to prepare healthy meals, to get more exercise. They spent less on clothing and styling and worked harder to explore and support local businesses.

Stewart Butterfield, CEO and co-founder of the messaging platform Slack, has said “we all know that work will never be the same, even if we don’t yet know all the ways in which it will be different.”

What can be said with certainty, he observed, is that the pandemic “provided a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reimagine everything about how we do our jobs and how we run our companies.”

Perhaps that is what the workforce is doing, imagining a better way to live.

Rather than casting insults and wishing for the old normal, perhaps business should do some reimagining, too, about improving an economic model that left most people too stressed to live well and struggling to make ends meet.



Tags: , , ,

This entry was posted on Sunday, August 1st, 2021 at 12:56 pm and is filed under Debates. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply