We see it every day. Pundits make predictions about everything from the weather to the stock market to the Super Bowl. Now, I don’t presume to be a pundit and I certainly don’t have a crystal ball, but I am fortunate to have grown up in the HR business, to have colleagues across the country that I compare notes with, and the backing of organizations like the Society for Human Resources and the National Association of PEOs who have a constant pulse on the workforce.
I believe that one of the most important leadership skills is the ability to see what’s ahead. I also believe that leaders need to support their thinking and adjust where needed. That’s why I decided to reflect on what I said about the pandemic and its impact on the job market, employee relations, and the nature of work. Were my predictions on target? Let’s take a look:
Early last February, I spoke with reporter Hannah Lang of the Wall Street Journal for her story: “Job Openings Pick Up in Pandemic-Resilient Industries.” The story was based on the jobs report of January 2021, showing how some industries were weathering the COVID-19 storm. She interviewed me to get a small business point of view. Here’s an excerpt from her article:
“There’s been a realization that most small businesses can have at least some employees work remotely,” Steve maintained. “This is an opportunity for small businesses that have been previously resistant to a non-traditional workforce.” “It opens a huge labor market that was the sole domain of the corporate world. Now that smaller employers have been thrust into offering remote work and flexible schedules, the labor pool will become more equalized.”
Reflections and suggestions: When it comes to remote work, “it is largely here to stay,” Dana Peterson, the chief economist of The Conference Board told Yahoo Finance. She explained that more than one in three CEOs expect more of their workers to be working from home or remotely rather than in the office. If you’re not already offering some form of hybrid or remote work, and you can, it is time to change your policies.
The mental health crisis
In March of 2021, I wrote a blog article entitled, “Understanding the New Mindset of the American Workforce.” In it, I talked about the rise of the employee-first model.
“COVID-19 has changed many things about employees’ mindsets and experts predict there may be no going back to normal, only going forward to a new reality based on a worker-centric business model. Smart employers are taking note and taking action. . . Best-in-class employers will appreciate how their team members are feeling, and respond by adhering to four tenants: communicate, educate, comply and mitigate.”
Reflections and suggestions: Great employee relations has always been the secret to talent retention, productivity, and client satisfaction. In 2021, we learned that even the best benefits and pay alone are not enough. According to a recent survey, one of the top three strengths demonstrated by leaders during the pandemic was showing empathy and compassion. If you’re not listening to your people, if you’re not showing that you care about them as humans, they will find another employer who will. Period.
The Great Resignation
Bloomberg Quicktake’s Madison Mills interviewed me live in May 2021 about the huge numbers of older Americans considering early retirement. She asked about the retirement and resignation trends I’ve been seeing. Here are some of my comments.
“Older workers who may have helped build the business are exiting in a way they haven’t before: no succession planning, no long-term play here; they’re exiting quickly and that’s something to be concerned about. On the flip side, it creates a lot of opportunity for the younger generation.”
Reflections and suggestions: Retirements are continuing. In fact in December, CNN reported that of the 3.6 million Americans who left the labor force and said they didn’t want a job in November, 90% were over 55. If you’re an employer who has lost talent to early retirements, backfilling the job may not be the best idea. Now is the time to reassess. This might be the opportunity to upgrade your team, invest in technology to handle parts of the job, or outsource.
The secret to a great 2022 might just be in the HR advisor you hire. You can look to NEMR Total HR to anticipate what’s happening in the labor force and advise you on the people decisions that are critical to your business success. You can Chat Live with us to learn more or Email Us.