Serving Franklin County, WA

Employers Struggle to Find Work Balance

Today, employers continue to struggle finding enough workers while attempting to bring people back to the office (work sites).

A key problem is there simply aren’t enough people to fill available jobs. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reported at the end of February, there were 9.9 million job openings and 5.9 million unemployed workers. The Chamber added if every unemployed person in the country found a job, there would still be 4 million vacant positions.

As America emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic, many employers want people back in the office. The conversation around returning to the office has the potential to be a contentious one.

Now that employees have proven they can work from home, they want flexibility, and they’re willing to change jobs to get it, a Deloitte survey determined.

A bellwether case testing the remote vs. on-site work is occurring at Disney.

Earlier this year, CEO Bob Iger ordered employees to return to their worksite four days a week starting in March. In January, over 2,000 workers signed a petition asking Iger to reconsider the policy.

“As you’ve heard me say many times, creativity is the heart and soul of who we are and what we do at Disney,” Iger said in his memo obtained by CNBC. “And in a creative business like ours, nothing can replace the ability to connect, observe, and create with peers that comes from being physically together, nor the opportunity to grow professionally by learning from leaders and mentors.”

In February, the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) reported new research offers a warning to employers about implementing such policies. Employees may quit if they are asked to return to the office—or they may ask for more money.

SHRM referenced a recent analysis by Clarify Capital, a financial consultancy in New York City. Clarify interviewed more than 1,000 remote workers. Nearly 7 in 10 employees (68 percent) said they would rather look for a new job than return to the office. That figure is even higher among Generation Z (age under 26) workers, of which 79 percent said they would look for a new job over returning to the office.

According to the Chamber boosted unemployment benefits, stimulus payments, and child tax credits have padded the finances of some previously employed workers, and they no longer need to work or in some cases have adjusted to a single-income household lifestyle.

Even though employers want people back in the workplace, CBS news reports record high gas prices are the latest deterrent for millions to return to the office as they face costlier commutes. The cost of a gallon of gas in Washington averaged $4.40 last month compared to $2.30 in April 2020.

Transportation costs plus travel times were a problem for families before Covid-19, particularly parents with toddlers and school-age children. “The pandemic exposed just how broken the country’s childcare system is: It costs parents too much and pays employees too little. More than half of the country’s residents live in a childcare desert,” USA TODAY reporter Alia Wong wrote.

Nearly 3 in 4 parents surveyed said access to childcare is a challenge. And nearly 1 in 3 parents said they’d been reprimanded at work because of childcare problems. As a result, 41 percent said childcare problems have forced them to turn down a new job offer.

Not all work can be done remotely. There are on-site requirements for many. For example, assembling a Boeing 777 or repairing a downed powerline are not remote jobs.

However, finding the balance which works for both is a big challenge requiring creativity, flexibility, understanding, and effective two-way communications. Today’s post-corona virus world is vastly difference and facing issues before they become problems is essential to survivability.

–– Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist He can be contacted at [email protected].


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