Occasionally someone will say something that stops you in your tracks. Sometimes it’s profound and sometimes it’s not. But it will get you thinking. And then you start talking about it with others. Eventually, you will get to “what’s going on?”
I’ll tell you what happened.
I was in a meeting about career awareness and a gentleman asked, “Do people value work anymore?”
Internally, I’m yelling, “Well of course they do!”
Same gentleman. “I’ve never seen as many opportunities within the last year and half for people to take advantage of and they won’t do it.”
Chewing my lip, “Some people value work.”
“You can’t throw a rock without hitting a help wanted sign in this county!”
Staring hard at this man, “I mean, he’s not wrong…”
And that’s what I’ve been thinking about the past several months. What’s going on with employment in Wayne County? Why aren’t more people working?
Wages are up
Many employers have raised starting wages close too or past that magical $15 an hour number. And yet people aren’t applying.
Per capita income is up
One of the Employability Coalition’s goals is see higher per capita income levels in Wayne County. That’s shown a steady increase as well.
Everyone is hiring
Literally every industry in Wayne County is hiring. And I’m not one to throw rocks, but you could just take a drive around Wayne County and see hundreds of help wanted signs.
This used to be one of the top two reasons for not being able to work. But even with pandemic funding, there are many options to pay for childcare at little to no cost for some people. And yet, childcare seats remain open.
This is still a valid reason for a select group of people. However, some employers are rewarding workers that give rides to other workers. They are also looking at implementing ride-share programs to get people to work.
Sign on bonuses
Even this carrot is not working. So what’s going on? Can it all be attributed to the “great resignation?”
Created by Texas A&M Professor Anthony Klotz, this thought implies that people would rather leave their jobs than return to the status quo. People had a year to think about priorities and work was important, but not as important as other things.
I think this is part of the reason. The pandemic showed us that people can work from home and more importantly, they can work from anywhere. Forbes published a great article about how this is translating for a worker.
I ramble on about this because I still believe people value work. But maybe they value work-life balance more.
Are our employers taking note and making changes? Or are they trying to get their businesses operating back to the status quo? Employees don’t want rigidity, they want flexibility.
One the other side, workers need to understand that not every position can be flexible. And that they can’t expect to make high wages with little to no experience or training. Further, employment is still important. Large gaps in employment is hard to explain in interviews.
Don’t make a self-imposed case for employers not to hire you.
I don’t have specific answers as to why more people aren’t working. There are certainly options. But I want to throw this thought out there too.
Do people see the possibilities ahead of or in front of them? Or do they think that what they are currently experiencing is the best they’ll ever get?
Perhaps if people could see the possibilities, it would change what the “value of work” means to them.
Sometimes all it takes is a little education. Maybe a person is in a lower wage job. Have they thought about getting a credential? Next Level Jobs is still available. More education leads to higher wages and more opportunities. The data proves it.
Do people know that they have options? The employment field is so open right now, that it might be time to consider a career change. And employers are willing to train people on the job.
Sometimes you have to get started. Get back to work Wayne County! Your efforts, time, and experience will lead to promotions, new opportunities, and areas of growth both personally and economically.
Do people know about career pathways in their field of choice? You may start off as a C.N.A., but you don’t have to stay there. What’s stopping you from becoming an R.N.? Don’t limit yourself.
Finally, 2020 gave people time to think and prioritize. Is it possible to turn what you are passionate about into a new employment opportunity? It’s all about possibilities. And putting value into the kind of work you want to do.
Let’s get started.