Signing out of account, Standby…
Many business leaders are feeling powerless to the worsening labor crisis, which some say was caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. But what if there were other reasons for this issue, reasons that are squarely within your hands as a business leader to address?
Most people thought that “The Great Resignation” and the labor crisis would be a temporary issue. But not only has the situation not recovered, it is getting worse.
Although 428,000 jobs were added in May 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, participation in the labor force declined to 62.2% in April and 363,000 left the workforce, worsening the worker shortage crisis.
Most people blame, at least in part, the global pandemic as a cause or at least a catalyst for the mass exodus, but as Harvard Business Review (HBR) noted in March 2022, a “record number of workers did quit their jobs in 2021 … If you consider that number in the context of total employment during the past dozen years … You can see that what we are living through is not just short-term turbulence provoked by the pandemic but rather the continuation of a long-term trend.”
Related: How Entrepreneurs Can Find Great Talent Despite a Labor Shortage
The reality is that this is an issue that has been steadily worsening for over a decade and the disproportionate focus on the pandemic’s impact is not only erroneous but prevents employers from understanding the real reasons for these trends — reasons that, for the most part, are very much within their sphere of influence.
It is very easy to feel helpless about the situation when it seems to be caused by an international health crisis that you could not influence, change or control. But when you realize the real reasons that this trend has been not only increasing, but gaining momentum in recent years, most of the reasons are aspects of the working experience that employers can change.
If you look at the top 10 reasons that U.S. workers left a job in 2021, as Pew Research Center reports they are (in priority order): Pay was too low, no opportunities for advancement, felt disrespected at work, because of child care issues, not enough flexibility to choose when to put in hours, benefits weren’t good, wanted to relocate to a different area, working too many hours, working too few hours and employer required a Covid-19 vaccine.
Going back to 2015, The Business Journals shared that five reasons that research had shown to cause people to leave were that they weren’t growing professionally, they weren’t happy with the work they were doing, they didn’t feel important, they lacked support to do their jobs well and they weren’t paid enough.
And looking back 10 years to 2012, Leader Chat shared that the top 10 reasons people quit were limited career/promotion opportunities, supervisor lacked respect/support, compensation, job duties boring/no challenge, supervisor lacked leadership skills, work hours, unavoidable reasons, supervisor poor employee relations, supervisor displayed favoritism and not recognized for their contribution.
Related: How Leaders Can Beat the Labor Crisis
When you look at the patterns and trends across the last decade, the big picture becomes clear — employees have realized that they are no longer willing to work in roles and for employers that consistently compromise their universal needs. They are no longer willing to do a job that is detrimental to their physical, mental and emotional well-being.
So, what are just some of the universal needs that are at the root of this worsening labor crisis?
Related: Record High: U.S. Now Has 2 Job Openings for Every Person Who Is Unemployed
All of this means is that addressing the labor crisis isn’t a question of finding more people, instead, it’s a question of creating a culture and an environment that people actually want to be a part of. A working experience that not only does not negatively impact these needs but actually supports your employees in getting them met.
The reality is that there’s no such thing as a labor crisis right now if:
An organization that fits these criteria is how we define a destination workplace, and it is the most powerful antidote to the labor crisis, both in the present and in the future.
When you start putting your focus there, not only does it empower you to do something to stop your business from being affected by the labor crisis in the short term, but it gives you the blueprint to create an organization that people want to be a part of, which is the only thing which will protect your business from the future labor trends, which according to the numbers are only going to continue to get worse.

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