Companies are hearing that, and job postings on websites such as LinkedIn have "tons of open remote jobs across all sorts of industries," said Stephen Washington, director of community engagement and business partnerships at Central State University.
Sixty-one percent of respondents said a flexible/hybrid policy will remain in place at their firms after the pandemic ends, according to a July survey of members by the National Association for Business Economics, a professional association of business economists.
The survey also found that 51% of member firms increased wages in the second quarter, up from 31% in the first quarter.
Businesses likely will struggle to find and retain workers if they fail to offer attractive wages and benefits, don't make employees feel valued and safe, and if they don't offer flexibility to parents struggling with pandemic-related child care issues, the experts said.
"Employers should really up their game in terms of recognition and retention," Eckert said. "What I mean by that is a lot of times people leave a job because they're not satisfied or they don't feel appreciated or valued, especially by their immediate supervisor."
The pandemic has caused people to focus more on work-life balance, he said, and jobs that fully utilize their talents.
"People just now have the opportunity and have what I would think of as more of a 'Great Awakening.' And now the resignations are coming," said author Jeanet Wade, founder of St. Louis-based consulting firm Business Alchemist. "(The pandemic) allowed us to step back and say: 'What's really most important? Am I valuable? What do I care most about?'"
What can businesses do? Businesses can make the most of this opportunity by becoming known as workplaces where people can pursue their passions, feel challenged, connected and that they are contributing, Wade said.
"They should have been proactive all along on creating great workplaces, on valuing people and human beings at work," Wade said. "It might be a little bit late, but it's now an opportunity to change their business model."
It is always less expensive to retain employees than to find new ones, so businesses would be well-served to take this opportunity to ask, "What are we doing to listen to and appreciate our current workers?" Eckert said.
Businesses also could do more to attract a diverse workforce to resolve their hiring problems, Washington said, such as partnering with historically Black universities like Central State. He uses as an example the university's summer banking internship, in which sponsoring banks pick up interns' housing and transportation costs and cover the credit hour cost for the class.
"We see a lot of mobility among those students. Being able to get other jobs, get better jobs," Washington said. "So I think that's a matter of just opening up of opportunity."
Eckert said younger people expect to move around in their careers, not staying in the same place for decades as their parents may have done.
"Trust in organizations really changed during the Great Recession," Eckert said. "People who thought they were going to have a great career at one place got laid off."
And while he discourages frequent job-hopping, Eckert said studies show people who change jobs tend to make more money over the long run.
The experts believe the labor shortage will ultimately resolve itself once the pandemic wanes, vaccinations rise, federal pandemic aid programs end, and parents get their kids into school or child care centers.
That won't stop employers from complaining they can't find workers with the right skills, a perennial complaint that pre-dates the pandemic. But it may mean the power will once again shift away from workers and make today's lucrative job offers and bonuses less common.
"It is a surprisingly good time to be searching right now and trying to win a new offer. And so I'd recommend to people that if they want to make a move, do it sooner rather than later," Challenger said. "Don't expect this to last forever. There is kind of a 'time is of the essence' component to the job search right now."
How to resign from a job Have another job lined up first.
Give two weeks notice in a thoughtful letter to your boss.
Ask to meet with your boss.
Seek permission to cite work you've created.
Ask your boss or other co-workers to be references for you.
End the relationship in a civil manner.
Be prepared when you give notice for your employer to have you leave immediately.
Source: Jason Eckert, executive director of career services at the University of Dayton
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