Tracy Wood ~ October 24, 2022
“Nobody wants to work anymore!”
We’ve all heard the phrase. Recently, it’s made its way back into common lingo–likely due to the large number of workers who left their jobs during the pandemic.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 47 million Americans voluntarily quit their jobs in 2021. That year, nervous economists dubbed this mass exit from the workforce the “Great Resignation.” Today the labor market remains tight, meaning there is a surplus of vacant jobs and a shortage of available workers–seemingly supporting the argument that “nobody wants to work anymore!”
However, a recent viral Twitter thread, titled A Brief History of Nobody Wants to Work Anymore, featuring newspaper clippings that date back to 1894, exposed that the phrase has been in mainstream jargon for 100 years. What’s more, several leading economists researching the “nobody wants to work anymore” phenomenon have come forward to declare the “Great Resignation” a misnomer for recent labor trends.
So what does all this mean, exactly?
The Great Rethink
At LinkedIn, they’ve renamed the “Great Resignation” to the “Great Reshuffle”calling out how workers aren’t actually leaving the workforce–they’re simply quitting their jobs for better jobs. Others have renamed it the “Great Discontent” or the “Great Upgrade” for the ways in which employees are raising their standards in qualitative areas (such as better mentorship, team culture, and mission) in addition to better pay.
Most, however, have landed on the “Great Rethink,” pointing to how workers have been pushed to rethink their relationship with work and how it fits into their lives. For example, many employees (mostly women) have been forced to rethink their work-life balance to focus on childcare. For some, the “Great Rethink” is about finding more meaning and engagement in work. For others, it’s about switching industries to open up new pay opportunities.
Whatever the reason, the “Great Rethink” makes it clear: it’s not that nobody wants to work anymore, it’s that nobody wants to work the way they used to anymore. As a result of the massive disruption caused by COVID-19, employees’ priorities, attitudes, and behaviors have shifted–resulting in a tight labor market.
This is likely what the recorded anecdotes in A Brief History of Nobody Wants to Work Anymore are signaling over and over again: a disruption. A shift. A rethink. A sign that people are working in new ways and leaving jobs that do not support their new priorities–and, most importantly, that employers have yet to catch up.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, labor force participation rate is expected to fall over the next few years–due to natural changes in the population (such as Baby Boomers retiring from the workforce). This swing has the potential to further tighten the already tight U.S. labor market.
“Nobody wants to work anymore” gets that part right: something is wrong. However, it ignores the most essential piece of the puzzle: why. Why are employees leaving jobs? The why gives us insight into the what: what will it take to get America back to work?
Back to Work
In mainstream media and economics, the “Great Rethink” focuses on the employee; it’s about how employees are rethinking their relationship to work and how work fits into their lives. But here at S2Verify, we think it’s all about employers.
It’s about employers digging into the “why” behind current labor trends so they can figure out what employees want and deliver on it–ultimately encouraging participation in the workforce over time. The “Great Rethink” puts the onus on employers to rethink their own relationship to work and how it fits into the lives of their employees.
At S2Verify, we support employers–the recruiters, hiring managers, and HR leaders on the front lines of the current labor problem. From background checks to employment verifications, we help employers streamline the hiring process and serve the modern worker. Together, we’re dreaming up a future where companies are thriving, employees enjoy their jobs, and America is back to work.
What Does the Modern Worker Want?
But, what exactly will bring Americans back to work? We’ve covered a lot of the “why” behind current employee behavior in the U.S. labor market, but what exactly does the modern worker want?
During the next few weeks, we’ll explore this question on our blog and through our America Back to Work: Expert Interview Series. Read along as we go deeper into the tastes, attitudes, and behaviors of the modern worker. Learn practical tips for delivering on employee demands. Hear from industry experts as they dig into the data and offer best practices for hiring and retention.
To start the series, we’re focusing on one of the hottest topics in the space: the hiring process. On the blog, we’ll dig into the pain points of hiring in the current labor climate and share how to design a hassle-free hiring process for the modern employee–with powerful tools such as professional license verifications.
Then, join us virtually on Twitter Spaces for our first America Back To Work: Expert Interview Series on
November 4 at 1:00pm ET
with William Tincup, editor-in-chief at Recruiting Daily. He and co-founder and chief strategy officer, Arnette Heintze, go deeper into the current hiring landscape and the human capital demands of the present and future.
Click here to save your spot today!