Employers struggle to find workers after over a year of pandemic

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Help wanted signs and job postings are popping up everywhere. This as many are using the pandemic to consider new occupations and a different approach to work. We talked about the current labor landscape with Sharon Irwin-Foulon, Executive Director of ASU’s W. P. Carey career-management and employer-engagement department.

Irwin-Foulon began by asking whether what some refer to as a current labor shortage is actually more of a labor reset. That would involve the power structures at the workplaces being slightly different and the rethinking of how and why people are working.

Irwin-Foulon said that she thinks part of the lack of labor is due to fear of catching COVID, and part of it is the re-adjustment period. After last March, many people got into a sort of rhythm with the new normal that is now getting pushed against.

“It’s a balance between employee and employer and all of those dynamics,” she said.

Irwin-Foulon also said that in some cases, people are seizing the opportunity to negotiate higher wages. In others, they’ve learned how to tighten the belt a bit and spend less on non-essentials like eating out.

She also said that many large employee search consultant firms are taking into consideration employer flexibility in their hiring processes. She attributes that as a result of the new normal shift that took place over a year ago.

“It’s the suite. Compensation matters—is it a five-day work week or a four-day? What’s the composition of work-life balance, benefits, flexibility on my lifestyle… all of those pieces, I think it’s definitely a seller’s market from an employee perspective,” she said.

Irwin-Foulon said that her biggest concern is that what’s creating the shortage is employers being slow to recognize that leverage.

Sharon Irwin-Foulon, Executive Director of the W. P. Carey Career Management and Employer Engagement

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