As the vaccinated workforce considers joining work in offices, certain challenges need to be addressed.
Foremost among them are:
- A safe and healthy environment.
- Work-life balance.
- Insuring against a future livelihood shock similar to the one posed by the pandemic.
The workforce fallout from the coronavirus outbreak, in other words, may have only just begun in the post-pandemic scenario.
The U.S. gross domestic product figures are nearer to pre-pandemic ones, but the job rebound is slightly slower.
Payroll processor ADP surveyed more than 32,000 workers globally and found that most employees appreciated the flexibility of working from home and they wanted it to continue. Companies and employees have both reported improved productivity.
Post Pandemic career reshuffles are expected
But this improved productivity is not a result of better and focused utilization of time, but the added work hours that the workforce has put in. A survey by Eagle Hill Consulting says workers considering quitting their jobs are simply burned out. NordVPN Teams, a remote software provider, says workers in the U.S. increased their average workday by three hours — that’s a 40% increase and the largest jump worldwide.
The ADP survey found that the unpaid hours of workers across the globe went up by about 25%, from 7.2 to 9.3 per week. In the United States, it more than doubled from 4.1 to 9.
People, and women in particular, “may be returning to a corporate landscape that expects more hours worked with less compensation,” said Nela Richardson, ADP’s chief economist. “That’s a post-COVID burden, which could potentially frustrate hopes to reemploy the roughly 2 million U.S. women still absent from the labor force compared with February 2020.”
Most workers took on more responsibilities and put in extra hours in response to the crisis and an attempt to keep their jobs in tough times.
The result of this new norm and expectations is that workers want a more hybrid work mode where they can report to work in offices on certain days in a week, or most are looking for alternatives or upskilling as an insurance against further shocks.
Prudential’s Pulse of the American Worker Survey says that 26% of workers – that’s 1 in 4 – plan to look for a job at a different company when the pandemic ends. Axios reports that the number of workers planning to leave employers is highest (34%) among millennials. They form the largest section of the workforce today.
Another problem facing the job market is the stimulation checks that have led to some workers refusing to go back to minimum wage pay jobs. They are happy to cash in their security and stimulus checks for the moment.
Moreover, the post-pandemic job market is still evolving with some sectors making a quick recovery and others such as hospitality and retail still floundering.
The large-scale transition to online shopping has shifted consumer behavior in potentially permanent ways, along with greater automation of the service sector. There is a rush to automate as many activities as possible, especially in consumer-facing businesses, to cut costs and build social distancing, requiring fewer employees.
But analysts feel that the job market will settle down after this disruption, as in the past. Bank of America’s Ethan Harris and Jeseo Park argue that over time people will find jobs.
“While the COVID crisis has likely sped up structural changes in the labor market, these multi-decade changes are much slower than the dynamics of the business cycle,” wrote Harris, the bank’s head of global economics, and Park, a global and U.S. economist. “Over time the labor market will re-invent itself as it has done repeatedly across history.”
In the interim, the unemployment figures might go up in some sectors. For example, a recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics study indicated that the U.S. economy might have 3 million jobs fewer than it would otherwise by 2029. The greatest job losses would be among waiters, retail clerks and other front-line service occupations.