Employers Are Contributing to Labor Shortage

Your entitlement mentality is driving away applicants and employees.

Photo by Charles Büchler on Unsplash

There is a debate going around the United States and Great Britain about large employers moaning and carping about why people don’t want to work. Large and medium-sized businesses in particular are playing the victim and pretending that they simply can’t hire more workers. What they don’t tell you is they are sabotaging none other than themselves because of their entitlement mentality. Let me explain.

After World War II, my grandfather was working full time in an office where he was guaranteed a pension plan in exchange for working for a fixed number of years at their company. Both the employer and the employee had mutual respect for each other, there were no favorites and other employees helped each other out. This increased productivity and contributed to raises for all employees. The interview process was smooth and simple, all you needed was a simple sheet explaining your background the employer asked if you could do the job and offered it to you on the spot. It was a partnership and both were on equal footing.

What’s happened over the last forty years is that employers have become increasingly entitled and selfish. Instead of viewing potential hires as working for the common good, the next generation of employers shifted their focus from what’s good for the business to what’s good for me. As profits became a new religion to them, employers viewed their workers more as a liability than an asset. An entitlement mentality. They began to offer less retirement benefits, phase out pension plans, and structured the interview process so it’s taboo to ask your employer about the starting salary. As inflation went up wages remained stagnant. In the process they molded the new person to become a soulless shell, incapable of independent thought. And now that it seems to have backfired, they’re doubling down instead of helping their community.

Let’s look at some of the issues that are contributing to entitlement mentality of large and medium businesses.

High Education for Less Salary

In today’s world it’s expected that you get an education after high school. Among most employers a Bachelor’s degree today is worth what a high school diploma was thirty years ago: nothing. While it’s accepted that employers acknowledge that they need skilled employees, they seem to give almost nothing for the high cost of education that it requires to attract those skilled workers. In order for employees to get the education they need they have limited choices: take out a FAFSA loan, sweet talk their parents, sell their belongings, bullshit themselves for a $5,000 grant and scholarship for a $20,000 a year college. Or beg and plead for a company to pay for their education which even today is rare. The other day I was reviewing a friend of mine’s job application for a position that required a master’s degree and the starting pay was $14 an hour, in Seattle. $14 an hour? You can’t survive on that in urban areas.

Credit Score

Employers are now increasingly turning towards judging you based on your credit score. Credit Scores are based on how often you pay back the money you owed to your credit card and your ability to fully pay it back. But there’s a major flaw with that logic. What if you have medical debt for a family member or $50,000 in student loans with only enough to pay back the interest rate? Is that discriminatory practice going to earn more or less workers for your business? What if that debt was incurred because their wife or son was in a car accident? Or you have cancer? Is it their fault for getting cancer?

Everyone has their own individual reasons for taking out loans, most of them use them to pay expenses for family and loved ones out of compassion and love. Are you telling me that your looking down on someone with integrity and employable skills because they simply chose to help a loved one over paying the interest on student loan payments? Are you really that callous and unsympathetic that you can’t relate to them? Do you even care about the well being of your own employees when they get sick or do you demand they work to infect other employees?

The responsibility of an employer is not only to make profits, but it’s to reinvest in their community starting with their workers. If you pay your workers a decent wage and invest in the business, they will not leave and you have higher employee satisfaction lowering turnover rates. By investing in your company and paying your employees above the minimum wage you will be fostering a work environment that is less stressful, encourages more cooperation, and shows that you respect your workers as much as your family.

Scripted Interview & No Call Backs

One of the most frustrating things about the job market is this expectation to act and behave a certain way during the interview process. Why on earth are we still relying on an out of date interview style adopted back in the 1960s? While I understand the reason behind an elevator pitch and am comfortable showing how my talents can apply to your business, I’m uncomfortable when I’m scripted and can’t express how passionate I am during your interview. I’m very direct and honest, I spent time and energy preparing for the interview, dressing nicely, and practicing with my friends for this. Just ask me directly about my resume and I’ll give you my honest opinion, I don’t try to BS anything and I’m not going to sound inauthentic like Pete Buttigieg either.

After the interview I have no idea how I did but I’m looking forward to your response. I send you a follow-up email thanking you for the interview and am excited to know if I’m in or not. You promised me you would call me within a week and…no phone call or an email. I reach out to you again, no response. I reach out again, nothing. So I finally have to contact HR and they finally give me an answer: I didn’t make it. Why do I have to follow up with you after I invested time and effort into putting myself out there for the interview? Do you do treat other potential hires as an afterthought? Why do you show so little respect for people eager to work for you by not telling them? Do you even care?

In the 1980’s businesses at least had the enough respect for the interviewee to call and tell them. The fact that you don’t shows how entitled you are and how little you care about new recruits.

No Weekend For You

The Weekend is your time to recharge your batteries, work on projects at home, and spend time with family or friends. After a long grueling forty hour day you get home and look forward to chilling with your family on the couch watching a show on Netflix. But those days of relaxing are becoming rare.

It’s not enough that you put in effort and have boosted the profits of your boss in a stressful work environment. Now he wants you to work on the two days of the week you were planning to spend quality time relaxing? If he’s asking for your opinion on a project that’s understandable, but if he’s expecting you to drop everything to go into the office for the weekend then he shouldn’t be in business. Part of what lowers turnover rates is making sure your employees have a healthy work-life balance, and that balance comes two days out of the week that you don’t work. The Weekend.

The majority of Americans said the weekend is the only time where they felt they could live their lives. An employer who commonly does that is very narcissistic and self centered. By not factoring in how it would feel if they were the one’s stressing out about weekend work, they are telling their worker’s they don’t respect their ability to relax or tend to the needs of their family. This creates resentment in the workplace, more stressed out workers, and encourages them to leave.

Gravity Payments & Other Business models to Follow

Dan Price is the CEO of Gravity Payments, a credit card processing and financial services company which employs 200 people. He was talking to an employee one day when he realized there was a major problem. Housing costs were soaring and they had to rely on food stamps to make it. Instead of callously dismissing their arguments, he thought about what he could do to make a difference in the lives of his employees.

In 2015 Dan Price announced he was dropping his salary from $1 million down to $70,000 and increasing the starting pay of all his employees to earn the same amount as him. The news made headlines around the country. While the industry average for employee retention was 68%, Gravity Payments surged to 91% and profits soared from $3.4 billion in 2014 to over $10 billion in 2018. Paying workers a decent wage and offering to cut your own salary is not only good for the employees but good for business.

Dick’s drive is another rare local business that offer generous scholarships if they work for them as soon as they start working at $19 an hour. That was something businesses used to do during the post-WWII era economy, entice workers by providing generous benefits. Dick’s drive in is a local Seattle area chain that employ skilled workers and sees the benefits of offering tuition assistance and higher wages. And their hamburgers cost only $1.80.

An ice cream shop in Pennsylvania couldn’t find employees so they increased their wage from state minimum to $15 an hour, and filled all their positions right away. This isn’t rocket science, it’s about treating employees and new hires with respect and economic security so they stay.

A person that really enjoys writing about food, culture, politics, justice, climate change, relationships, and other interesting topics.