The turmoil in the U.S. labor market continues. The Labor Department reported today that the U.S. economy added 467,000 jobs in January and sharply increased the estimate for payroll growth by nearly 1.2 million in November and December.
The latest figures signal that the economy is growing solidly in the face of the omicron wave of COVID-19 and staffing shortages. Job growth in January
would have been even stronger if not for the surge in omicron cases, which closed businesses again and prevented an estimated nearly 2 million workers from looking for a job.
At the same time however, the number of employees quitting their jobs remains near record levels. An estimated 4.3 million American workers left their jobs in December — down only slightly from November’s all-time high.
Meanwhile, employers reported some 10.9 million job openings in a survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, well above pre-pandemic averages. While some workers were no doubt job-hopping — cashing in on labor shortages in certain sectors such as tech and trucking, which have pushed up wages and salaries — the continued high number of people leaving their jobs suggest other factors are also in play.
“We will continue to see a lot of movement in the labor market as part of this ‘Great Reshuffle.’ People are feeling burned out and, in many cases, not valued by their current employer,” says Jill Popelka, SAP SuccessFactors President.
Employees, particularly parents, many of whom had to juggle multiple responsibilities as omicron case numbers surged at the end of 2021, are looking for new opportunities to expand their skills and to find a work environment that is more aligned to their personal purpose and values, Popelka says.
So how can companies compete? “They need to think differently about the experience they’re providing for employees and in most cases they need a new approach,” she says.
“Compensation matters. But what we’re hearing from employees is that growth and learning is even more critical. Organizations need to provide opportunities for employees to learn new skills, try out different projects and find a way to align their job with their unique talents and interests. When companies can figure out how to provide this type of individualized experience, that’s when they’ll be successful retaining and recruiting talent.”