Workforce shortages persist but have taken a new turn. Now, it’s office workers who are in short supply.
“Over the last few years, we’ve seen headline after headline focus on the dwindling supply of manual and trade services workers. But our most recent survey reveals that office and professional workers have become a scarcer commodity,” said Robin Erickson, vice president of Human Capital at The Conference Board.
Office workers are now significantly harder to both find and retain than just one year ago, U.S. human resource executives reported.
The Conference Board survey found that 84% of organizations hiring professional and office workers are struggling to find talent, an increase from 60% in April 2021. And the percentage of organizations striving to retain office workers more than doubled in the past year, from 28% to 64%.
The survey of more than 175 U.S. human resource executives is the fourth in the Reimagined Workplace series, which explores the long-term effects of the pandemic on both the workforce and workplace.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the job openings rate for professional and business services jumped to 8.8% in March compared to 7% one year earlier. The only industries with a higher rate in March 2022 were accommodation and food services (9.9%), leisure and hospitality (9.7%) and health care and social assistance (9%).
The Conference Board survey found there has been a sixfold increase in the hiring of fully remote workers. Half the organizations surveyed are willing to hire fully virtual employees, up from only 8% pre-pandemic. Another 38% still prefer to hire remote employees who can occasionally commute into the office.
“To remain competitive, companies should further leverage hybrid and fully remote work arrangements,” Erickson said.
Other insights from the survey include:
• Only 4% of organizations are requiring all workers to return full time, while 60% made working completely remotely optional.
• Fifty-seven percent of human resource leaders report they believe productivity has increased since the start of the pandemic.
• More than 3 in 4 respondents reported an increase in employees identified as being burned out, up from 42% in September 2020.
“Since the outbreak of the pandemic, employee well-being has declined and burnout is on the rise,” said Rebecca Ray, executive vice president of Human Capital at The Conference Board. “To retain workers, HR leaders will need a strong focus on improving the employee experience. That includes both allowing and encouraging employees to integrate their work and personal lives in a way that works best for them.”
According to new study commissioned by the enterprise automation software company UiPath, the majority of global office workers are feeling increased pressure at work due to colleagues resigning in the past year.
The survey shows 83% have had to take on up to six new tasks outside of their job descriptions due to their co-workers resigning, and 77% of Americans reported they do not know what their responsibilities are anymore.
As a result, 48% of respondents say they would consider resigning from their jobs in the next six months.
“Burnout at work is real, and it’s happening more now than ever,” writes Angela Copeland, a leadership and career expert. “For many people, the urge is to quit their current job.”
Copeland advises, “Take control of how you want to handle your burnout.”
If it’s time to find a new job but you are too stressed to look for one, consider using vacation time. “Take time off to apply for jobs and recharge. Focus on your search, so you can create a positive path out as quickly as possible.”
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