Should employers rethink what they’re offering workers?

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, there’s a lot of confusing information about what it’s doing to the job market. Companies are still trying to figure out work-from-home policies, some industries are contracting, others are scrambling to fill positions, and everyone is talking about the Great Resignation.

Boss wearing a mask holding a hard hat talks with two employees wearing masks, hard hats, and safety vests.

Wharton School management professor Peter Cappelli examined the current work climate in a new report titled “Let’s Stop Guessing: Here’s What’s Truly Changing About Work.” Cappelli partnered with the employment website Indeed to analyze survey data that it collected on the attitudes and behaviors of American workers, and he found one thing to be clear: The pandemic has rewired worker preferences, so now is the time for employers to rethink what they are offering.

“The big thing that has changed is that we have a ton of jobs open all of a sudden. The reason for that is employers waited until the last minute to hire or waited until demand was already back,” Cappelli says. “We have this temporary imbalance of supply and demand here, and that is one of the things that’s causing employees to be maybe a little pickier than they might in another context. It’s also causing more turnover than it might in another context.”

Cappelli argues that the idea that workers are “quitting all over the place” just isn’t true. “The fact that we’ve had this work-from-home policy for about a third of the workers during the pandemic, makes a lot of people wonder, can we keep doing this? The employers aren’t saying. I think at the moment we seem to have a little bit of a logjam. Despite what you hear about the Great Resignation, the big story right now is there are not so many people looking for new jobs and willing to snap up some of these vacancies. I think the reason is they’re really waiting to see what employers are going to do.”

Read more at Knowledge@Wharton.