We've all seen the 'Now Hiring" signs and there is a lot of talk about a national 'labor shortage,' but I have a theory... What if there is no shortage of people willing to work but rather a shortage of businesses willing to offer a culture worth working in?

There is no doubt that the pandemic put things like health and family into perspective. For many, the pandemic offered plenty of time for self-reflection and the opportunity to take a good look at how we prioritize the things that matter most in our lives. I think it is that shift in perspective that is causing the "labor shortage."

I think people are recognizing their worth. I learned a long time ago, that when you begin to recognize your own value and self-worth, you are far more likely to set healthy boundaries regarding how you spend your time and energy and what type of treatment you are willing to accept from others, including an employer. What if it isn't that there aren't enough people willing to work but rather, people have finally recognized their worth in the workforce? Why would someone want to work somewhere where they are not treated with respect and dignity (and that includes a fair and livable wage)?

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I have seen posts from businesses on social media claiming that they have had to close because they "can't find anyone willing to work" but I wonder if those business owners are taking a reflective look at how they run their businesses and what kind of culture they have created for their employees. I'll be 100% honest if faced with the choice between working for two different businesses - one that offered great pay but a toxic work environment and one that paid less but had a healthy culture where I felt respected and appreciated - I would pick the latter.

So let's talk about respect and appreciation for a minute. I saw a social media post from an Evansville area restaurant that caught my eye and make me think, "Wow! They GET it!" The restaurant? Commander's Grill in Boonville. The restaurant took to Facebook to share an upcoming closure, not because they don't have enough employees to work but because they do - and they value them.

They acknowledge in the post that the last year-plus, amid the pandemic has been tough, even acknowledging the difficulting in hiring staff for the restaurant. The Facebook post reads in part,

Well as is the norm for the last year and a half, we have a few glitches. The hiring situation was terrible for a bit until school got out. We now have some great servers and back of the house help that were in school. But they also had family plans for vacations. It is now.
We normally take the first week of June off every year because business crawls after school lets out. This year we are taking off next week from this Sunday until the 7th of July in order to let them have their vacations and for us to catch up on some maintenance here.

You may be wondering why I think this post is so special, so let me explain. By recognizing that their staff are more than just employees and by acknowledging that family vacations are an important part of a person's life, they are showing their employees that they are valued. No one is being denied time off with their family because someone else already asked off work. They are being allowed to take that time and to make those family memories. And I think it is wonderful! I looked back through some of their Facebook posts and they closed on Memorial Day and Father's Day too. And while that could certainly be because they didn't expect the restaurant to be busy, I would be willing to bet that it had more to do with allowing their employees to spent time with their families. It's this type of care and compassion towards employees that helps to create a positive work culture - the kind of environment where a person actually wants to work.

So, yeah. I don't think we really have a labor shortage at all. I think we have a shortage of positive work environments where employees feel valued and respected. Maybe instead of gaslighting the working class with talks of "labor shortages" and "people too lazy to work," it's time that businesses and employers step up their game.

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