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Jobs data, worker sentiment, and filling the gaps – what’s next?

On Friday I forgot Monday was a holiday and that I had actually scheduled the day off… and as the US returns to a full work day today, there’s more discussion about what’s next.

Grant Thornton asked office workers in professional services jobs about the return.  56% are looking forward to returning, and 40% said they’d seek another job if forced to return full time.  Over two thirds said working from home has improved their work life balance, and 33% are actively job searching. 

It’s also hitting tech jobs too – they’re up 15% from six months ago, per analysis by the National Foundation for American Policy based on data from Emsi Job Posting Analytics.   Indeed told Axios that U.S. software development job postings in September were up 73% compared with February, while total U.S. job postings are up about 43%. LinkedIn says the number of U.S. job openings for the software and IT industry has grown 119% since the start of the pandemic.   Recruiting software company iCIMS told Axios job openings for tech occupations are up 69% since January.

Which may be why Amazon has announced they are letting employees work from home indefinitely and individual teams can set their own approaches – no one-size-fits-all anymore.    

Pew Research adds some color – Gen Z, or those born after 1997, are interested in the tech space.    Three in every 10 members of Gen Z say software developer is the role they are most interested in after graduating college

Overall, the September employment report shows only 194,000 jobs added – the hiring surge predicted for September did not come to pass.       The message – workers are looking for both safety and compensation.  

Why do we care?

There’s an interesting piece in the New Yorker I’m referencing that highlights how the confusion plays to executives – allowing them to reduce confusion of reopening plans, particularly without clear metrics to the end.

I’ll offer there is also an unwillingness to admit they can’t force employees, and its easier to leave things vague rather cede the argument completely.     We care because I’d make an argument here that for business leaders – particularly small business ones – there is an opportunity to differentiate.  

Designing a clear option that doesn’t look like the past can be a draw.   Diverse benefits – 4 day work weeks, or task only based metrics, or higher pay regardless of location  — can attract employees.  There’s also space for broadening the net – hiring those younger or less experienced and training them now rather than waiting.  There are humans out there looking for other options – good enough rather than perfect might be the answer.