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Do American really hate their jobs?

With the new week comes some new data points about working.

Employers are changing the way they approach background checks.  Per reporting in Axios, some are switching to one-year reviews of backgrounds rather than a seven-year look to widen the pools of applicants.  And, there’s a new option – “continuous monitoring,” where they are checking court records regularly.   There’s been a 12% increase in this approach over the past year, per Appris Insights.     There’s a flaw here, too — Black Americans tend to be more harshly treated by police and the courts, so if employers are getting flagged when someone is arrested or charged, it could have a disproportionate effect on them.

In a survey of HR leaders, there are several possible pitfalls ahead for companies who aren’t adapting to the new reality.    41% cited the persistence of meeting culture as a top challenge, noting meetings were “too long, poorly timed and lacking focus,” squashing productivity as a result.   Two-thirds (67%) of survey respondents strongly agreed that allowing employees to choose which meetings they attended would improve productivity.  There’s an IT reliance here, too. More than 8 in 10 respondents (84%) said they were receiving more emails than ever, and there was a similar response when respondents were asked about their use of instant messaging (80%), video communication (83%), and file-sharing tools (77%).

The report highlights the need to keep these technologies under control – culturally, not technologically.

I also wanted to pull a couple of data points from a long piece in the Atlantic that dispels the myth that “Most Americans Hate their job.”   

It hits three narratives.  

  1. Americans don’t want to work anymore.
  2. Most Americans hate their job, and the pandemic made them really hate their job.
  3. The Great Resignation is a reflection of that job hatred. 

In the first, the author notes 4% unemployment and more than 80% of prime-age workers employed or looking for work.

On the second, the Conference Board reported that job satisfaction in the first year of the pandemic was the highest the organization had recorded since 1995. 

And the third points to research by Angus Reid Global, which points to worker opportunity as the real reason, not worker sentiment.    The short conclusion is that people are quitting because they see more job listings and switch to better jobs.  

Why do we care? 

This is all so very intertwined.

Let’s start with the Atlantic piece, as it clearly says what’s going on here.    The job market is tight because there are many opportunities.     The disruption to the “old ways” proves to be welcome – IE, higher job satisfaction. 

This leads to the conclusions to be made from the other two stories.   Successful employers will be the ones who examine their own cultures and organizations to ensure that satisfaction stays high… because workers have so much opportunity.   

Reevaluating the hiring criteria seems wise.   I’m less sold on continuous monitoring, particularly for SMB organizations and with the implications of race being problematic, but I am sold on changing gating criteria.