April 12, 2024

Although companies are opening back up due to lifts of some of the restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic, workers continue to be reluctant to return to work. This has created a worker shortage, leaving businesses working with ways to encourage their workers to return to work in-person. 

As an incentive to get more people to work, businesses have been promoting things such as bonuses or referral payments. Burger King has a $200 signing bonus offer while signing bonuses offered by
MacDonald’s have reached $1,000.

Tim Gramling, dean of the Robert K. Jabs School of Business, said there are several major factors for this labor

In the 2010s, companies were opening spaces up, taking down walls and barriers.

“This was thought to improve teamwork and a sense of togetherness,” Gramling said. “Now, companies are investing in construction to bring back the separation due to COVID health concerns. Plexiglass barriers are common now.”

These open spaces make workers reluctant to return to work due to the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

“Certain forces encourage this reluctance,” Gramling said. “The fear of safety is one, especially due to the pre-COVID common open workspace layouts. Another force is the extension of unemployment benefits.”

Some companies are spending more money to enable social distancing in the workplace, while some workers are still reluctant to go back and inflation is increasing.

Gramling said there is proof of this worker reluctance even at CBU.

“The senior staff have to pitch in by emptying trashes and cleaning tables to fill in for missing staff,” Gramling said.

Dakotah DeRoos, junior biochemistry major, got a night shift job at Walmart in June.

“Normal hourly wage for the night shift was $15.50, but I got offered $18.75 because they really needed workers,” DeRoos said. “Night-shift is the stocking shift, and we only had about 20 people on staff, with at least five calling out per night. People were constantly quitting, resulting in us having to stock twice as much. They also encouraged a 30-minute lunch break over the permitted 1 hour so that more work could get done.”

Sarah Mandzok, freshman pre-nursing student, worked as a server mid-pandemic. 

“There wasn’t enough staff,” Mandzok said. “The wait times were longer, the food came out slower, the customers would get impatient. It was like a cycle: customers would get upset at the slow service from the few who were still working, meaning they wouldn’t tip, meaning many wouldn’t want to work anymore because it almost wasn’t worth it.”

Job incentives encourage people to begin working again, in hopes of getting the economy back to where it was before the pandemic, such as cheaper prices for goods and services. 

These changes can be difficult and different for everyone in every way of life, but as we navigate our way through
this pandemic, it is important to remember to always be patient and kind. We are all doing the best we can do to recover from this on-going pandemic.

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