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Wall Street Journal So Sad: Nobody Wants To Not Work Anymore!
Poor bosses can just never catch a break!
In a move that may indicate it plans to begin publishing a supplement devoted to running nothing but parody, the Wall Street Journal this week ran a very important story titled “The New Headache for Bosses: Employees Aren’t Quitting,” conveniently republished at MSN so you can avoid the WSJ paywall. Lord knows you wouldn’t want a subscription fee going to this nonsense. The story is by a reporter named Chip Cutter, and we swear to Crom we initially thought that was the name of a tech feature like the New York Times’ Wirecutter section. As far as we know, Chip Cutter is not related, but we we are curious whether he has relatives named Bolt, Paper, Cookie, or Coast Guard. Or maybe a distant Australian criminal cousin, Toe.
The problem, we learn, is that after two years of complaining that No One Wants To Work (For Shit Wages) Anymore, as well as about the “Great Resignation,” job markets are starting to stabilize and attrition levels are starting to return to the pre-pandemic norm. That has bosses freaking the fuck out, according to the Journal at least:
Turnover has declined so steeply at some large employers that companies now find themselves over budget on certain teams, requiring leaders to weigh whether to postpone projects or to cut additional staff as the end of year approaches. Other bosses worry about how to keep star employees engaged when there are far fewer vacant positions internally, making it harder to move people into new roles.
Well gosh, a strong economy and people wanting to stay at their jobs is just terrible! Why are workers so selfish? Or maybe this too is Joe Biden’s fault?
The story offers an expert to suggest that’s probably it, what with an inevitable recession on the way, even if that’s not likely in the short term.
“The attrition level is going down, that’s for sure,” said Denis Machuel, chief executive of global staffing firm Adecco Group, which works with large employers. “People feel it’s probably a bit cold outside with the macroeconomics not being so good. And with this last-in, first-out typical scheme, they’re more likely to stay in their current role.”
So it’s mostly a matter of people are staying at their jobs because if they leave, Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel might serenade them in the company locker room.
The story does at least have the common courtesy to recognize it runs entirely counter to the corporate whining of much of the post-pandemic era, noting that this might seem like “a welcome development for bosses who spent years bemoaning high levels of job-hopping and rapidly rising salaries.” But now people are staying put, and that’s a whole new challenge, egads!
Consider the plight of Wells Fargo, which is stuck with so many white collar drones that it’s having to shell out a lot more than expected in severance pay just to “reduce its head count.” Chief Financial Officer Mike Santomassino advised investors in October that the bank still needs to get rid of more people, resulting in likely higher severance costs continuing into next year. Seems you can’t just reduce those costs by throwing workers off a bridge, as in the old days.
And then there’s shipping/mailing company Pitney Bowes, which experienced this crisis or minor challenge, but was somehow able to overcome it. The company
had a few instances in which it hired an intern, expecting a vacancy to open in the company, only for the existing employee to remain in the position. The Stamford, Conn., company found other spots for the interns, and has generally managed the lower turnover rate, said Andrew Gold, chief human resources officer at the company
My god, the carnage. At “ServiceNow,” a software company whose products help companies plan for hiring needs, senior VP of global talent Sarah Tilley noted that voluntary turnover is way down, but she didn’t seem to consider it a crisis at all:
She didn’t cite specific figures, but attrition among top-performing employees in 2023 is less than half of what it was in 2022.
“Attrition, it took a nosedive,” Tilley said, adding that the roughly 22,000-employee Santa Clara, Calif., company’s culture also likely contributed to more workers wanting to stay. “We see it as a very positive thing.”
One might almost get the impression that at least some businesses would rather have this problem than not being able to scrape up enough qualified people to run their business.
Job Chip Cutter reminds us that employers do hold some power, and please don’t forget it, peasants:
If bosses want to get rid of employees, they can generally fire them, but layoffs can harm morale. In periods of low turnover, veteran HR leaders say they typically follow a different playbook before resorting to broader job cuts. When too few employees leave, companies will often get tougher in performance appraisals, pushing employees to quit. Cash can be another alternative. During periods of low attrition, companies tend to offer incentives, such as buyouts, to motivate employees to leave. [Emphasis fucking added — Dok]
Performance appraisals, as we all know, are objective assessments of employee performance, except when management needs them not to be. And if that isn’t a reminder that corporate capitalism has emerged from the chaos of the pandemic and is getting back to its terrible rapacious normal, we don’t know what is.
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