Notebook: A New Perspective On Labor
Boris Zerwann

Notebook: A New Perspective On Labor

The "Great Resignation" may not have been so great, according to University of Michigan business forum.

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We've all heard about the "Great Resignation" of recent years, with large numbers of people giving up on their long-term careers and dropping out of the job market. And many in the snow and ice management industry have dealt with how this apparent trend was impacting their ability to fill staffing voids and hire key people into their organizations.

However, a recent panel of business faculty at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, claim this employment trend is misunderstood. Research data indicates large numbers of resignations in the last couple of years weren’t due to people giving up on long-term careers, but rather to entry-level workers finding better opportunities, according to Nirupama Rao, assistant professor of business economics and public policy at Michigan Ross.

And while "Great Resignation" has become a popular blanket term, it's a misnomer, Rao says. “This isn't a story of widespread quitting of jobs. It's much more a story of low-wage workers leaving jobs to move to better jobs … We hear a lot about white-collar burnout, but that's really not the driver of this pattern.”

In addition, general staffing issues impacting business closures and service reductions have been lumped together under the "Great Resignation" umbrella. COVID and its related exposure and illness issues played a much more significant role on employment issues, according to the panel.

“A labor shortage was really becoming a problem before the pandemic, so in a lot of ways, the situation we're in now is getting back to where we were before the pandemic,” stated Panelist Gabe Ehrlich, director of the Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics at U-M’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. “A big part of it is that the population in the United States is getting older; a lot of people are aging into retirement. That was starting to put a limit on job growth even before the pandemic.”

The panel concluded that ongoing employment issues are fundamentally operational problems involving how to staff more effectively and how to better attract replacements from the current labor pool.

Interestingly enough, this is an assessment many Snow Magazine editorial contributors have made over the last year or so when addressing the labor issue's impact on the professional snow and ice management industry. In fact, Snow Magazine contributor and Brilar COO Mike Voories recently authored the book Complain or Compete on the exact topic of more effective and efficient hiring practices. You can check Mike book out HERE if you're interested in learning more.

Mike Zawacki is editor of Snow Magazine.