why aren’t the companies “desperate” for workers doing the one thing that would attract them?

If you believe reports from employers, they’re desperate to find good employees but can’t lure them at any price. Dig deeper, though, and it turns out that many companies are still operating on a model of underpaying and overworking at a time when workers have much better options.

At Slate today, I wrote about employers that are still operating like they did a decade ago, without considering how they might need to change—to raise salaries, increase benefits, and generally make themselves a more attractive place to work. You can read it here.

{ 535 comments… read them below }

  1. Important Moi*

    I applying to positions where I meet half of the requirements (sometimes with great trepidation sometimes not).

    Companies are free to want unicorns. I am free to apply. (Sometimes folks to complain the unqualified have the temerity to apply.)

    1. Important Moi*

      Typos. ARGGH!!!

      I am applying to positions where I meet half of the requirements (sometimes with great trepidation sometimes not).

      Companies are free to want unicorns. I am free to apply. (Sometimes folks complain that the unqualified have the temerity to apply.)

    2. Meep*

      I work in a field where some companies are too big for their breeches. When I graduated with my B.S. in 2018, there was a grand total of 36 undergrads and 14 grad students graduating that year. A company came to our job fair with 60 open positions. Why they thought they would attract 60 PhDs with 12 years of experience at a job fair geared towards students, I will never know. They had to pay $10,000 to even be there in the first place. But they tried it! They walked away with 0 new hires.

    3. On the Market*

      SO MANY unicorn positions in my field right now. Companies wanting PhD-level expertise in, for example, qualitative *and* quantitative research, policy and advocacy, volunteer management, subject matter expertise, and executive leadership skills in a senior-level position that pays $65k with no remote options. LOLOLOL

      1. Joan Summers*

        The volunteer management piece specifically drives me nuts as someone who actually has some volunteer management experience – it’s not my primary focus but very closely related to what I do. In my field, so many of the volunteer managers were laid off or furloughed after the pandemic started (among many other people deemed nonessential). So this smacks of companies trying to still get the work done without having to hire a person with the professional expertise and skills to do it. It’s that “it’s not REAL work, anybody can do it” mentality that devalues the profession overall. And, TBH also likely leads to crummy volunteer management.

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          I’m actively avoiding applying for positions that include volunteer management, because volunteer management is HARD. It’s been a component of some of my previous jobs and I know how time and energy consuming it is, so people who choose to do it for their entire career have all my respect and admiration.

          1. NoNotNan*

            My husband’s side gig is volunteer management related and his primary gig covers it in waves as projects progress… but in applying for jobs that require people management, employers have shrugged off his 6+ years of volunteer stuff and wanted to focus on his experience from 12 years ago where he ran a department of 6. Its wild how people ignore the ability to motivate unpaid volunteers as a whole skill set business that likely underpay their employees probably could use!

          2. FridayFriyay*

            Yes! It completely ignores that meaningful volunteer engagement requires specialized expertise and TIME. It can’t be part of one person’s job split with 6 other areas of responsibility and be done well.

          3. CoveredinBees*

            Same. I did grantwriting and management and companies kept wanting to hire someone to do that plus volunteer management. These were not volunteers the org had to use because they worked for one of the funders. Just normal volunteers. It is so outside of my wheelhouse that I probably might have unintentionally harmed their volunteer programs.

        2. Chirpy*

          Ugh, I used to have a job where volunteer management fell on me if the person who was actually supposed to do it wasn’t around. It absolutely made me unable to do my actual job. And it was used against me when they decided they didn’t “need” my job anymore (they needed my job so much they called begging the next week, it was literally essential to their entire mission)

      2. sofar*

        It’s becoming increasingly clear that long-time many-hat-wearers are leaving their companies. And now companies are having to find the unicorns, like the one they created by piling on more and more responsibility onto a single person over the years. Now, when that person leaves, they’ve got the equivalent of 3 empty roles, but they’ve grown accustomed to having just one person filling all those roles.

        1. L'étrangere*

          So true. And they’ve usually underpaid that person with the 3 major roles, so they’re bleating in pain when faced with the fact that replacing that one long-suffering person will cost them 6 times more. Thoughts and prayers

          1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

            Yes to all of this. And so many organizations don’t know or care the amount of stress and chaos that causes for the staff who are just continually expected to pick up whatever gets thrown at them.

            1. Life Lesson Learned*

              Y’all have nailed it. I just stepped out of a role that I had for five years – I was the person who got all the odds and ends tossed at me. It was a chaotic, ill-define role (not senior) that expected me to lead (without support or management oversight) many global product/program initiatives. My previous company is now trying to fill a tech program management role that has many errant admin duties included. It’s 2-3 jobs in one. When I read the posting for my previous job description, it’s clear that they don’t want to pay for the tech parts of the job. Side note – I doubled my salary plus got exceptional benefits for the skills I learned/used at old job. So, not mad at old job, but oh so glad to get out.

          2. NotRealAnonForThis*

            Not even going to spare the “thoughts and prayers” platitude as a former “Hat Rack” (as in, “spin the hat rack for what I’m doing today as that’s how many facets my position has”)

        2. RVA Cat*

          This, and/or the unicorn ads are just so they can say no domestic unicorns exist to they have to import unicorns through work visas….

          1. N.J.*

            Yeah…your sentiment is gross and anti-immigrant. In my limited experience, companies want someone who can do the job. Their unrealistic expectations for a position aren’t typically a ruse to then hire someone from outside of their country. There are very real costs to a company sponsoring an employment visa and this already limits how far some companies are willing to go to hire an immigrant. Why don’t you share an opinion that’s not a conspiracy theory? Alison-should a comment like this even be left on the site?

            1. TIRED*

              Sorry, agree to disagree with your comment N.J. As RVA Cat said, this does happen. Not every company does this but certainly some do. I’ve witnessed first-hand, although I wasn’t competing with the unicorn hires. So I don’t believe this sentiment is anti-immigrant. The companies that do this are overjoyed to get workers who need to be sponsored for their visa, because they can lord it over them and exploit them. So while we can be angry at the companies seeking out mythical unicorns, we can also be angry at them exploiting the visa-workers. The focus isn’t anger at the visa-workers, but at the company.

              1. Never Boring*

                In my experience as someone with 20+ years of experience preparing work visa petitions for a living, most people in the U.S. on work visas are quite sophisticated about their marketability as well as their legal ability to jump ship to a new employer, and they do it frequently if they are not treated well.

              2. N.J.*

                I allowed in my comment that some companies probably do this. But while your comment references at least your anecdotal experience and posits a reason (which I don’t agree with, but at least you are explaining your reasoning) and a concern about exploitation, RVA Cat’s comment jumps straight to saying companies list unicorn positions to game the immigration system. This positions the immigrant worker as either a threat or a pawn, and I think RVA Cat is expressing their own disapproval, not something grounded in concern or fact. Especially since there isn’t any data, reporting, trends analysis etc. pointing to companies positioning to hire immigrant labor vs domestic labor in any meaningful way.

                1. Avril Ludgateau*

                  There are actually a LOT of companies that do this, in some industries more than others. It’s probably most common in tech. It is why we (i.e. American businesses, collectively) hit the H1b visa limit in, like, the first quarter of the program year. The problem is absolutely not the fault of the immigrant workers, who can be grossly exploited by this system (usually dramatically underpaid for industry standard) and ignorant of the fact. I did not interpret RVA Cat to be pointing the finger at immigrants or labor at all.

                  Anecdote: I was shocked when, in my first foray into post-graduation full-time work, I immediately experienced visa abuse. I worked for a domestic company that had business interests overseas. For “language reasons” – even though the languages in question have *huge* populations in this metro area – 25% of staff were on visas. The company frequently held the visas over these employees’ heads, which frightened them into accepting appallingly low wages (i.e. not survivable in this area) and working unreasonably long hours (12 hours+/day, every day, because of “time differences”). One day I saw a posting in the break room for an application for a visa for a technical specialist role (publicly posted, as is required, so at least that far, they were above board). I saw the individual would be paid about twice what I was being paid… In the same role. I knew I was underpaid, but I was a 21-year-old fresh graduate with no capital. I took that post and went to the President to basically be, like, “what gives? Pay me!” with the intention to advocate for myself to get a better wage. Instead, the President hand-waved my concerns away and explicitly said “no no we only listed that wage because we are required to list the market standard for that role on the application. When she arrives, she will be getting less than half that.” (This is not only unethical, it is explicitly illegal and fraudulent.) He sincerely thought I would be relieved to hear she would not out-earn me. Even at 21, I was not that much of a crab; I wanted both of us paid fairly, and my concern was that I was not, not that she would be. And his response was, instead, “no you will both be underpaid, and she even more so” not realizing he was admitting to visa fraud.

                  I quit soon after, on the spot after another ethical violation, without another job lined up. Life was hard for a while, and still, my only regret is that I did not report that incident, but I didn’t know who to report it to, anyway. I don’t know what happened with that young woman. I only heard through a former coworker friend that the company had something like 90% employee turnover in the 9 months after I left. This was years and years ago, so I have no idea how they held up during the pandemic. I could 1000% see them exploiting PPP loans, too.

                  Of course, this is simply a relevant story I wanted to share. This is certainly NOT always the case with H1b visas (nor similar – academic, artist, etc.). Nobody is saying that. But the system as it currently is has little oversight once the visa is approved and in-hand, and it is overall a system that is rife for exploitation. This isn’t about “dey terk our jerbs!”, it’s about labor exploitation.

            2. Wintermute*

              It’s a proven fact. Companies will ask for the impossible: 10 years experience with Outlook 2016, experience with nonexistent version number software, etc. I’ve seen it, Everyone in tech has seen this, it’s a well-attested and well-proven fact.

            3. NervousNellie*

              Eeeeh, when I was in California, this is exactly what was going on, though. There were a rising tide of lawsuits, even, lodged against nearly every tech business. It horrified me not because I’m anti-immigrant, but because I’m anti-abuse, and I do really feel that the pay they offered those people, and the way they treated them was inhumane and a violation of human rights. Their rights were what the company granted, and they had no bargaining power at all because they company could just cancel their visa at any time. It was horrifying.

          2. Kate 2*

            Agreed. My newspaper published an article about how no one in our country wanted seasonal part-time gigs with minimum wages and no benefits (shocker!) and so the companies in this industry get visas by thousands and hire immigrants from nearby very low income countries instead.

        3. Gotcha*

          This was me. I left after 10 years and accumulating many roles. They are having problems filling my role after 5 months. You can’t want someone to be both in the office managing a department and expect nearly 50% (weekend!) travel.

        4. Some Dude*

          I’ve also seen it where they need someone to do X and someone to do Y, and they don’t want to pay for two roles, so they try to get a two-fer even though X and Y aren’t related skill sets.

          Sometimes I think companies treat job postings like some people treat online dating apps – may as well shoot for the moon and put exactly what you want and see what happens.

          1. bamcheeks*

            My manager has just left the organisation after ten years of accumulating Too Many Things To Do (and to be honest, not doing all of them well!) and a couple of people have asked me whether I would think of stepping up to it. I am looking at the role and thinking, well, maybe, but only if you take out that — and that– and I can delegate that– and I am NOT touching that with a barge pole. The 60% that’s left, I’ll do that very happily!

    4. Green Beans*

      My current job had a PhD either required or nice to have in their job as; I decided it was a dumb requirement and applied without mentioning it. I got the job and it never came up during the process. (I have a master’s in my field exactly instead of a PhD in an adjacent field. My boss mentioned later that they typically had hired PhDs and done a lot of training to transition – my degree is still fairly rare in the USA.)

    5. Smithy*

      I recently applied/interviewed with a unicorn position – that to be fair is offering a unicorn salary.

      If I make it any further, I’ll be stunned – and at least they’re compensating for that niche desire. But there was a part of me that during the interview wanted to say…..how many people exactly like this do you think exist, like at all? The recruiter didn’t complain that I applied, but I could tell she had clearly been told by hiring manager she was looking for someone with everything.

      I’m sure that unicorn salary meant a LOT of applications, but my goodness, that jd was not going to be easy to find a perfect match for.

      1. Anonymous4*

        It’s so easy to pile an assortment of requirements onto someone, one at a time, over years, and when that person leaves, yeah, good luck finding someone who can take that whole big bundle of requirements apart and do them all.

        My organization is going to have one heck of a bad time trying to replace me for that same reason. And it’s not like I haven’t warned them — I have dinned warnings into their ears until I have come to gag on it. And it’s very danged few people who can walk into the job and feel comfortable with it; there’s a LOT of training involved, and it’s not quick and it’s not easy.

        But that is going to be their problem, not mine. I’ve done my best to alert them. I can’t force them to make good decisions.

        1. LinuxSystemsGuy*

          This is *really* common in IT at startups. They have one person that did everything from help desk support, to server support, to networking, to cloud stuff. She just grew up with the role and every time a new thing got added, it went into her portfolio of things. Suddenly she’s left (probably because she was working 60 hours a week, and being paid like a help desk tech), and they never realized that she was doing four different specialized jobs, three of which are considered high skill and command six figure salaries.

          1. RVA Cat*

            This process makes me think of that montage from Conan the Barbarian where he starts as a kid turning that mill with a dozen others until he’s Arnold doing it all by himself.

        2. Smithy*

          In this case its a new role, and I think it’s clear they’re hoping someone can walk in with zero onboarding and start contributing that day.

          While they’re at least paying for it, if I happened to be someone who actually had that skill set, I’d still be concerned that I would largely be working in a vacuum and perhaps under unreasonable expectations.

          1. Rosalind Franklin*

            And then, because they want someone to walk in and be able to start contributing, they ignore the somewhat there candidates that would need training. And so, they spend 6 months trying to hire a role without training so they can skip onboarding, instead of hiring for related experience and spending 6 months training (and getting work done in the meantime).

            I’m going crazy because there’s a role my team keeps applying for, that’s been open for at least 4 months, and continues to be open, because they don’t want to train. If they’d picked a decent person and started training 4 months ago, they’d be done by now and have an eager contributor.

            1. Smithy*

              Sigh. Absolutely 100000% this.

              I know this is an issue that show’s its face in different ways across different industries – but essentially where the only way to really get paid more is to move into management. So management positions are pushed for/sought out based almost entirely on individual contributor capabilities. Even at VP levels, there will be a reference to their individual contributor achievements as opposed to their management achievements.

              So there’s also a huge part of me that believes that part of this unicorn hunting is because the people who have to manage the unicorn(s) don’t really know how to engage in more sophisticated onboarding/training.

            2. Canadian Public Servant*

              My boss LOOOOOOVES this approach: “And so, they spend 6 months trying to hire a role without training so they can skip onboarding, instead of hiring for related experience and spending 6 months training (and getting work done in the meantime).” Except by six months, I mean the position sat vacant for over a year. Oh, and the person coming in does not have the “essential” experience that they insisted on last year, which is fine because the job doesn’t actually do that – he just WANTS that to become part of the job in the future.

        3. PT*

          I had a boss where this happened. My boss was doing her Department Director job, one that would normally have a Department Coordinator under her, alone. Plus she had picked up 5-6 other random duties as assigned. She asked for a raise and she asked for a full-time coordinator and she was told no so she retired.

          When they rehired, they hired someone to do JUST the Department Director job. The 5-6 random duties were divided up among the other department directors, they gave the New Department Director a second full-time employee, and they started him at 5K more than she’d been making.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I applied to a unicorn workplace but they were not paying a unicorn salary (it was in academia, so not surprising). I did not get any further than a phone screen—I was shocked they even did that, to be honest. (I mean, if I applied to this place as a student, there’s no way in hell I’d get in, lol. I still would have made it work if they wanted me; it would have looked amazing on my resume, but professional adults should not have to live like broke college kids.)

        I think if companies want unicorns, they could hire for skills and potential and MAKE one. You simply cannot expect a new hire to have all that; it comes from being in the culture for a while and learning the ins and outs of the job and the workplace. Let’s imagine I got the job. I would still have to learn the work, the system, who does what, and who to go to when I need something. That isn’t something an outsider will have no matter how good their skills or degrees are.

        1. Fran Fine*

          I think if companies want unicorns, they could hire for skills and potential and MAKE one. You simply cannot expect a new hire to have all that; it comes from being in the culture for a while and learning the ins and outs of the job and the workplace. Let’s imagine I got the job. I would still have to learn the work, the system, who does what, and who to go to when I need something.

          Formal training programs really need to make a comeback in the workplace, but many employers are typically too lazy to invest in these things. But when they do, the results are amazing. I went through an 8 month claims trainee program in my past life, and I became known throughout the company as a star adjuster – I knew nothing about claims or insurance before I started.

    6. Anon for this*

      My workplace in higher ed has one of those type of positions up at the moment. Because it’s higher ed, the entire hiring process is more complicated than it needs to be. The position is intended to replace a unit level management position that has been vacant for over 2 years now, since before the start of the pandemic. The job description is somewhat confusing as it has the majority of the previous person’s job plus other duties. For those of us internally, how it’s written really shows the biases of the hiring manager at work. It really needs to be split up into two positions, with one person managing each area. Also, the likely final salary is probably not going to be enough to get a good applicant and the position is explicity described as an onsite position. If an external applicant gets hired, there’s no reason after an appropriate amount of time that it couldn’t be a hybrid position. Between those two factors, pay and lack of flexibility for remote work, and the word salad that is the job posting, it’s no wonder that the deadline for applying has been extended.

      It’s telling that there seem to be no internal applicants, especially when there are mulitple people splitting the job right now. The entire search process wasn’t done well from the start. My gut instinct when the search committee was announced was that it was going to be a failed search.

      1. Rachel in NYC*

        yeah, I’m higher ed and I’ve been really impressed how easily my office has seemed to hire people this year. It’s academia administration so the pay is the pay. (i.e. it doesn’t equal the cost of living in NYC)

        But we’re WFH 4 days a week right now- with plans that WFH will be permanent in some way or another. (it turns out that everyone hates commuting.)

    7. Private_Eye*

      Please do! My company is hiring and my manager asked me to look over the job spec. It was asking for things that almost no one has. And also some things that only someone with a LOT of spare time would be able to do (like be familiar with industry books/certs that are really still quite rare).

      I pointed out how this would put people off and she changed it a tiny bit. But now with the applicants she has no choice but to interview people who only have some of the requirements as no one can meet the ridiculous requirements anyway.

    8. iglwif*

      When a friend of mine was looking for jobs recently–she had retrained to switch careers–we invented a straight white guy named Chaz. Every time she was considering applying for a job but wasn’t sure she met the requirements, I’d ask her, “Would Chaz apply for this job?”

      (She got a job, and she’s doing great at it.)

    9. Alex*

      My employer basically bullied away two key IT employees last spring, and is trying to fill their positions since then. Turns out, those “easily replaceable” people had a specific skillset that you would now need to hire 6 people to cover everything, but they’re not willing to even pay for three. So the positions are simply unfulfilled, and their tasks just…don’t get done. I see the whole house of cards collapsing sometime this summer…

      1. just a random teacher*

        I work at a school, and we haven’t had a regular custodian since August. We’ve posted the job multiple times, but no one is willing to work as a custodian at a school for pre-pandemic pay during a pandemic. We’ve lost multiple candidates after offering them the job, presumably because anyone who is willing to clean buildings right now can get hired faster and for more money outside of the school system.

        Also, no one wants to work part time in a school cafeteria just during lunchtime every day, and no one wants to work as a special education aide almost-but-not-quite full time for extremely little money. We couldn’t get enough people who wanted to drive a school bus before the pandemic, and that has definitely not improved. Why would they, when the local public transit system pays better, offers the possibility of actual full time work, and doesn’t expect you to supervise and be held responsible for a bunch of children while driving?

        They are so far refusing to raise pay for any of these positions, citing the union contract, or change the positions to full time since “we only need them during those specific times”. The union has pointed out that they are quite willing to open contract re-negotiations on the subject of an across-the-board pay raise for such position classifications, but the district cites the contract anyway as though it’s written in stone.

        1. Wendy*

          My kids are doing virtual school this week (and possibly beyond) because the district can’t find enough subs to cover all the teachers who are out quarantining and/or sick. Every letter home from the school includes a blurb about how the district is hiring custodians, lunch workers, subs, bus drivers, etc… but they’re still paying minimum wage. Why would anyone take a high-COVID-risk job with lousy hours when McDonalds is paying nearly double and giving you as many hours as you want?

          1. MissBaudelaire*

            I thought about this, too. I was briefly considering being a para-pro so I could be on the same schedule as the kids.

            But with significantly less pay. And pretty crappy benefits. It’s sort of like the benefit they’re pushing is being on the same schedule as your kids. For some people, I’m sure that’s enough, I’m sure that’s why they’re in that field.

            I could also go work lunch shift at McDonald’s for more.

    10. Some Dude*

      I got hired for a unicorn position, and I’ve come to have grace with myself that I can be really good at several areas of my role, but I can’t be really good at all of them because several are careers unto themselves. I mean, i do what I can but I am aware I’m an amateur in certain areas.

      1. MissBaudelaire*

        When I took my new position, I kind of felt that way. I could be really great at a few things, or mediocre at most things. My company decided they valued me being mediocre at most things. Well, that’s their choice, I suppose

    11. Once a Unicorn*

      Thirty-five years ago, I applied for a unicorn psoition and I was the unicorn they wanted..i knew it, they said repeatedly that they knew it, nailed the 8 hour intervirw. Was offered the job. Accepted it. Then 2 weeks later, offer was rescinded. Apparently the AD — whose opinion trumped the Director — felt i was “too young looking.” Director told me they were reopening the search and encouraged me to reapply. Oh hell, no. Contacted me several times to get me to reapply. Nope. They ended up hiring someone with half my qualifications who lasted one year. Unicorn hunting ia not new.

  2. Office Sweater Lady*

    Recently read an article about the nursing crisis in this regard where the hospital paid experienced nurses under $20/hour and hospital assistants $10/hour. They were desperate for staff and kept having to pay short term travel nurses at 3 to 5x the rate of the locals, which resulted (surprise!) in all their long time staff switching to travel contracts, continuing to live at home, and working for their competitors less than 1 hour away. It seems obvious on its face: pay more if you want to keep your staff!

    1. Clefairy*

      I feel like they’re digging in their heels because they think eventually it will stop being an issue, and they don’t want to be locked into paying their permanent staff higher wages. I wonder if they’ll feel the same way in 6 months when it’s still a huge issue and they are still bleeding money paying these travelling nurses.

      1. EPLawyer*

        It’s not like the nursing shortage is something new. Even pre-Covid nurses were getting signing bonuses. So yes, hospital go on believing that underpaying will work out in the long run.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          This is why insurance companies & healthcare adjacent employers are so successful at hiring nurses. A nice desk job with work-life balance, reasonable hours, & less physically strenuous work appeals after a while.

        2. Anonymous4*

          Nursing staff have been short-paid for decades. I remember in the ’80s and ’90s, nurses were bitterly complaining — and I believe there were some strikes — about being so terribly underpaid for their knowledge, labor, and skill.

          And I remember almost blowing a blood vessel when the hospital’s official response to a nursing supervisor’s impassioned indictment of that particular hospital’s network for paying their nurses chickenfeed, was to shrug off the self-admitted fact that nurses have always been underpaid and piously intone that REAL nurses get THEIR satisfaction from helping people in neeeeed.

          1. Turtlewings*

            Because as everyone knows, landlords and grocery stores are happy to take job satisfaction in lieu of money.

            1. Speaks to Dragonflies*

              I would love to read Alison’s take on the whole Thedacare/Ascension situation. Holy crap, such bullshit…

              1. short'n'stout (she/her)*

                She tweeted about it – I’ll put the link in a reply in case it gets delayed in moderation, but it was pretty recent, so it shouldn’t be hard to find.

                I’d be interested in a more substantial analysis as well, but I suspect there’s not much scope in the issue for more nuance than you can fit in a tweet :D

            2. Hippo-nony-potomus*

              If it makes you feel better, the judge is allowing them to start work at Ascension: https://www.postcrescent.com/story/news/2022/01/24/thedacare-ascension-court-over-health-care-worker-employment/6635683001/

              From my read, the whole thing is about whether or not Ascension could hire them, not whether they could be forced to remain at ThedaCare, i.e. the employees could quit anyway. Meaningfully, they said they weren’t going back to ThedaCare even if not allowed to work at Ascension, so the judge ruled that they could go to Ascension rather than leave the entire area without care.

            3. Kit*

              Yours, mine, Alison’s… I’m somewhere between Madeline Kahn’s “flames on the side of my face” gif and wishing I could explode people with my mind, personally. It’s just outrageous.

            4. Anonymous Commentator*

              This particular judge has a history of making illogical rulings.

              Aren’t these at-will workers in an at-will state?!

              1. Lynn*

                Yes, they are in an at-will state and are at-will workers.

                I am glad that the judge lifted the ruling so that the workers could go to their new jobs-better late than never, I suppose. I am not even close to being a lawyer (or judge), but as a layperson I just don’t see how the argument ever made it past the “laughing it out of court” stage.

          2. This is a name, I guess*

            I think it’s really important to distinguish between nurses and lower-level hospital staff, because we always talk about how low paid nurses are, but we rarely talk about support staff who are making actually unlivable wages. CNA, PCAs, HHAs, and hospital aides all make poverty-level wages. Most nurses make fair wages for the level of education they have. This is not universal, but nurses make living wages in many many jobs and have the ability to change jobs to find better compensation. Lower-skilled staff are systematically underpaid and have few options for better paid work with their skills/credentials). As a credentialed profession, nursing has quite a few protections built in and can be regulated to some extent. This doesn’t exist for lower-paid professions.

            However, where nurses are getting shafted is in quality of life and work conditions. Hospitals – just like Starbucks – purposefully understaff nurses to keep costs low and profits high. This means they staff based on the minimum ratios for the day. So, if your ICU has 12 patients but enough beds for 24, they will staff enough for 12 patients. If there’s an influx of patients, then everyone scrambles to keep up. They don’t have enough staff for adequate vacations. They don’t have enough staff for normal scheduling.

            My cousin works in an ICU, and they are so purposefully understaffed that she earns OODLES of PTO, but then is only allowed to take 1 week off from May through September in order to “accommodate everyone’s vacations.” And they are use-it-or-lose-it, so essentially it’s phantom PTO. She makes decent money, but her quality of life seems pretty terrible.

            I bring this up for 2 reasons:
            1) Nurses have very good PR, I think. This is a good thing. So there’s definitely a fairly widespread awareness of nurses having bad working conditions and being valuable members of our communities, even before Covid. On the other hand, no one even sees or knows about the low-paid support staff and their plight.

            2) Compensation =/= working conditions. There are lots of industries that have terrible working conditions and decent-to-good pay, and these jobs run the gamut in terms of skills, education, demographics: management consulting, investment banking, academia, high-skill construction, nursing, working on oil field, tech startups. Paying people more in these fields doesn’t make their lives much easier (remember the letter from the person in i-banking??). What would make these fields better is better working conditions. Instead, these fields use decent pay to justify their horrible work culture. That’s not how it should work. And, that’s exactly what hospitals are doing with travel nurses: we’ll pay you a buttload of money if you endure horrible conditions and an uncertain employment future for 3 months.

            1. Cats on a Bench*

              There’s a really good NYT Opinion video on YT about this. It’s called Hospital Greed is Destroying our Nurses. The video only addresses the nurse aspect though, not the underpaid support staff.

            2. Burger Bob*

              “Compensation =/= working conditions.” Yep. I’m in retail pharmacy. Pharmacists are, generally speaking, paid well (arguably less than we should be, but still quite well). But pharmacists have been burning out of retail pharmacy for years because the working conditions are exhausting. We don’t need more pay. We need better staffing and appropriate breaks so we can go to work and not feel like we’re losing our minds every day.

          3. PeanutButter*

            Oh, I got “You should be less money-oriented and more patient-oriented” when I told the ER manager I wanted incentive pay + bonus to come in for my 7th 12-hour graveyard shift in a row. This was in 2018.

        3. Cassie*

          I just finished reading a true crime book about an RN back in the 90s and early aughts who was killing patients (spiking their IV bags w/ insulin, other drugs, etc) – horrific stuff. He worked at like 10 different places within 15 years and though he was asked to leave or was terminated from some of the places, he just simply moved on to the next medical facility down the street. I think he was making at least $25 an hour even back in those days. Surprised to hear that experienced nurses may just be making $20 an hour these days!

          (If someone ever wanted an example of poor management, the hospitals that this guy worked at are a prime example! )

      2. Mm*

        That does seem to be it. But even then, why not pay a hazard bonus to existing staff. Some hospitals are doing this – a bonus in 3 mo, 6 mo, 9mo if you stay.

        1. mlem*

          Because nurses have figured out those bonuses are a sucker’s game. Take one sick day, get transferred to a different unit without any input on your part, be unable to get to work due to a weather disaster, etc., etc., and you’re suddenly “ineligible”.

      3. Mid*

        It’s a game of chicken really. Who will hold out longer–employers or employees? Honestly, I hope people vote with their wallets and support businesses that aren’t complaining about being short-staffed, because they’re paying people well and treating them right. I don’t want to see businesses fail, but we’ve been seeing price hikes for years now, with stagnant wages. Hospital bills keep going up, but nurse pay is the same. Where is that extra money going?

        Much like the labor adjustment that we see when an industry automates, it’s time for things to change in structure. The medical system has seen a ton of bloat from middle people. (Administration is needed! But it’s also exploded to the point where it seems excessive, and seems to only increase the cost of service without increasing the quality of service.) Industries are going to have to find ways to streamline their services, probably getting rid of some middle management, and increase worker pay. Or they’ll keep ending up short staffed and with high turnover until they fail.

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          I think they also need to see about cutting the remuneration of the people at the top. Far too much money goes to them.

          1. Sled dog mama*

            I agree. I recently looked at my local non-profit hospital’s 990. Average nurses salary here is about 10% below the national average. The CEO makes 10x that (that’s purely in cash compensation) we could totally afford to pay nurses more

        2. Green Beans*

          I think a lot of admin bloat is due to lack of investment in infrastructure. At my old job, HR had three people and was completely overwhelmed (for a workforce of just over 300, with us being a department in a larger system that provided all the HR structure.)

          Which should have been reasonable staffing, except all the in-house systems they used had been cobbled together when it was one HR person for less than 100 people and most of the HR work could be done in under 40 hours a week even if it was done super inefficiently. They never changed any of the systems (including stuff as basic as getting time clocks so work hours for nonexempt staff didn’t have to be manually entered!) so by the time they’d tripled in size they were completely overwhelmed and hiring up to “fully staffed” didn’t actually help that much.
          I was salaried and that was the only workplace that ever messed up my paycheck, and it was messed up multiple times(!!)

        3. This is a name, I guess*

          At least hospital administrators are keeping the hospital running! Where I see the most waste is in INSURANCE COMPANIES! They literally don’t even need to exist. And even if they did, the way they currently operate is disgusting and bloated.

          1. Anonymous Commentator*

            The answer is universal healthcare, but it will be a huge right.

            And for anyone trying to tell me how much in wages you would lose to taxes, let me ask you this: how much money are you losing every month in insurance and co-pays? And if insurance is so great, why do so many people with it go bankrupt once they have a huge medical crisis like cancer?

            I’m Canadian and the system is far from perfect, but I feel piece of mind that possible things like cancer treatment and stuff for me will be covered without battling some insurance person.

            1. pancakes*

              People trying to make that argument seem to be overlooking the well-documented fact that the US already spends more on healthcare than any other wealthy country, and for worse outcomes. It’s not as if the status quo is some sort of bargain. The best that can be said for it is that a very small number of people are comfortable with it.

            2. Bee*

              I did the math once, for my company. If some sort of government-run healthcare was implemented with a 4% income tax to cover it, my company could straight-up pay the tax on the behalf of all of our employees and it would still cost us about half as much as we currently spend on healthcare benefits, with significant improvement to employee coverage.

              Of course, I have very little hope of something like that ever being implemented, mostly because of the absolutely enormous structural and administrative changes that would be required. It would take years to implement, and I just don’t see one party remaining in power long enough to fully see it through. Maybe in a couple of decades, the public pressure will be great enough to force change regardless of the political party in power?

        4. MissBaudelaire*

          I remember at my orientation for exjob at my local hospital. I was not patient care, but we all went to the same orientation.

          “If a patient offers to bring in donuts or some other goody for your floor after taking care of them, tell them not to. Instead, tell them to donate to the hospital!”

          No one ever did that.

      4. PT*

        My friend is a teacher who works as a llama trainer during the summers. The barn he works at is paying llama trainers slightly over fed minimum wage (so $8-$9 an hour) which is ridiculous because llama trainers have to take and maintain an active llama trainer certification, so it is a skilled position. Target and Walmart are paying $13/hour in our region, as a comparison.

        Anyway the barn was having trouble hiring llama trainers but didn’t want to get locked in hiring them at high wages, so they’ve signed a contract with a contracting/temp agency to hire outside llama trainers for $30 an hour, almost four times what some of the in-house llama trainers are getting paid. Now the in house llama trainers are livid, and if they quit, they’ll…just be replaced by contract workers.

        1. Lenora Rose*

          The more in house trainers quit, the more the llama barn will be bleeding money with these over-triple-the-wages contractors. (And the contractors themselves probably don’t see all of that if it’s through a staffing agency, since they skim a LOT off the top, so they’re not necessarily as much better off as it looks.)

          This will close down the barn, in the end. Poor llamas.

          1. Fran Fine*

            Not necessarily. The contractors won’t get company paid benefits, so the latter may actually save money in the long run by using nothing but contractors. I used to work for a law firm that did this, and they’re still in business and have been since the 70s. It’s insane.

    2. Liz*

      My mom lives in a retirement community, where there was always a nurse on site, 24/7. but last year, they moved the healthcare residents across the street to a brand new facility, and the nurse went with them. my mom is in an independent apartment. they’ve been trying to replace and hire a second nurse for the original location, but as a not for profit (privately owned, not corporate giant), they simply can’t pay as much as others, such as hospitals.

  3. tessa*

    Enough voters, and those who don’t vote, let this happen, and let it continue.

    There’s no fixing the situation until enough voters advocate for greater causes like wages indexed to inflation, de-coupling health insurance and health care from employment, treating teaching as the profession it is, and so on.

      1. rolly*

        @tessa and @Generic Name

        Are there any candidates to vote for who have these as their policy positions?

        And if not, should we just not vote till someone does? Like, I can’t help but wonder who you’ve possibly voted for in US presidential or congressional elections.

        1. Marny*

          I know we aren’t supposed to get political on here, but Elizabeth Warren had (and still has) these positions.

        2. CouldntPickAUsername*

          look, not voting is not a path to victory. Yes both parties suck but one party sucks way less than the other. We won’t make any progress until we can erode the power base of the really bad party. Incremental improvement is still improvement. Get off your butt and vote.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            And educate yourself about the issues & the candidates’ stances. Read up on their planks & their voting records.

            Also, vote with your pocketbook by purchasing from companies that support their workers as much as possible. (I know not everyone is in the same financial place, but it can be easier than you think.)

          2. Dino*

            Yeah, except when they win they won’t do anything to help those of us who held our noses and voted them in. They know they’ve got us locked in and won’t move left on any position so long as they keep winning elections. I’m going to only vote my conscience going forward, even if that means voting Green Party or whatever.

            1. Anonymous4*

              Yes, and that worked really well for the people who voted for Ralph Nader, didn’t it? And for the rest of us! Vote reality, okay?

              1. MissElizaTudor*

                That’s a good reason to advocate for ranked choice voting, so people can vote for someone they actually think would help, in addition to holding their nose and voting for the lesser evil.

              2. Dino*

                No. If they want my vote, they need to earn it. I’ve been voting for decades based on Democrat promises and fear of worse and I’m SICK of it.

                If the Dems want my vote, they’ll work for it. Or, as I suspect is their preference, they’ll continue sucking the balls of the capital-owning class while giving us crumbs and blaming the GOP for their lack of spine. I’m done playing the game.

            2. Elizabeth West*

              Yes, I know, but democracy isn’t just voting and then sitting on your butt until the next election. You have to PUSH THEM. Repeatedly. And as more progressive candidates come forward, vote them in and get the old guard (what Sarah Kendzior calls “vichy D3m0cr@ts”) out.

              This is work-related; they work for us. It’s their JOB. If they won’t do it, we have to insist they do it. We’re the bosses!

              I’d love to have more choice in terms of parties, but we’re not there yet. And right now, the authoritarian threat is still looming because of all the Rumpledneckskin-packed courts so we have to use what we have.

            3. Beany*

              I really don’t see what good voting Green or some other third party is going to do, at the Federal level. If by some miracle the Green candidate is elected, they’re going to have the same ability to effect change as the politician they replaced — one vote in the House or Senate. Which is great if they replaced someone from the Bad Side, but if they got elected at all, it’s much more likely they replaced someone from the Not-So-Bad Side.

              The problem with making progress isn’t that the Not-So-Bad Side aren’t doing anything, it’s that they don’t have enough legislators on their side — especially in the Senate. They have a *theoretical* Senate majority, but it’s not filibuster-proof, and two purple Senators from their side are blocking changes to the filibuster rules.

              The solution to this is to elect *more* Senators for the Not-So-Bad Side, so they’re no longer beholden to those two purple Senators. Nothing else fixes this in the short to medium term.

          3. pancakes*

            Have you not noticed that one of the parties, the really bad one, is also very active in trying to curtail voting access and voters’ rights? Or that the Voting Rights Act was recently gutted by the Supreme Court? As of July there are at least 17 states controlled by this party that are chipping away at access to voting. Simply telling people to keep voting isn’t nearly enough.

            1. Lenora Rose*

              Nobody thinks it is, and nobody denies that there are obvious obstacles some people suffer in attempting to vote that others don’t.

              And yet, if they won’t support voter’s rights (And they are trying, except for the Republican’s Puppets), one way to fight back is to make sure the election is SO much of a landslide that all their efforts to cheat aren’t enough.

              1. pancakes*

                I don’t quite agree; I think there are a number of commenters here, and people in the wider world, whose idea of political action begins and end with electoral politics.

                Good luck trying to rally a landslide around centrists who won’t go any further than saying healthcare should be “affordable.”

            2. The Dude*

              The really bad one??? Are you serious right now? Let’s see, are you following the rules? Before you comment: Please be kind, stay on-topic, and follow the site’s commenting rules.

              1. pancakes*

                It isn’t my language of choice, but I thought that in context it would be clear I was responding to what CouldntPickAUserName said: “We won’t make any progress until we can erode the power base of the really bad party.”

          4. pancakes*

            Nineteen states enacted voting restrictions in 2021. Will link to an article about this separately.

            1. New Puppy Auntie*

              Not included in that article, “A Wisconsin judge on Thursday ruled absentee ballot drop boxes are illegal, except when placed inside the offices of local clerks.”
              (Linking to article separately)

    1. Chairman of the Bored*

      I agree that health insurance and health care should be de-coupled from employment.

      However, if that were to occur I expect employers would find it *harder* to hire people rather than *easier*.

      Access to health care is like half the reason I’m bothering to work at all right now; remove that motivation and it would take an awful lot to get me back to the grindstone.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        I think this would balance out.

        I actually like my job, but it’s a nonprofit and getting a breather on healthcare costs would do us a big favor (we have good insurance but I know the cost of it is a serious burden). If I didn’t have to have the insurance I could go back to doing any of a number of other jobs I’ve done that I liked, but where I couldn’t stay because of the lack of benefits. I also need to earn a living so I’ll be working no matter what.

        Decoupling healthcare and work would let people work part-time if that was all they needed, work several part-time jobs instead of clinging to one full-time one, if they wanted; help them be self-employed if they wanted; not work either short- or long-term if they needed to; etc. There’s a lot of flexibility there.

        1. AnonForThis*

          I got a decent raise in the last year (at a not-for-profit hospital) with a promotion, but the same old, same old 3% annual raise later in the year. Two months later, the benefits selection period came up and the increase in health insurance costs alone wiped out much of that, not to mention the general COL increase is much higher than my raise.

          1. Anonymous4*

            The ACA was going to help with the cost of health insurance — until A Certain Political Party managed to gut several key provisions, remember.

      2. Analyst Editor*

        It would make the labor market much more flexible and reduce the advantage giant corporations have over small businesses in hiring, because the former can provide much richer benefits due to having more money in general.

        1. NNN222*

          Larger employers also have the advantage of larger pools of employees enrolled in insurance which lowers the risk and allows for better coverage at a lower price.

          1. Anonymous4*

            Larger employers (as in, good-sized corporations) tend to go self-funded, which means that they decide what’s covered and to what extent. Depending on who’s making the decisions on coverage, that could be a good thing — or not.

      3. goducks*

        I disagree. There are a lot of people who make decisions about which job to take specifically because of the insurance offered. A lot of employees stay in jobs that they hate because the benefits are slightly above par, or because they perceive them to be, and are worried that their insurance will become unaffordable if they change jobs.
        Equalizing that with national health care de-coupled from employment would mean that employees would be free to make decisions on where they’d like to work based on salary, but also on other factors such as how much they enjoy the job or the working environment.
        It may not have a huge effect on hiring young, childless healthy people, but as soon as kids or age or ill health are in the mix, insurance benefits become a primary driver for employment decisions for many workers, often equal to or greater than salary.

      4. Rav*

        Decoupling will benefit the employee more than the employer. People who have medical needs can leave the company.

        OTOH, companies will no longer need to scour any mundane reason to fire anyone that’s using the insurance too much. (I know, that’s illegal, but when has the law stopped someone hellbent on doing something?)

        1. Anonymous Luddite*

          See also the contender of “worst boss of the year” who made the HR person figure out why the employees were using so much of their health insurance.

        2. Actuary*

          This is generally assumed, but as a health insurance actuary I can tell you that the vast sums the employers are currently paying toward insurance/benefits will not end up in our paychecks, the employers will save billions upon billions in expenses and the tax burden to then provide single payor health insurance will fall on the workers. Any possible way to prevent this from happening would require a 100% total overhaul of our tax structure, not just small changes. Given our political system, there is 0% chance of said overhaul happening and especially not in a way that would remove the financial burden from businesses/employers- no matter which party is in charge.

          As it is W2 season, check yours for DD to see the amount your employer paid for benefits. That is likely to become your burden in the form of taxes (in addition to the premiums you paid) with a single payor system.

          I in no way think we have a great or even good system, and yes it needs overhaul, but please don’t believe workers would benefit more than employers by a single payor system.

      5. pancakes*

        Do you truly believe that most Americans work only for healthcare benefits, and would be able to cover the rest of their bills without work? Citations needed for the existence of the parallel universe you are imagining. People aren’t nearly that well off in the one I live in. I don’t know how to make sense of why you believe this to be true. It’s not as if no one has researched how many people live paycheck to paycheck.

        1. MsClaw*

          I don’t think it’s a wide-spread issue. However, there is a slice of the American workforce, aged say 60-64.75, who might retire (or seriously downshift) if they weren’t counting down the days until they could get medicare.

          There are also people who work jobs they hate or for companies they hate, because they could take a job at some other place they think they’d like better or would strike out on their own, but maybe that place is really small and doesn’t offer health insurance and/or they can’t afford to get insurance on the open market.

          1. Anonymous Luddite*

            Exactly this. Wife works for a company that provides incredibly excellent health care benefits for employees down to 20 hours a week. There are a large number of people who work there specifically so they can devote the majority of their hours to their passion projects and still have health insurance.

            Pancakes, I get that it is a hot button issue and yet you’re coming across as remarkably confrontational.

            1. pancakes*

              I thought it was a remarkably obtuse thing to say, and still do. Chairman of the Bored clarified that they believe their comment reflects the reality of “some” Americans, and I’m still wondering why they think this small group should be the primary focus in discussing whether or not most would benefit from decoupling employment and healthcare.

              1. new*

                Most would benefit. I’ve spent 40 years making employment decisions because of insurance. Everyone I know has done the same unless they had a spouse that could provide for them.

                1. pancakes*

                  Maybe there is some misunderstanding here. I don’t disagree that many, many people make employment decisions because of insurance. I’ve done it myself. What I took issue with was Chairman of the Bored’s remarks about going “back to the grindstone.” Not many people besides a relatively small handful of boomers could afford to simply stop working entirely if they stopped getting insurance through work. Most of us have additional expenses besides that one.

          2. KittyCardigans*

            Yup. This is my in-laws’ situation. They would be overjoyed to switch up their work/volunteer elsewhere/downshift, but they have to wait for Medicare. They literally have a countdown calendar.

          3. Windchime*

            I turned 60 this year and decided to retire because Covid and personal losses have basically just kicked my ass. And I wanted my life to become my own. So……I am not eligible for Medicare for another 5 years, and am paying for COBRA coverage. It is so, so expensive. I’m paying over $750/month. I could probably find something on the exchange but honestly there are a lot of plans out there that are spendy but still have $5,000 deductibles and stuff like that. I couldn’t bear the thought of working another 5 years just for my insurance, so I hold my nose and pay it.

            I don’t know what the answer is, but the system as it is is about ready to collapse.

        2. Chairman of the Bored*

          To clarify, I don’t think *most* Americans work primarily for health insurance but I also know for a fact that *some* Americans do.

          “Keep working here or you’ll lose access to health care” is leverage that employers currently have over their workers. I definitely agree that this is bad and wrong and should be changed as soon as possible.

          However, I don’t think that employers will find their hiring to be easier if this leverage is removed.

          Also, I don’t have much sympathy for employers, don’t care if they have to pay higher wages, and would of course view it as a good thing if they were no longer able to use health care as a means to keep people tied to a particular otherwise-unappealing job.

          1. pancakes*

            I don’t see any particular reason to believe that the primary reason for decoupling employment and healthcare should be making hiring easier rather than, say, making sure that absolutely everyone has healthcare, whether they’re employed or not.

        3. Beth*

          Exactly! And speaking as a worker here: even if we assume that there were a lot of people in America, who are in high-paying enough roles for them to build up the kind of retirement savings and financial comfort we’re talking about here, and who are only staying in those jobs for the health benefits–I would absolutely love to see them get universal healthcare and retire. I’ve spent my entire working life watching people my parents’ age not retire. Then the people ten years younger than them get stuck at middle management because there are no openings higher up. And then people my age get stuck in ‘flat hierarchies’ where we end up doing the same tasks for years, or competing for ‘entry level’ jobs that want ten years’ experience. We mostly don’t get promoted because there are no openings internally–so we start job hunting, because it’s the only way to get a real raise, and then suddenly we’re an entire generation of disloyal job hoppers who apparently don’t prioritize our work.

          I would *love*, for the record, to have a viable career path where I get a job at a company I like. Job hunting is stressful and kind of terrible. I would love to be able to count on a true cost-of-living adjustment each year AND a merit raise if my performance merits it, to be able to trust I’ll get promoted as I gain skills and experience, and to not have to worry about job hunting again for a long, long time. But that requires the people who are currently at the top to keep moving too. They’re not–they need the job for insurance, because costs are too out of control even for well-off workers–so instead, we all stagnate.

          1. C.*

            Yes, I agree with all of this. On my team right now, there is an individual who has been there for nearly thirty years, most of which in the same leadership role. By my calculations, they will remain there for the next 5-10. I don’t necessarily begrudge them of that, but I know for a fact that there are plenty of enormously talented people who have passed through this team who ultimately decided to leave because our company wouldn’t make room for them. Someone was already in the “one” role. It’s enormously frustrating.

        4. Rolly*

          I’d certainly retire earlier and/or try different jobs (probably part time) if it wasn’t for needing health insurance from my employer. That would free up jobs for younger people.

      6. This is a name, I guess*

        Not true! Two economists found a causal link between the cost of healthcare and the offshoring/automation of blue collar jobs. Health insurance has gotten so expensive in the US that it has made it impossible for many companies hiring lower skilled jobs to pay living wages + healthcare. In fact, while actual wages have stagnated, people’s compensation has increased because the cost of healthcare has gone up so much!


        1. Bee*

          This article is so interesting, and matches up well with my experience. As a small manufacturing company making a low-profit product that employs mostly blue-collar workers, it has been a horrible struggle to keep insurance costs reasonable. We had one year where two staff had unexpected medical emergencies, and it resulted in a 40% price hike to our already almost-unpayable insurance premiums. No other company would even quote us. We ended up switching to an ICHRA plan, but that has been incredibly unreliable and the quality of care varies wildly from state to state, and now no insurance company will even consider bringing us back on for a price we can afford.

          We can’t even just raise our product prices, either – our pricing is controlled pretty strictly by the Big Box Stores that we sell to, so getting any kind of price increase is an ordeal in and of itself. We would LOVE to be able to raise wages more than we already have, or to offer better healthcare, but we actually cannot make it work financially. Changing the healthcare system to remove the burden of insurance cost from the employer would be a huge boon to our business, and probably thousands of other small blue-collar businesses out there.

      7. Onomatopoetic*

        I live in a country where health care isn’t tied to work. You know what. I still work. I have other bills to pay, and I actually like my work. But because I don’t have to be a captive because of health insurance, I can leave without myself or my family going bankrupt if we get sick. We have a social security net (with big gaps), but I still work. I just don’t have to put up with horrible treatment in fear of being homeless if I quit.

    2. Observer*

      No. Because this is not just an issue of wages. And especially not an issue of minimum wage workers.

      Most of these jobs are paying well over minimum wage. But it’s still not competitive for the jobs in question, in most cases. Bu also, if you look at the issues, the pay scale is only one small part of the picture.

      The disrespectful processes, the ridiculous requirements, the over-working and often other types of mistreatment, all play into this.

      1. Nea*

        That’s how it worked for a friend who just joined The Great Resignation. She’d stuck with a sales job through covid, through low pay, through all conditions.

        Then they offered her a raise after the holiday rush (so in real terms she wouldn’t get extra money) and even more insultingly, did not tell her two of her coworkers tested positive after she’d been working alongside them.

        It wasn’t the initial pay that made her leave.

      2. kiki*

        I don’t necessarily think this is voters’ (or non-voters) faults because I haven’t seen these issues brought to the major tables with substantial interest yet, but in the US *could* pass stronger labor protection laws beyond wages. Other countries do have stronger laws to regulate over-work and some of the disrespectful processes (like scheduling shifts well in advance). Not every type of mis-treatment can be regulated, but I think a lot of Americans have been convinced that the government couldn’t or shouldn’t play a role in this stuff that it doesn’t even occur to them that maybe a few things should be (and are in other countries).

    3. Gerry Keay*

      Or unions. Unions would work too. In fact, I’d argue that labor organizing is more important than electoral politics right now, given the fact that those in power seem allergic to actual governing.

      1. Cle*

        Plenty of places where unions are strong are still having issues hiring. They’re not a panacea for making conditions better. In my neck of the woods, long term employees see the most benefits whereas new employees don’t see much at all. It’s the outcome of negotiating for better pay/benefits for current workers, but making concessions on anyone hired after a certain date, as well as “bumping” based on seniority that occurs during layoffs. The wages are better than non-union shops, but YMMV wildly in other ways based on past negotiations and what the workplace culture used to be like, rather than what is popular with newer/younger workers now.

    4. Wilbur*

      I agree, but with an important caveat. People need to vote in primaries. If you really want change, the general election is not a place where you can make that happen.

    5. Girasol*

      Oh yes! De-couple health insurance! That’s why companies that need to hire more people work everyone twice as hard instead, because the overtime (when applicable) is cheaper than adding another head-count’s worth of health insurance costs.

    6. Chirpy*

      Well, I haven’t voted for anyone from a certain party who’s very anti-anyone-who’s-not-an-old-rich-white-man in at least a decade, and neither has a majority of the state, but when the state is so incredibly gerrymandered, they still keep winning.

    7. Cle*

      Government subsidized quality child and elder care, paid parental leave, etc. 88% of prime age men participate in the workforce, but only 75.9% of prime age women do. Just ticking up that percentage by a point or two adds hundreds of thousands of people to the workforce.

    8. PlainJane*

      Remember that a lot of these questions are local, county, and state–don’t just worry about the national elections.

  4. Cobol*

    I’ve been looking for a good job for three years now. I’ve definitely been seeing more good jobs listed (or what appear good jobs from good companies), and getting a higher hit rate on interviews, but not remarkably so. I am seeing a ton of listings from companies I wouldn’t think of working for, and (when listed) a pay that doesn’t match what they are looking for.

  5. Justin*

    I wonder if part of the issue is a natural one where the people who were hired The Old Way think what worked for them should work for anyone and to admit you need to change is to admit the way you were hired wasn’t okay.

    And I wonder if some of them were underpaid and mistreated etc and have that whole “I had to do it!!!” thing going on.

    But I do appreciate that I’ve, in my own search, gotten a lot of honesty from those who have engaged with me after my initial application. They’re still too slow, though. And, I hope, a couple might miss out on me if one of them wants me. We’ll see.

    1. Amber T*

      I saw this quote as applied to parents, but honestly it’s pretty applicable here too –

      There are two types of people: one who says “I had to suffer and I’ll do what I can to make sure others don’t have to,” and “I had to suffer, so everyone has to.”

      1. Lab Boss*

        I’ve always thought there was a middle path, though- “It wasn’t easy but I think I turned out well, I don’t want to change to something that seems easier on its face but might not turn out as good.” That probably applies more to parenting than to job hunting, though.

      2. Justin*

        Yep. As since I have a toddler, I am trying to avoid the latter behavior as much as possible for him.

      3. pancakes*

        There is also a third type, who has never suffered at all and has only the vaguest sense of what it is. Last week professor Nina Strohminger tweeted, “I asked Wharton students what they thought the average American worker makes per year and 25% of them thought it was over six figures. One of them thought it was $800k. Really not sure what to make of this (The real number is $45k).”

        1. Important Moi*

          Sadly, I saw this and knew it would disappear quickly. The US has a complicated relationship with elitism and “elite” education, . This doesn’t help.

          1. pancakes*

            I’m not seeing that this story has in fact disappeared quickly. It has been picked up by Market Watch, Business Insider, and a number of other publications and TV stations. CNN ran a story on it and said “Their answers went viral.”

        2. Lucy*

          Just because someone grew up with money or was around money doesn’t mean they haven’t suffered. Look at the children of Patty Duke’s nephew. Those kids grew up in hell and no one could do anything because their parents had enough money to hire lawyers. Money does not equal the end of suffering. For some people it equals the beginning.

          1. pancakes*

            That’s not what I was saying, or trying to suggest. My point was and is that it’s problematic for students at one of the most elite business schools in the country to be so wildly out of touch with the income of average workers.

    2. Batgirl*

      I think that’s really insightful; admitting that people with options will turn down old conditions is basically admitting you took advantage of people’s lack of power for years. Few people can look at themselves that starkly.

      1. Amber T*

        I think it’s a double edged sword – they took advantage, but they were also taken advantage of. I’m not sure which would be harder to admit and come to terms with here.

    3. Sherm*

      And the Old Way worked for so long that many companies just can’t believe they need to change. They are like Wily E Coyote running off the cliff, tapping the air below them and thinking “There’s gotta be ground here, right??”

      1. Justin*

        It’s why they want to go ‘back to normal.’ Like, even regardless of covid (not that that’s not an issue, but it’s not the ONLY one), normal was pretty bad for a ton of jobs.

      2. Dhaskoi*

        They got away with running on air for years, so perhaps it’s not surprising that they can’t admit they’re falling yet.

    4. Anonymous Luddite*

      My company’s unofficial motto is “We’ve always done it this way.”
      No surprise the one glassdoor review says they are stuck in the 70s.

    5. Nanani*

      I wonder how many got hired under the VERY old system, where company loyalty existed in both directions and you could expect to retire with a good pension and all that, and only see what came after as savings/bonuses to themselves for cutting costs but can’t figure out why they can’t keep cutting salaries forever. Math is hard on CEOs you guys :(

    6. Edie W*

      I think there are definitely some “I had to suffer so you should too” folks out there, but I do think maybe some of the reluctance to offer higher salaries, etc. is institutions that can’t (or aren’t willing to) give raises (or more PTO, or whatever) to current employees and are concerned about creating disparities that would affect morale. This is a real issue in my field where salaries for new hires tend to go up each year but those already employed are lucky to get a cost of living raise, so you end up with a new hire making more than someone with the same title who has been working for the institution for five years — it definitely creates some morale issues.

      1. Nanani*

        Then they should give the people with 5 years experience a big pay increase. Call it retention so they don’t take their five years of experience elsewhere.

      2. Aitch Arr*


        A rising tide may lift all boats, but many companies don’t even consider doing market adjustments or internal equity analyses.

      3. pancakes*

        In some instances, sure, but this does not account for forty years of wage stagnation, nor the ever-widening income gap. Look up the number of new millionaires during the pandemic, for a start. The lack of morale issues around income inequality has more to do with the popular American delusion that any of us could hit the jackpot tomorrow than any sort of aversion to income inequality.

        1. MissBaudelaire*

          Ah yes, that old mindset of “I am not poor, I am a temporary embarrassed millionaire. Therefore, I want millionaires to be treated well, for when I am one (which is any moment now!), I will reap those benefits.”

    7. my experience*

      Part of it (at least at my job) is that current employees are earning $X. To hire a new person at that level (or below) and pay them $X + $10,000 is an equity issue. So – you have to pay everyone more. Now you are talking about a multi-million dollar project. (To the credit of my current employer, they are doing this – “salary adjustments” for people whose current salary is below market. But it is slow because millions of dollars don’t appear in the budget overnight.) Overall eventually, yes, this will also help retention. But it’s slow.

      1. Serin*

        This happened to me in about 1992 – my company recalibrated all its salaries and I got like a 20% raise. Nice.

        But this is one of the things that makes wage stagnation so difficult to fix. Not only does it benefit some people in a direct way, but it also works its way through a system in such a way that it’s hard to change anything without changing everything.

  6. MisterForkbeard*

    We’re in an odd situation, where we KNOW what the problem is and want to fix it… but our hiring budgets are made 18 months in advance. So we’re hiring at headcount/price rates that were guessed at in January 2021. We’re currently putting together budgets for the June22->May23 timeframe. It’s just not flexible.

    We can make some adjustments, but overall it’s just a huge issue and we’re kind of stuck. And I work in a niche where it’s particularly hard, since someone who works for us for a year can frequently get a huge raise by getting trained by us and then leaving after a year and working as a consultant.

    Short version: All my employees should make 35% more and we have to retain them on QOL and job satisfaction.

    1. Alexis Rosay*

      At least you know it and are actively working to make job satisfaction and QOL high! I think that’s in contrast to a lot of employers who should be competing on QOL if they can’t compete on salary, and…aren’t.

      1. MisterForkbeard*

        That’s a good point. I have nursing friends where employers aren’t competing on QOL or Salary or Workload and are incredibly surprised that people are quitting in the middle of a pandemic.

        I see this with some tech companies too. For some of them, they’ve openly admitted they’re just going to hire people with the expectation that they’ll quit in 6-12 months and they’re only really interested in keeping the managers and architects.

        1. Alexis Rosay*

          Yeah, personally, I would gladly take a workplace with a lower salary and higher QOL as a reasonable tradeoff, and I’m sure many other people would too. My partner could probably increase his salary by 50% if he left his current job, but he actually truly enjoys his job and has a manageable workload, and it’s hard to put a price on that (given that we can meet our basic needs currently–it would be very different otherwise). I’d rather be able to eat dinner together every night than have him make gobs more money.

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I understand the timeframe of when budgets get done. However, a company that isn’t able to be flexible and adjust when there are dramatic shifts in the environment is not going to survive long term. Maybe it’s the hiring budget. Maybe it’s dramatic changes in what customers want. Maybe it’s a 2+ year long pandemic. Adapt, or die.

      1. MisterForkbeard*

        I mean, we’ll survive. But it’s pretty clear to all involved at this point that the current budgeting process just isn’t sustainable at all with regards to hires. We’ve started to get some out-of-budget and off-cycle comp reviews, but they’re typically limited to the people who are doing really well or who are horrendously underpaid.

        At least it’s a step in the right direction, and I’ve also gotten permission to halt some of my hiring and use that budget to prop up salaries.

    3. EPLawyer*

      Honestly if you admitted your pay was low but offered some other really cool benefit, like lots of time off or no jumping through hoops for sick leave, that could help. Also making sure work loads are manageable. People will put up with slightly lower salaries to not work 60 hours a week regularly and still be overloaded.

      1. MisterForkbeard*

        I tell new hires (and I interview everyone who works for me or one of my managers) that our company doesn’t always keep up with salaries and it’s a known problem – so we have some ways to fix it but we try to compensate with unofficial time off, less work, etc. We also used to let people work from home pretty much whenever they wanted/needed to before COVID happened, but that’s less of a benefit now for obvious reasons :)

          1. Miss 404*

            Can confirm this is definitely a thing! While as an apprentice I can’t leave my company yet anyway, I did this with the built-in internal mobility program – my current job, in the long run, will likely pay much less due to being the “poor relation” of the departments, but it was worth it to avoid crying into my keyboard on a semi-regular basis…

    4. mlem*

      Is this a matter of “our budget has to be approved by a legislative body” (or similar — I can see academia and the like having that kind of schedule), or is it “this is how we’ve always done it and we aren’t responsive enough to change course”? The first, well, my sympathies and good luck. For the latter, my company has gradually been revisiting some of its existing schedules and processes, even though that was “impossible”/unthinkable before the pandemic.

      1. MisterForkbeard*

        It’s mostly the 2nd. I work for a huge corporation that might as well be a country, but the bureaucracy involved with their budgets is frankly insane.

    5. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      Government and grant funded positions are especially vulnerable to this. The budget was never high enough to pay people well in easier to hire times, you can’t add more $$ because the budget is decided years in advance or requires legislative approval, so you just watch programs and needed services hemorrhage staff without any of the tools to replace them.

    6. MusicWithRocksIn*

      One of our problems is we keep loosing our HR people before we can manage to hire anyone. What we need is about three people in the position of our one HR manager, but since they want one person to do all the things, we just keep hiring someone, they find out they have to work 13 hours a day and quit, and we don’t manage to get any other positions hired. Round and round we go.

      1. MisterForkbeard*

        Ugh. We have some recruiters in one country that are dropping like flies. I’m not sure what it is, but the new recruiters always take 5 months before they’re productive… and then they leave.

        I did run into a problem where the QOL sucked for one of my employees because he had about 2x as much work as he should (and I could prove it via metrics) but the job was never considered important enough that I could get funding to hire another person to help.

        He quit and it caused major problems. I convinced upper management this was going to keep happening unless we hired at least two people to replace him. So we hired two junior people and give them additional help from another manager with some experience, and it mostly works. But we’ll have to address it again in a year or two.

    7. Anonymous Hippo*

      So, coming from a manufacturing background, I’m not understanding how you are hamstrung by the budget like that? If we find out something costs a lot more in 2022 than we anticipated, we still have to buy it, we just have to explain the reason behind the variance. We aren’t actually constrained by the budget, we just have to explain a variance. So being held to something you decided 18 month in advance in a massively changing market is really strange to me, and seems seriously detrimental to the overall business.

  7. Brett*

    On the software industry one…
    That’s an industry where no one really knows what competitive pay is anymore. We were competitive, and our company thinks we are still competitive…
    but when we are losing people, we are finding out in their exit interviews that they are landing new roles with 50%-200% increases in pay. People who are getting paid over $150k are getting offers in the $500k range.

    The scary part for those employees though, is they are also seeing a lot of bait and switch in everything else when they jump to those salaries. I stay in touch with them, and it is extremely commonly to jump to these high dollar offers with promises of 5 weeks vacation and 40 hour work weeks, and then find out six months later that they have taken zero vacation and never worked a week under 48 hours with lots of 80 hour weeks.

    Another common one was finding out that 100% remote meant 100% remote. They would never come into an office or meet anyone in person because the offices had been permanently closed (as well as lots of fringe benefits that went with those offices). Having the option of 100% remote is very different from having the requirement of 100% remote, even in software development.

    1. Important Moi*

      Could you elaborate on your last sentence please?

      “Having the option of 100% remote is very different from having the requirement of 100% remote, even in software development.”

      1. urguncle*

        Tech companies (especially, but also others) are closing physical offices completely. This can mean for employees that they will never meet coworkers in person, there’s no central office or headquarters and they are likely working with employees that are spread across many many time zones with not a lot of organization or regard for others. You might live on the east coast, but your boss lives in Alaska.

      2. Butterfly Counter*

        I am not Brett, but I imagine it’s that being able to be remote and not having to go into a centralized office with coworkers and managers, etc., is very different than being remote and not being able whatsoever to meet a coworker, manager, etc. in a centralized office.

        For some people, the latter I’m sure would be fine. I am not one of those people. I would not feel like part of an organization or company if the people I worked with were only words on a screen or voices over a chat. I need to know I COULD meet with a boss or coworker if I need to. Online meetings often just feel too imaginary.

        1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

          I would also think if a business is really closing all of its physical locations, how quickly can the company just cease to exist at all? A physical location has the impression of permanence, sustainability, a “headquarters”. If I was working for a company that ended up closing all of the physical offices, I’d probably be anxiously checking and double checking my paychecks, retirement accounts, health insurance coverage over and over; especially in a volatile industry like tech.

          1. Fran Fine*

            This is exactly why my company (a software giant in its niche) is keeping its physical offices even though most of the workforce has chosen to stay full time remote (and a third of their workforce around the globe was fully remote pre-pandemic, myself included). They want our customers to feel confident that we’re not going anywhere and they believe the headquarters in different countries – and some of our global satellite offices – convey that message during uncertain times. Plus, some of our employees do want to go in from time to time to see each other (some offices, because they’re small, are super close), so having a centralized location open for those folks is easier.

      3. Gel Pen Destroyer*

        Not Brett either, but my 2 cents based on experiences of my family members – tech companies are notorious for not respecting work/life balance, but, at least, in the days of on site work, there were some perks that came along with that. For instance, at one place where it was common for people to work 60+ hours, but there was a professional chef, a gym, and subsidized child care all on site, plus low-cost spa and additional gym services available at a place just down the street. Now, with everyone working 100% remote, there’s no chef, no on-site gym, and no low-cost childcare, but everyone is still expected to work 60+ hours a week with little or no raise to account for child care and other things they may now need to source themselves.

      4. just another bureaucrat*

        I think people also don’t understand that 100% required remote isn’t a positive for everyone. If it’s a positive for you, then you can’t fathom someone who wants to go into the office. It also assumes that everyone wants to give up a portion of their home to their office, and shed the work life balance. Some people want to go into the office.

        I also am a pretty strong believer that demanding 100% remote hurts people who are likely to be struggling in other ways, who live in shared spaces, who have very small homes, who don’t have great support resources. It’s the same as a lot of other things. It benefits the people who have the most already most. If you’ve got someone to take care of your kids and a spare room you can leave then it’s great. But if you have a noisy roommate and you struggle to get your work done at home you’re not going to be as successful.

    2. MusicWithRocksIn*

      It’s all a tradeoff – Not having to pay for an office frees up a LOT of money to pay higher salaries.

    3. Qwerty*

      Software feels like its at the other end of the extreme and is leading towards developers being seen just as faceless interchangable cogs where other industries have workers pushing for more rights. In addition to throwing money at developers, so many companies are removing the skills assessment part of the interview to make it as fast as possible, and often even skipping meeting the hiring manager or team. They just hire a bunch of people as a pool of resources and figure out which team they’ll land on after they accept the offer. Some of the bigger companies are extending offers based on resumes alone.

        1. BeenThere*

          I agree with Cyllan here, I’m in software and several of the companies are facing the effects of their employees starting to organize. I’ve never heard of anyone skipping the tech interview and as an engineer I would not want to work for any employer who did that. Cattle calls (pools of resources) where you don’t know which team you are going to end up on until well after you start, are a method for sucking engineers into undesirable jobs. Well known at two large Bay Area companies. I’ve refused to participate in these and had good traction with recruiter syncing me up with specific hiring managers and teams instead.

    4. cat socks*

      I work in software development and the bait and switch is one of the reasons I’m staying put for now. I make good money and I am fully remote with no physical office to go back to because it got shut down in 202.

      Even pre-covid while my building was open, my boss is in a different state and I did not met any of my co-workers in person. They are in India and scattered across the US. My company does have a central headquarters and pre-covid, we used to meet in person each quarter for planning meetings. Maybe that will happen again sometime.

      I’ve been with my company long enough that I’ve built up enough capital to have a flexibility when needed and I really enjoy working from home.

      1. Gotcha*

        you wouldn’t happen to be in FinTech would you? this sounds a lot like my husbands job. Could be a lot of places, though now, I guess.

    5. Software Dev*

      Ugh yeah as a dev at a relatively small company, I get this.

      I make 115k and I love my job, but I am really hoping my company is able to keep up with the rising tide of dev costs, because otherwise I suspect eventually some of my coworkers might jump ship for those higher paying jobs, which will probably results in me needing to look. We’re hiring right now and its—difficult.

      1. ButtonPusher*

        Wish there were a chat feature so I could know the company and apply!

        Are they being very picky though? Refusing to hire junior to mid-level devs or is it senior dev or bust?

        Not sure why they don’t remember what it was like to learn any programming language and that there are so many out there today that we don’t know them all :)

        1. pancakes*

          You seem to be taking it for granted that everyone in the upper echelons of management got there by working their way up. I would not assume that to be true. On that note, have a look at my comment elsewhere on this page about a Wharton business school professor’s survey of her students’ knowledge of average incomes.

          1. ButtonPusher*

            Ummmm no. I am looking for the opportunity to work my way up in a market that only wants to hire senior level. My comment suggests that I don’t take that for granted: I acknowledge that we all have to learn and work our way up and wonder what the ‘upper echelons of management seem for forget that when they are hiring.

            I’m aware of the median salary for my level in my market, so the Wahrton professor’s ad hoc class survey doesn’t really mean much to me.

            1. pancakes*

              I think there’s a misunderstanding here. I’m not questioning your awareness of median salaries, nor your willingness to work your way up — I am suggesting that you question the upper echelons of management on both of these points. The staggering lack of awareness of the Wharton students should mean something to all of us who work for a living because a very high percentage of them will take places in the upper echelons of management. Because of their credentials, not because upper management is comprised exclusively of people who worked their way up to it. It is significant and harmful for them to be so wildly out of touch with reality.

  8. Chairman of the Bored*

    One of the things that surprises me about this is that in other contexts (such as utilities or raw materials) companies seem to understand that they have to pay what a thing costs in order to get it.

    If the price of copper goes up an electronics manufacturer doesn’t just try to keep buying copper at the old price and act *shocked* when they don’t get any copper. They recognize that they now need to pay more for copper and then do so, even if they don’t like it. That’s how business/commerce works.

    Companies seem to think that labor is not subject to the same rules of economics as the other things they buy. I think this is because they expect they have more leverage over individual employees/applicants than they do over other organizations. They might be right on a case-by-case basis, but obviously not across an entire economy.

    1. Batgirl*

      I still occasionally encounter a lot of of the “I don’t want people who are greedy” mentality with some bosses. As in, “You can live well on this salary”, or “how much do people need” etc. Almost as if they were trying to lure mill workers off a strike with enough for food and shelter because they were striking over starvation wages. The same mentality that paid women less for generations because “they aren’t providing for a family”. I truly hope the aim of paying people as little as they possible can is close to being over, and employers will go back to the drawing board with more of an idea as to what people are truly worth to a business when they can’t be leveraged with desperation any more.

      1. Nanani*

        And it’s cousin “why do YOU need a salary when your husband makes X”
        Yes its illegal, yes it still happens.

      2. Old Cynic*

        35 years ago I was paid less as an unmarried man than the married men in my department who “had families to support” even though the only married man with kids was the boss.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          There was a study of salaries that showed that (for the same jobs), unmarried women and unmarried men earned roughly the same amount. After marriage, women’s salaries increased at a much slower rate while men’s salaries zoomed upwards. Because “men have families to support and women are too busy taking care of the house/husband/kids to be good workers.” Sadly not surprised to hear you’ve experienced this firsthand.

    2. Calvin B*

      As someone who works for a steel fabrication company: customers are NOT happy about the raw materials increases. Their options are limited because there are only so many suppliers in our field (as opposed to hundred or thousands of individuals seeking jobs), but we get a lot of pushback when we can’t honor a quote from nine months ago because the cost of materials has doubled since then.

      1. MusicWithRocksIn*

        I was gonna say – I have heard a lot of complaining about steel prices this year. The difference is we need steel by Tuesday one way or another, but we can just make poor Ted in accounting do all the payables and receivables for another week while we try to figure out why we can’t get people to come interview.

      2. Chairman of the Bored*

        I’m sure your customers don’t like it, but in the end do they pay market rate for the steel component they need?

        When the cost of aviation fuel goes up airlines generally don’t just decide to get by without aviation fuel, right?

          1. Chairman of the Bored*

            If my value on the labor market goes up, I intend to make my employer pay me more.

            They’re welcome to do this by whatever mechanism they choose, to include passing my higher cost along to the customers. This may well be the best business decision – and the fact that businesses routinely do this when raw materials costs increase indicate that they *already* have options to deal with shifting costs of the things they buy.

            The important thing from my perspective is that the company pay me market rate, just like they pay their *other* suppliers market rate for stuff like paint or aluminum sheets. Just part of doing business, no need for a sob story, make with the money, etc…

        1. Asenath*

          Some businesses start finding other sources for their raw materials, where they can. This can work (although it’s hard on their previous suppliers and their employees) but like any business decision it has risks, such as the new supplier being unable to provide the quality and meet the delivery deadlines they promised. And sometimes, of course, the new supplier can undercut the old one because they pay their workers less.

      3. Just Another Zebra*

        I work for a commercial plumbing company. The prices of steel / copper / plastic have become one of my waking nightmares. Water heaters went up 27% in 2021; there’s another increase coming next month. It’s also time frames. Things cost more and take longer, and our customers hate it. I ordered a 3-bay sink for a customer in September… it’ll (finally) be here this week. And we have to pass those increases on to our customers. I can’t help they paid $2750 for a water heater last year. Now it’s almost $5k and there is nothing I can do about it.

    3. Antilles*

      That’s an interesting contrast. In many cases, I think it goes back to the fact that ordering goods is way easier to evaluate costs than for hiring labor.
      You go to buy copper, the mine tells you it’s $100 per unit and that’s that. If you say “that’s too much! this used to cost $50!”, then you go call up the other mines, they each give you their own price, and you have ink-on-paper estimates showing that yes, $100 per unit is the real price.
      But if you’re trying to hire workers, it’s not as straightforward. Where does a manager find out what the market pays? The general guidelines to either use the salary of the last guy with the role and/or your existing employee salaries. Maybe that’d be close enough in a normal labor market, but in the current hot market, it’s likely your salary scale hasn’t really kept up with the market and you don’t have a real reference for how things cost. Heck, your existing employee salaries might even be actively misleading you here, because you’re mentally comparing them with the existing employees you know and (hopefully?) like.

      1. nonprofiteer*

        That’s my sense – employers don’t want to accept this reality if it means that ALL of their employees need a raise. There are enough employees (for now) not asking for a raise that it’s possible to imagine this is temporary or fake.

      2. Nina*

        This is where widespread unionization and published collective agreements with pay scales would help everyone.

      3. Sacred Ground*

        “The general guidelines to either use the salary of the last guy with the role and/or your existing employee salaries.”

        If they’re losing people due to lower than market pay, this seems like less than effective solution.

    4. Insert Clever Name Here*

      I work for a utility, and yeah we definitely have to pay that new crazy price for transformers or coilable conduit, or experienced linemen. But then we try to go to the SCC and say “look, things are so much more expensive, can we increase rates any?” and get “nope.” So then you try to cut O&M to make costs work. It’s hard.

    5. Mantis Tobaggan, MD*

      I work in a gov’t department responsible for labour and what I’ve learned is businesses are pro free market until the cost of labour goes up – then it is solely the government’s responsbility to provide the labour at the price business is willing to pay ;)

    6. J.B.*

      Construction management has been described recently as “we’ll let you know when it’s available and price when it ships”. So you have to do hard looking at projects that can be put off.

    7. xlfoxlch*

      But if you believe the high cost of copper is temporary, you hope that next year when you need more copper, you’ll pay a more reasonable price. This doesn’t work so well with an employee you hire. I mean, I suppose you could go back to an employee & say “Last year we were super desperate, but this year we’re not, so we’re going to cut your pay by X%.” but that would result in some understandably disgruntled employees.

      I think others are correct in saying it’s a bit of a waiting game. Will desperation on the part of enough employers push them to raise wages or will desperation on the part of the unemployed tilt the scale back to where it was prepandemic when employers seemed to hold all the cards?

      I for one think it’s long past due for the scale to be tipped back the employees, but so many laws are in place to give employers the advantage, I’m not sure it’ll happen.

      1. EJ*

        I remember during the recession reading about restaurants using coupons to draw customers rather than lowering prices because it would be poorly received when it came time to raise prices again, even back to original pricing. Similar idea but on a much much larger and personal scale! Expect business and employers to try every way they can to maintain control of the narrative, ime.

    8. Sacred Ground*

      Thank you! I’ve been saying it for years, everyone understands the basics of supply and demand, everyone knows and agrees with the adage “you get what you pay for.” Somehow, when these are applied to labor, corporate America has it’s collective head in the sand.

      1. pancakes*

        After all these years you’re not willing to consider that the problem isn’t one of simple ignorance?

  9. Meep*

    Honestly, I have such a hard time feeling bad for employers in the U.S.-based job market. This is what happens when you are fifty years behind and refuse to give up your archaic practices.

    1. Coder von Frankenstein*

      I don’t feel *bad* for them. I feel annoyed, in the way that you get annoyed when you see somebody complaining about a problem which is the direct result of their own behavior and also affects other people.

  10. laowai_gaijin*

    I got COVID (omicron is cutting a swath through my community), and incidentally discovered that if you’re out for COVID quarantine, it doesn’t count against your sick days at my employer. Best damn job I ever had.

    1. EPLawyer*

      My husband’s job, according to one thing he heard (because god forbid corporate be CLEAR about this), if you have to quarantine due to covid, it may be paid or unpaid. If you have a separate area to quarantine, unpaid. if you have to share with someone who has to quarantine, so you are stuck with them, its paid. basically the size of your home decides whether its paid or unpaid. SAY WHAT???? This is manufacturing btw where they can’t social distance so you know, encouraging quarantining to avoid infecting the whole plant would seem a GOOD IDEA.

      1. Turtlewings*

        Why on earth does it make a difference whether you’re quarantined in a separate area or not??

        1. EPLawyer*

          I guess if you can quarantine separate it doesn’t count as close contact? I have no clue because like I said, GOD FORBID Corporate be clear. We just get vague emails (with everyone’s personal emails listed not even BCC) that say “Hey there was a positive test, everyone who could be affected was notified.” Except we know in AT LEAST ONE CASE, a close contact by nature of the job was NOT notified.

        2. Hlao-roo*

          My squint really hard to try to see some logic in this says:
          All people exist as a member of a couple where both people work. If you can quarantine away from your partner, your partner can still go into work and earn money, so your quarantine is unpaid. If you cannot quarantine away from your partner, your partner cannot go into their job and therefore we will pay you so you can both afford to stay home.

          Lots of terrible assumptions there. That’s the best justification I can imagine for EPLawyer’s husband’s company and it’s a very bad one.

    2. Sans Serif*

      I know someone who just had covid and had to take all his sick days for 2022 while he was recovering. If he’s sick at all the next 11 months, it’s unpaid.

  11. Observer*

    I’m so glad to read this. I’ve been thinking about this for quite a while now, and was really hoping that someone would try to surface this.

    I think that this is especially true in fields like nursing, where the pay is not the only issue – the bigger issues is the scheduling, stupid staffing patterns and constant requirements for overtime. And hospitality / food service. There there the two big issues are lack of support in dealing with difficult clients and insane scheduling. Is it surprising that people don’t want to take jobs where they have a different schedule each week (or two weeks)? Where they sometime don’t know their schedule till the beginning of the week? Even in areas with laws around this, the best case is requirement for knowing the schedule 2 weeks out. If you have ANY other commitments, this is enormously burdensome, to say the least.

    1. kiki*

      Yes! Nurses have been saying this is a problem for a long time, well before covid. But the higher-ups (who typically don’t need to work those sorts of schedules) bet that they could keep things terrible indefinitely because it was more lucrative for them to keep it like that. And it worked for a long while– long enough that some folks were convinced that “it’s just the way it has to be.” But it doesn’t have to be like that! Companies had every warning and opportunity to change this during a non-emergency, but they waited until the system literally broke to consider doing anything about it.

    2. Alexis Rosay*

      Definitely. Money may be what employers need to offer to hire, but it’s not the only thing they need to offer to keep people. When I hear people talk about what made them quit their jobs, pay is rarely the only issue. It’s often low pay + disrespect, low pay + harassment.

      I have a friend with an MA who worked at a grocery store for the last seven years. He liked it well enough and his priority was for work to take up as little headspace as possible so he could focus on his creative hobbies. He quit after the pandemic lead left him feeling dehumanized on both ends, from customers and corporate headquarters alike, even though he hazard pay left him making more than he ever had.

  12. Bookworm*

    I had a slightly different experience where it was generally more about treating people well (although from the grapevine I understand there are people who were working an additional job). Ever changing staffing (when you continue to bleed out staff it’s not exactly a confidence booster), not knowing who exactly was in charge of what project, etc. just eventually made it unbearable. Refusing to hire + staff leaving = more work for the people who stayed.

    But a lot of this still resonated: lot of problems that began before the pandemic still weren’t addressed even though it became clear we weren’t exiting the pandemic as soon as we all wanted to, etc. It’s so exhausting dealing with a workplace just simply refused to face the issues that have been causing issues for a long time. Perhaps because leadership couldn’t admit its failure in this area or that it wasn’t very good at leading.

    So I left. It had been a good experience but the pandemic showed how some places just refuse to adapt. Their loss.

  13. The OTHER Other*

    There was a recent 60 Minutes story on this, and I was disappointed (but not surprised) that they didn’t really get into the important issues such as salary, worker safety, etc and only a little bit into working from home. Employer after employer was interviewed complaining about how hard it was to hire people and over and over again I wondered “what are you PAYING?” until I was shouting at the TV. Employers were talking about 1-time bonuses, or offering classes for professional development, some offered flex-time—NONE talked about raising salaries, or making positions WFH if it wasn’t necessary to be in person.

    Employers who understand what employees really want, and what the value of a good employee is, will wind up with great employees and a competitive advantage. Businesses that fail to understand this and cling to old pay scales and old ways of doing things (long, opaque hiring processes due to inability to make decisions quickly, butts-in-seats mindset, hostility to remote work, etc) are going to wind up with substandard employees and lose competitive advantage. And they will probably remain clueless to why it’s happening and continue with their “people just don’t want to work” nonsense. They don’t want to work for YOU, for what you are offering to pay.

    For decades we’ve been hearing about how the beauty of the free market is if workers don’t like something, they can leave and work elsewhere. Well, they’re doing that.

      1. Heather*

        Why would they knowingly leave out those points? Fear of their corporate sponsors and/or parent company?

        1. pancakes*

          You seem to be taking it for granted that the lead reporters who worked on the story don’t share the views of their parent company or sponsors themselves. I would not assume that. I would assume that people who are sharply at odds with either were never in the running for those roles to start with. It’s not mere coincidence that 60 Minutes and other big-name shows don’t hire people well to the left of network bosses.

        2. Rolly*

          “Why would they knowingly leave out those points? Fear of their corporate sponsors and/or parent company?”

          A simpler answer is to assume they don’t care and/or share the same views of big corporations.

    1. Starbuck*

      “For decades we’ve been hearing about how the beauty of the free market is if workers don’t like something, they can leave and work elsewhere. Well, they’re doing that.”

      Not if that judge in Wisconsin has anything to say about it!! Even in these times, it’s easily one of the most appalling things I’ve read all month.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        I hadn’t heard about this before reading your comment and all I can say is WOW.

        For anyone else who is interested, search for “Wisconsin judge orders at-will employees to stay at jobs” or “Wisconsin judge blocks nurses from starting new jobs” and you’ll see the relevant articles.

    2. Curious*

      Yes! The market is indeed working. I find it ironic when those who defend low salaries as “competitive” (as they might have been in the past) refuse to accept the inevitable, inexorable verdict of the market now:. If workers won’t accept the wages you offer, then you need to raise them until they do. Because “competitive” wage levels aren’t what the employer decides– they are what the forces of the market decide.

      1. MsClaw*

        Agreed. Especially when you look at home many of these companies ‘struggling’ to hire had record profits, gave their CEOs giant raises, wrote big checks to shareholders, etc over 2021. But apparently if they paid people $1.50 more an hour, that would raise prices. Oddly enough, no CEO is suggesting he shouldn’t have gotten a 200% raise if they can’t afford to pay workers a living wage.

  14. Katie Porter's Whiteboard*

    I think something that gets left off of these lists is the importance of company culture. In addition to wanting more leave time, better pay, and better benefits, I want to work somewhere that I feel seen, heard, and respected. It’s especially easy these days to find out what the culture is like online or through our networks. And resources like Ask a Manager also help us read into the interview itself to know whether it’s somewhere we’d like to work. I’m starting to wonder if I’m hitting the ceiling at my current job but the culture is so great that I’m hesitant to leave so I’m focusing on growing out my skills here instead of moving on.

    1. On the Market*


      I singlehandedly led a new multi-million $$ community initiative, with no administrative support, meeting all deadlines and deliverables, and was told in my annual review that I “took too much initiative” and needed to be “more flexible.” And got a 3% COLA.

      Hence, why I am on the market.

      1. "Essential" Duties*

        I left my salary gig without anything lined up because my boss considered me as having performance issues despite raising a half-million dollars because I kept trying to look toward our next big fundraising campaign instead of being able to focus on the minutia of whatever his micromanaging hyperfixation of the week was.

        It was an ADHD nightmare, and yeah I didn’t get around to typing those dates that are already in the calendar into a word document and then a spreadsheet. It was affecting my health. Might as well take an hourly gig and freelance except… apparently I can’t even get the hourly gig because I need a stool. Rad.

        1. "Essential" Duties*

          By which I mean to say: yup. Fuck that. Get out, get something better.

          (Sorry, not trying to be a downer. I’m actually doing fine on the freelance.)

    2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      Agreed. I think there have always been highly paid positions that are hard to fill because of the bad industry culture; money alone isn’t going to cut it anymore. People are actually starting to see that there is more to life than work — and they want employers to catch on to that. I, of course, want my job to cover all my bills, but it needs to fulfill more than that!

    3. WomEngineer*

      Here here! A big red flag to me is when there are hardly any women in high-level positions. Plenty of companies are at least trying to be more inclusive, and those that aren’t are falling behind. Of course, it’s harder to fix than increasing salaries/benefits.

      1. Justin*

        Not quite the same thing, but along the same lines, a job I looked at lists their entire staff (with pics) alphabetically, and you’re like, hmm, pretty diverse. When you look at them by title, though, suddenly it’s a lot whiter and maler and you’re like, aha.

        1. kitryan*

          I am regularly scanning the ‘team’ page of company websites as part of my job is checking out prospective clients. It’s uncanny how the first row is men, 90% of the time, white 90% of the time, and how the titles match up. Companies with significant numbers of women mostly have them as associates, HR, office managers, property managers, while the men are founders/COO/CFO/CEO/development…
          It’s rather disheartening.

      2. The OTHER Other*

        Yes, all-male and all-white leadership is increasingly weird and out of touch. A prior company of mine would have large employee meetings where the VPs onstage (all white, and one woman out of about 15 people) would drone on about the importance of the diversity initiative. The cognitive disconnect was strong. The only concrete results so far as I could tell would be new posters in the break rooms. One of these days maybe they’ll go nuts and hire a Lutheran.

    4. Hippo-nony-potomus*

      Bingo. The pandemic taught people that they can’t be paid enough to be mistreated – life is too short and there are often emergencies that come up that necessitate the employer having some flexibility.

      Semi-related, I recently saw a job ad proudly touting its benefits: 3% company match into a 401k and 15 days PTO (from the description, combined sick and vacation). If you think those are good benefits, I’m not even going to waste time clicking “Easy Apply” on LinkedIn; I already know that your heads are so far away from your shoulders that working for you would be a constant battle.

    5. generic_username*

      Same. I’ve been in an incredibly stagnant and underpaid role for a while now, but I love my coworkers and manager so I never can quite get myself to apply elsewhere to move on. I’m reaching a point now though where I’m thinking about starting a family and am not sure I want to deal with the small maternity leave we’re offered (despite our otherwise very generous vacation and sick time benefits, weirdly enough) so I think I’m finally going to bite the bullet and move on.

    6. CatCat*

      I want to work somewhere that I feel seen, heard, and respected

      Yup. Me too. I don’t feel like I have that. So I am looking. And am even willing to take a pay cut for it.

      Meanwhile, they’ve had a devil of a time filling open positions.

    7. Xenia*

      Here’s the first thing I think about when I think of my company: they don’t nickel and dime. You can fly Alaska instead of a budget airline, or stay at a slightly nicer hotel while traveling. They ship monitors out to you rather than requiring you to get them first. Expense reports are approved fast and the expense team is responsive if there’s an issue.

      It’s such a little thing in context—probably costs them maybe an extra .02% of salaries every year, at most. But not having to beg for the resources I need to do my job has had such a positive impact.

      The Guacamole Bobs of the working world in all locations from the C suite down are one reason people are leaving, because they realize there isn’t enough money in the world to deal with their pettiness. Get rid of your Guacamole Bobs and you will keep people better.

  15. On the Market*

    I’m currently job-searching. I’m in a (lucky?) position to be mostly-happily employed but searching for something that is more aligned with my plans for professional growth. I know that puts me in a position of privilege.

    What I’m seeing in about 75% of my interviews is still very much an old-school “impress us, you plebe” attitude. I pretty much write those orgs. off.

  16. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

    desperate to find good employees but can’t lure them at any price
    Except more wages.
    Employers think they an do what they have done for two generations, lowball and get away with it.
    The tides are turning.

    1. StellaBella*

      I hope so. I sincerely hope that we are going to be able to have more workers’ rights, leverage, better pay, better leave plans, etc sooner rather than later.

      1. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

        Also this is not a foregone conclusion, if things go back to where they were (or worse) then this moment will have been fleeting.

        1. Sloan Kittering*

          Yeah I’d love to believe it’s for real but it could just as easily be a bubble – I don’t know how long the trend would have to last for it to stick. At some point presumably a lot of people will be locked in new better-paying jobs with better benefits and then it will be more durable, but I dunno …

    2. Selina Luna*

      I would honestly accept a lower wage if I had a guarantee of 40 hours of work per week, not just 40 hours of teaching and then however long it takes me to grade, plan, and research. Right now, my commute is slowly killing me, so I might also accept a slightly lower wage for a significantly shorter commute, though I’m working to fix the commuting issue without lowering my wage. Unfortunately, I can’t afford to teach where I live currently because the wage isn’t a little lower; it’s 40% lower than where I’m currently working.

  17. "Essential" Duties*

    I left my salary gig and interviewed for a hospitality role that I’m theoretically overqualified for. I explained that I desperately missed interacting with people and was looking something hourly to supplement my intellectually demanding creative work and had no plans to bounce quickly. I was happy with the starting pay and benefits.

    The HR and operations directors both seemed to totally get it, and totally love me.

    Then I mentioned I might need a stool instead of standing still for 10 hours at a time, with a doctor’s note of course. I wasn’t actually asking if they’d follow the bare minimum of the law. This was a corporate location of a major hotel chain, and one reasonably well-reviewed by employees. I was actually checking to see if they’d be jerks about it.

    The HR director said “well sure, we’d make a reasonable accommodation. We’re legally required to…. but are you sure this is the right job for you?”

    I passionately explained that I was fine to run around as the job required it, and that standing was hardly the point of the job, right? The role was about ensuring an amazing guest experience which I’m absolutely passionate about. I saw absolutely no conflict between that and the ability to occasionally rest on a stool while performing the same work. I provided examples in prior roles where I’d done just that. The operations director seemed absolutely on board. The HR director seemed less convinced.

    I did not get the job. Funny that.

    1. "Essential" Duties*

      And, if it’s not clear, this is in an industry and role that’s making headlines for its “labor shortage.”

    2. kiki*

      The insistence on standing behind a desk rather than sitting in customer service roles in the US continues to blow my mind! Who are the people who care??

      1. Meep*

        I do. I want to know if the employee is shorter or taller than me, if I approach. Otherwise how else will I be able to lord my height over women and know if a man is worth my time? -flips hair and checks nails-


      2. Dittany*

        If employees of a certain class are comfortable at any point while they’re on the clock, the communists win. Or something.

      3. Lady_Lessa*

        That’s one reason I like shopping at Aldi’s. Their cashiers all sit on the job. The fact that they don’t have to bag probably helps them be fast as well. (I tend to be slightly embarrassed by the fact that by the time I finish unloading my cart, it’s time for me to pay. I prefer to have my card/cash out in advance as to not delay the person behind me.

      4. John Locke*

        This sort of thing killed a friend of mine’s mother. She was a smoker and diabetic, was going fine for a while till her foot started to hurt, she was working as a cashier at an office supply store, and they could not get her a chair, so they’d just send her home to “heal” which doesn’t work cause she needed money to pay rent so she’d just come back and… it didn’t end well. (I was working at this store at the time so I saw it from both ends really)

      5. AdequateArchaeologist*

        It’s because the customer/management needs to make sure you know you’re not human and therefore not worthy of comforts like sitting. (I also somewhat wonder if it’s a race related hold over in addition to being about class?)

        1. Your Local Password Resetter*

          Class is a major component of race discrimination, so they’re probably connected.

      6. Jessie Spano*

        this kind of thing is why I left my side gig at Michaels. the district/regional manager/whatever his title was decreed that the cashiers couldn’t have water bottles at their stations anymore. because the water bottles were offending the customers (he said). if we wanted to drink water, we should do it on our breaks. I said I would be keeping my water bottle at my station and put in my 2 week notice.

          1. Jessie Spano*

            right?! I always assumed that no one was actually complaining about this, he just had these ridiculous ideas how we could further kiss the customers’ ass. It’s just water, Greg…

        1. Tayto*

          Jesus Christ. Some people could do with being offended if they are that delicate.

          And I honestly don’t believe that there are a substantial amount of people who would be offended by that, but rather a tiny vocal minority. I am more inclined to believe that management are AFRAID that there are a substantial amount of people who are offended by it.

    3. Syl*

      I highly recommend asking for accommodations *after* you have accepted the job. I’m disabled and never mention it until I have started a job somewhere.

      1. Starbuck*

        Yes, same. I definitely get wanting to weed out crappy places ahead of time, that’s a valid tactic, but for me – they simply do not need to know that info until I’m hired, because of course they’re not going to base their hiring decision on that sort of information, right? Right.

      2. My hotel uniform included HEELS, y’all*

        In hospitality, they will just fire you once they find out. They will just will just point to a job ad and /or orientation packet that says “must stand for 8 hr shift” and legally have their ass covered.

  18. Sans Serif*

    The same people complaining about a worker shortage are the people who would say, stop complaining about being a waitress/cashier/etc. and get a better job. Well, people went out and got better jobs.
    The same people who go on about “the free market determines salary” don’t like it so much when the market started determining a higher salary than they wanted to pay.
    The same people who look down on McDonald’s employees get awfully upset if their local McDonald’s has shorter hours because they don’t have enough employees.
    Shoe. Other foot. Tables. Turned. Deal with it.

  19. AnonInCanada*

    Or you can do what that health service provider in Wisconsin did – have a judge order former staff who quit their old boss to not be allowed to work for their new one. Like WTF? >:-{ (I’ll put a link in a comment below to avoid this from going to moderation.)

      1. AnonInCanada*

        And one who spent more than one occasion stepping his foot in a pile of dog crap and having a hard time cleaning it out!

      2. pancakes*

        The judge has an interesting history. He was removed from truancy court in 2018. From a 2018 article I’ll link in a separate reply:

        “The attorney who reviewed the truancy court held in the Appleton Area School District recommended Thursday evening that the district request that Outagamie County Judge Mark McGinnis no longer be part of the court.

        ‘I know that there have been a number of students whose attendance has improved while in truancy court,’ attorney Duane McCrary said at a packed meeting of the district’s Board of Education. ‘For some students, however, their experience has not been positive but one that has been somewhat traumatic due to how they were treated by Judge McGinnis.’

        McGinnis’ hearings have a negative undertone, McCrary said. He has called students ‘stupid’ and gotten ‘intensely angry at them, which does not improve their attendance.’ Instead, parents and students are left angry and often afraid of retaliation. . . . McCrary said the judge also pushed and prodded students and called them names. He has threatened them with sanctions like shelter care and electronic monitoring, ‘even after being told by the Court of Appeals that he lacks statutory authority to impose electronic monitoring.’”

      3. Curious*

        Well, yes, but its easy to see how this played out: ThedaCare, the plaintiff, lost an entire practice group. They brought suit, claiming that losing the practice group would harm the health, and potentially cost the lives, of some of the folks they wouldn’t be able to treat. Judge issues injunction — which is not based on legal support — requiring Ascension — new employer and defendant — to either lend ThedaCare some of the employees back, or to not hire them. Judge lifts (that is, withdraws) the restraining order a few days later (permitting the employees to start working for Ascension).
        Now — here’s where I’m speculating — the judge probably got scared by ThedaCare’s claims of harm to patients and issued the restraining order (without any discernable legal basis). Then, when he had a chance to think about it, and perhaps read more of the arguments from Ascension’s lawyers, he realized that he [messed] up and lifted the injunction.
        In other words, the basis of the initial order was more likely “save the patients” than “save the employer.” And — while a competent judge wouldn’t have issued the order in the first place — he did fix it in a few days.

        1. pancakes*

          You seem to be much more at ease with the notion of judges making profoundly ignorant and ill-conceived decisions on the basis of fear than I am. Fixing it “in a few days” doesn’t make this ok.

    1. Dr. Rebecca*

      Alison highlighted this on twitter the other day; I anticipate there being a post on it once she picks her jaw up off the floor.

      1. Starbuck*

        I’m struggling to imagine what possible legal basis the judge is basing that decision on. I would have thought a (grossly misinterpreted) non-compete clause, but there’s nothing like that mentioned in any of the reporting so I just don’t…. know…. the mind boggles.

        1. Mimi*

          As far as I can tell the argument is “public health,” but I don’t understand how removing healthcare workers from the pool of available employees (possibly permanently, at least in that area, since who wants to get in a legal fight with their old employer) is supposed to support that aim.

          Also I don’t think that even public health should require an at-will worker to stay at a job if they have a better offer elsewhere.

          1. AdequateArchaeologist*

            Oooh. Now I’m curious how this is going to play out with the “at-will” portion of our employment laws. Can’t have it both ways!

        2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

          I’m assuming “peril to public safety” or something similar to what Regan did to air traffic controllers, or why police, firefighters, etc. can’t go on strike… It’s a real stretch because there are obviously other health care facilities that can provide those services…unlike police/firefighters etc.

          1. Observer*

            Yes, but in those cases, the employers were not private entities. AND people were not being forced to stay on the job. They were forbidden from striking. It they had all quite en masse, that would have been the end of it.

      2. AnonInCanada*

        That’s exactly how I found out about this absurdity. Methinks that judge has to take a gander over at the Constitution before barking orders like this one.

    2. introverted af*

      God, that story makes my blood boil more than anything. I get that healthcare has some specific stuff that’s different when people’s lives are literally in your care, but this is not the same. At all.

    3. Mr. Cajun2core*

      I am curious. Will the employees be arrested/fined if they do leave? What about if they leave for another job besides Ascension?

      1. Mimi*

        As I understand it, they’ve left already (aren’t working) but can’t start the Ascension job. There are so many other employers in the area, and this legal fight is turning it into a situation that nobody is going to want to touch with a 1-ft pole, making these ex-employees unemployed and unhireable, at least locally.

      2. Starbuck*

        I think it’s really more like legal action against the new employer to prevent them from starting the new jobs. Who knows what they’re try to do if the employees were trying to start at a different, third place.

    4. Grits McGee*

      It’s like the Peasants Revolt of 1381 all over again- “Serfs you were and serfs you are…”

    5. Public Sector Manager*

      Per that article, it looks like it was just a temporary injunction while the case is pending and not the final decision.

    6. Texan In Exile*

      Part of the concern was the distance to Green Bay for additional ER/ICU care.

      And to that I would say, Perhaps the residents of Outagamie County (where this is happening) could consider getting vaccinated and thus help reduce the load of covid care that their hospitals are facing now.

  20. awesome3*

    That was also my biggest take away from the comments on that post, that yes employers are desperate for workers, but only in select fields are they changing anything about the job or how much it pays. Instead the roles remain vacant, other people are having to shoulder that work, then they become over burdened and leave…

    I’m leaving my job and I don’t think I’ll find an hourly rate higher than what I make now, it’ll be matching at the very most.

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      Yep, after our discussion on that post I came away thinking that there are a few fields where the job market really is excellent, but it’s the usual suspects – tech stuff mostly – and that most of the places desperate to hire were 1) either in health care or other frontline jobs 2) not necessarily increasing salaries and benefits. It doesn’t really reach me in my field except there are more vacant positions and more stretching of the remaining employees.

  21. korangeen*

    I’m glad overall the tide is shifting and workers are having more power in their job searches. Unfortunately in my little niche industry, things seem to keep getting more saturated. I’ve been searching for a new job for over two years now (started applying for jobs a few months before the pandemic) and, despite trying all the tips and everything I can think of, haven’t made much headway. Like, a recent job I applied for that seemed exciting, I thought I was pretty well-qualified, wrote a nice cover letter, and provided a bunch of relevant work samples. But now I see on Indeed that over a hundred people have applied for this gig, and I’m sure plenty of them are super well-qualified, and I just can’t compete with that. So I doubt I’ll hear back. Maybe I should try to pivot, but pivot to what? What is there that uses my skills but isn’t already overly saturated with talented people? If I pivot to a less niche industry, there’s just going to be even more people. I don’t know. It’s definitely been a struggle. I hate having to compete and trying to pitch myself.

      1. BalanceofThemis*

        It’s high, but some museum positions can get around that. There just aren’t enough jobs for everyone who wants to go into the field, and it’s getting worse with people leaving academia.

        1. Starbuck*

          Yes, my similar non-profit field is lagging on improving things for staff, for all the reasons that non-profits tend to suck at adequately compensating people. Really I’m less mad at the non-profits themselves and more at the surrounding society that doesn’t seem to be willing to value the work done by creating a stable funding stream for it.

      2. GigglyPuff*

        I’m in archives/libraries and last year on a hiring committee for essentially an entry level (post master’s) government job. HR sent the hiring manager over 75 applications. Can’t imagine how many they actually received and weeded out. And we’re in a HCOL with almost extremely disproportionate low pay.

      3. Gumby*

        When I worked at an internet company in the early-2000s 100 applicants for one position was normal if not on the low side. To be fair, they were not necessarily 100 well-qualified applicants and some had clearly not read the job description at all. (And I only saw the resumes after HR had culled them so the fact that some people were less of a fit boggles the mind. Yes, my manager did verify from time to time that the culling process was effective/reasonable/not being screwed up.) This was both before and after the dot com bust. We were not one of the huge super well-known websites either.

      4. korangeen*

        Science communication/media. More and more people are getting interested in scicomm, which, great for the world, not so great for me.

        1. Green Beans*

          Huh. I’m in scicomm (biomedical) and I just finished a job search where I got very fast responses to every job I applied to save one, and moved on to the interview process with all of them.

          To be fair, I have a very niche set of qualifications and that makes a huge difference when applying. For my current job, I think I was the only person they interviewed and I didn’t even apply until it had been open for a month.

          1. Green Beans*

            I should say, I also job hunted for just under a year, mostly because I was very, very picky about what I applied to – I didn’t even hit the double digits of job applications after ten months.

          2. korangeen*

            Congrats! I’m jealous. About 60% of the 100+ positions I’ve applied for over the past couple years didn’t respond at all, so presumably they’re so inundated with applications that they don’t have time to send rejections. And out of the 20 interviews I’ve had so far, 7 never followed up with a rejection, which.. come on now. I’ve only received any sort of feedback with a rejection once, and in that particular case they said they wanted someone with more management experience. (But they didn’t ask me about management experience during the interview, or indicate in the job description that it involved management. I’ve managed large groups of people and complex projects in volunteer settings, but oh well.) It’s hard not to come to the conclusion that I just suck and am unemployable. But I try to remind myself that past managers and co-workers have really good things to say about me, and I’ve done a lot of good work over my career. It’s just.. I dunno. I’ll find something that fits eventually. I hope.

            1. Green Beans*

              You’re definitely not sucky and unemployable – my point was honestly just that even within one field it can vary a lot (sorry if it came off jerky)!!

              I also wasn’t kidding about being super niche – I honestly doubt I could find 50 jobs I was really qualified for in a year, even with a national or even international search. Maybe 25, if I expanded my search to USA, Canada, UK, and Australia. (And I did get completely ghosted by one job because my salary requirements were $5k over their cap.)

              I hope things turn around for you soon – we need experienced scicomm people now more than ever.

      5. Narvo Flieboppen*

        Some of the roles I’ve looked for myself number 250-300 applicants. I work in accounting and there are plenty of us out there looking for something better and with remote work.

    1. Pascall*

      Is there an additional or tangential skill that you can learn that may make you stand out a little more against the competition? I generally try to branch out and learn things that may not be super laser targeted on what I do but may be worth something to a potential employer.

      I’m sure it depends on your industry, but it may help to consider, if you can.

    2. Cold Fish*

      Similar. Started looking before COVID. Although, in my case, I’ve been doing it very casually since COVID officially hit. I would like to branch out from my unique (and small) industry, I have a lot of cross-over experience but not a lot of actual experience if you look at expanded job opportunities in the position I’m in now. Combined with a desire to maybe do something completely different but needing to make at least what I’m making now. I haven’t had any luck.

      I agree with others, that along with wages, a complicating factor is the unicorn job descriptions. I really don’t feel bad for the employers (looking for 10-15 years experience with knowledge of some obscure computer program they use, have at least a bachelors degree and offering $25-35K a year) when they can’t find any “qualified” applicants.

  22. Xaraja*

    I work for a company that’s doing pretty good on bringing people in, and had good pay and benefits, but HR is kind of slow. We’ve been waiting for months for them to post a position we need filled in the IT department. I accepted a move to a newly created position and they are creating a junior position to take on some of my previous role, so it’s a bit harder than just putting up my old role, but still. Months.

    1. Sara without an H*

      This. I served on a search committee for a library at a state university some years ago. We calculated that, from start to finish, the process for hiring a new librarian would take nine months. And that was assuming everything went right.

      Nine months. The bad jokes flew thick and fast.

  23. Sloan Kittering*

    Can I just say I think it’s interesting that the slate commentators seem fairly respectful of Alison’s pieces, which is incredible, because they can be super nasty and OT on other articles (although there’s a few reliables there). And yes, I always read comments.

    1. Coder von Frankenstein*

      That may be because Alison’s pieces are well-reasoned, well-written, and thoughtful. Which is not usual for Slate.

      There’s a reason the #slatepitch hashtag was invented.

  24. Nea*

    It’s important to point out that it’s not just wages. I wouldn’t take any amount of money if it meant no vacation, or constant overtime, or a whole host of other unpleasant working conditions.

    Many employers think they can treat their employees like cattle; not just lowballing their salaries, but ignoring the fact that they’re humans with human needs and interests outside their jobs. Like the LWs who thinks that it’s absolutely OK to discriminate against the Leap Year birthday 3 years out of 4, or that it’s disrespectful for an employee to forcefully point out that they need to be paid in full on time, or that the business needs someone handling calls, so nope, you can’t go to your own college graduation.

    The Great Resignation isn’t just employees making it clear that their time is valuable and requires more cash, it’s employees making it clear that THEY are valuable and need to be treated as such.

    1. WomEngineer*

      I might be willing to compromise on it was my absolute dream job. But if it’s just “okay” with no insurance or relocation (in a high COL area), then forget it.

  25. Gnome*

    I think there are a variety of industries that get hit with things that make it hard to raise wages. We heard from a few doctors, but there are also government contractors and low-margin industries. Sometimes it takes a while for changes to work through the economy. The more freedom the system has, the faster it can change (the doctors were tied to insurance, contractors to the government).

  26. H.Regalis*

    The reason I got hired at my current job is because they were so desperate for people that they started hiring legit entry level, i.e. “No experience necessary! We’ll train you!” after they had multiple failed job searches. My job is effectively an apprenticeship. Good for me, because I didn’t have to go back to school to switch fields.

    Current job is still trying to add one more person in my position. They have had at least six failed job searches that I know of. It’s a very niche thing that few people have experience with, and while the pay for entry level is good, it’s not as good for higher levels; so there aren’t a lot of experienced people out there to begin with, and the few there are can make way more money at other places. They can’t easily raise the wages (government) so their only viable option is to train people up.

  27. OOOO*

    I ran into this myself recently and turned a job offer down because of it. The position was a step above entry level, but the salary came out to about $18/hr. They liked me so much they ended up offering me $22/hr (and it sounded like they had to get special HR clearance to do so), but the problem is that the building was in a very HCOL area (downtown of a major city) and they wanted me to be in-office a minimum of 4 days per week. So my options were to spend 1.5 hr on a roundtrip commute every day from my current place… or get my mom to co-sign an apartment for me in the city because every apartment in my area requires proof that your income is more than 3x the rent. I really like the job and the people, but it just wasn’t worth it.

  28. Syl*

    I’ve interviewed for several jobs as a scientist. I have 13 years of experience doing cell biology, chemistry, molecular biology, etc.

    A lot of companies will reject me if I meet 80-90% of the requirements, stating “Well you don’t have enough experience with this *particular* type of virus” even though I have worked with several types of viruses over the course of my career.

    Then they repost the job the next week, and the next week, for months.

    I don’t know if they are lying with the rejection or if they really want someone who meets 100% of the requirements? It’s so odd and strange to me. Any ideas on why this is happening?

    1. kiki*

      It could be a white lie to cover for some other reason they don’t want to share, but a lot of companies have gotten used such surplus of over-qualified workers (due to the recession) that they have forgotten that training is a really normal part of the hiring and onboarding process, even for relatively senior employees. It’s unlikely any job is going to be able to hire someone who did this exact job in this exact field and has all the necessary background information, but a lot of people love the idea of somebody who can “hit the ground running.” Or they’ve gotten themselves into a bind where they *need* somebody who doesn’t need training because nobody is left to train them.

      1. AdequateArchaeologist*

        This always confuses me because yeah, you my have to train someone a bit, but they won’t come with any pre-ingrained bad habits! You have a blank slate to work with!

        1. Cold Fish*

          It’s always confused me because I’m the type to think EVERY job needs some training because EVERY company does things a little differently. You can’t hire someone flipping burgers at McDonalds to take a job at Burger King without some on-boarding required. Different company, different processes. Burger King is going to be in trouble if they will only hire people with “flame-grilling” experience to flip their burgers.

          1. kiki*

            It’s confusing because it is silly! Maybe not as dramatically silly as Burger King specifically seeking out flame-grilling experience, lol, but I’ve heard so many managers gripe about new or entry-level employees not knowing how to do X skill that is actually a normal thing to train employees on, like using their specifically weird phone system or using a niche software.

    2. NeedRain47*

      Apparently their priority is that *particular* type of virus and not the other 80% of the qualifications.

    3. Generic Name*

      That’s annoying. Hopefully they’re not asking for 5 years of experience studying COVID-19. :p

    4. Forkeater*

      I feel I’m in a similar spot. What you have three years experience tableau but none in power bi? Forget it.

      1. On the Market*

        Me, too. I’ve used SPSS in the past, but talk more fluently about Tableau now. Of course I can use SPSS. But employers seem to think that if I’m not using it TODAY for the exact data set they are using, that my skills aren’t transferable. So stupid.

    5. irene adler*

      Long shot: who is doing the rejecting- HR or the actual hiring manager?

      Could it be that the HR person has no understanding that similar techniques work with virus1 as with virus2. They are told find someone with experience with “virus1” and that’s what they look for. Hiring manager doesn’t realize that HR has no concept that experience with viruses is the necessary criteria here.

      1. Lynn Whitehat*

        I work in tech, and this kind of thing happens *all* the time. Or they don’t know generic terms vs product names (e.g. being told to find someone with experience in “databases”, but they don’t know that MySQL, OracleDB, and Aurora are types of databases). And they won’t ask for some reason? It’s a mess, and I don’t understand why they don’t seem more motivated to fix it.

    6. Cedrus Libani*

      I’ve seen that too, and it’s ferociously short-sighted. Fine, if you’ve got 500 applicants, might as well pick the one who’s got the specific experience you need right this minute. Maybe you’re working on COVID-19, so you ignore the qualified applicants who’ve worked on colds and flus, eventually hiring the first warm body you come across with coronavirus-specific experience. But inevitably, it’s a few months later, the world is getting thumped by ZIKA-22, and those oh-so-critical skills are completely irrelevant…

      IME, the half-life of specific methods in R&D is short, maybe a few months. The sensible thing is to hire the best scientist you can get, someone who will quickly figure out today’s methods and also tomorrow’s new methods. But that is not a universally held position – as this generalist has discovered.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I HATE this. It’s so annoying. It’s like people forgot transferable skills exist.

      It’s like with software. Every job I’ve ever had used different stuff. Dude, if I can teach myself how to EDIT VIDEO, then I can handle working in your CRM system. Just take a little time to train me.

      I just want to scream at people sometimes.

  29. Lanlan*

    I somehow feel like I landed the last good position in my city, because around every corner is something new and awesome about this place. They knew what they needed to do to attract people and I’m one of four new hires in the last three months (the fourth hasn’t started yet but I’m looking forward to meeting them). Whatever they’re doing, it’s working. Incidentally, HR responsibilities fall under the purview of our Operations Manager, so the left hand doesn’t have to check to see what the right hand is doing — they can make realistic offers for what is necessary in terms of skillset and experience. Kind of brilliant if you ask me.

  30. Ana Gram*

    The inability of employers to get out of their own way blows my mind sometimes. I hire public safety and we have a steady stream of people coming from a nearby agency. They pay well (we pay a bit more but not shockingly so) and have comparable benefits and exactly the same schedule with one glaring exception. They rotate employees between day shift and night shift every 2 weeks. Obviously, people hate it and leave and we scoop them up.

    We’ve told them repeatedly over the last couple years that that is why people are leaving. Every single person we’ve hired from there has mentioned it as a reason for leaving.

    Have they changed it? Nope. So we’ll continue to hire their employees and they’ll continue to complain, I guess. It’s such a simple fix.

    1. urguncle*

      That rotating between day and night shifts is not just brutal on planning and scheduling, it’s terrible for their worker’s mental and physical health.

      1. Ana Gram*

        Absolutely. It’s unsafe first and inconvenient second. It’s wild to me that they even do it. It’s fairly rare to hear of in my region in this day and age.

        1. Quickbeam*

          I was a full time night shift nurse. I lived my life around it. I’d pick up extra shifts. But rotate? No way. It’s very hard on the body and the patients suffer from having half dead caregivers.

    2. Governmint Condition*

      In my city, positions that are needed around-the-clock, such as police officer, firefighter, etc. work the same way. Thing is, this is the system that their union negotiated and that they say they want. Whether the actual members want this is hard to tell; the union’s management shoots down all complaints from members.

    3. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

      A friend of mine once had a job where she rotated between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd shifts every few weeks. It was brutal.

    4. Observer*

      They rotate employees between day shift and night shift every 2 weeks. Obviously, people hate it and leave and we scoop them up.
      It’s such a simple fix.

      So it would seem. But recently here someone mentioned creating a schedule like this in the name of equity. This way no one winds up with a “worse” schedule. That seems to be more important than the fact that this insures that NO ONE gets a decent schedule.

      1. Ana Gram*

        I’m skeptical that it creates equity. I guess if everyone is equally unhappy, that’s equity ;)

        Plenty of people enjoy working nights or eves and jump on the chance to stay on night shifts. Folks I was hired with 18 years ago have spent their entire career on night shifts because that’s what works for their internal clock. Personally, I’m up at 5:30am with or without an alarm clock. But that’s many folks’ version of hell.

        Not everyone will be happy on permanent shifts but I guarantee no one is happy with rotating shifts.

      2. Nanani*

        It’s absurd to me that they can arrive at making everyone miserable, but not at … letting the night-owls have all-night shifts? Some people really do prefer to work nights, hire those people and give them all night shifts.
        It seems so obvious??

      3. Elenna*

        Some people like night shift though! If my job were one where a night shift existed, I would be absolutely down to do night shift, I’m a night owl anyways.

        Rotating shifts all the time, on the other hand? Hahahahahaha no.

    5. Narvo Flieboppen*

      I worked at a paper mill for a period of time. The rotating shifts were morning, mid (splits morning and nights), and then nights. You worked 7 days in a row, had one day off, then rotated from nights, to mid, to morning WEEKLY. It was torturous and one of the main reasons I couldn’t stick it out too long.

      While I was there, they had a mandatory meeting with some specialists about working on rotating shifts. 1st priority, per the experts, was to work 2 or more weeks on the same schedule. Management was called out on the weekly changes and specified it was ‘impossible’ to change because the machines had to run 24/7. Next suggestion was long breaks between shift changes (not the aforementioned 1 day), which was also ‘impossible’ according the management when asked about it on the spot. The expert speakers ended the meeting early because of management’s inability to admit the problem was not with the workers.

  31. Rage against the copy machine*

    A big thing not addressed in the article is the number of jobs posted that are fake, or bait and switch. I’ve resorted to donating plasma to buy groceries because many of us who are trying to leave the retail/restaurant industry can’t get out but ALSO can’t get a job IN the industry.

    Where are the real jobs? I’ve been applying daily since I got “laid off” for not being able to work the new schedule my last job gave me with only 24 hours notice to switch to that schedule. (Special needs kid with lots of appointments already scheduled. Was literally unable to change my schedule with only 24 hours notice.)

    Fast food: “we’re desperately hiring!” I apply and get set up with an interview. Take bus to interview, show up early, and the hiring manager suddenly can’t interview me that day and wants me to come back 4 or 5 days later to “try again”. This has now happened multiple times. Not one of those times was the store so busy that the manager could plausibly say they didn’t have time. The first one, manager sat in the office playing Candy crush for the whole 40 minutes I sat there waiting on her, then filling out the paper app because my resume and online app wasn’t enough, then being told she couldn’t interview me because she had to go to the bank. Second one, the manager shouted rudely at a teenager to tell me to come back another day she didn’t have time. I was standing right there and the manager couldn’t even be bothered to speak directly to me.

    Third time, they called me five MONTHS after I applied and I was working at my previous job by then. The manager said she hadn’t had time to go through applications until just then. You had zero time in five months? Maybe you’d have more time if you HIRED people. Then last week I filled out an application on Indeed. The manager emailed me back same day, but hours later at almost 8pm. So I wasn’t checking my emails that late. I got the email the next day and they wanted me to come in that afternoon for an interview. Even if I had seen the email the night before, it would have been less then 12 hours notice. I need more time then that to get ready for an interview. Also, the time she wanted me to come in ended up being in the middle of some of the heaviest snowfall this past week, and buses were delayed so it would have not worked out well if I had accepted. BUT I did respond to her email as soon as I read it, very politely with several days and times this week I could come in. I’ve heard nothing back. Even with a follow up email 2 days after the first one I sent. ‍♀️

    I’ve applied for retail. I’ve been turned down for every single retail job I applied for without even an interview. They are SOOOO short staffed, but I get canned responses that they are moving forward with other candidates at this time. Some have included I don’t have enough experience in customer service. (I have 7 years experience in the restaurant industry, 5 of those in management. How is that not enough customer service experience?)

    I’ve applied for many WFH jobs that are “urgently hiring multiple applicants”. I have 5 months WFH experience, did my entire college degree online from home, can type over 50 WPM on a bad day and 67 WPM on a good day. But I still try to apply for WFH jobs that clearly state “no experience needed” “entry level, great for students or those with resume gaps!” or “full paid training provided!” I’ve still been turned down for every single one that bothers to get back to me, and the reason every single time a reason is even given is that I don’t have enough experience. For the job that advertises no experience necessary.

    Let’s not forget the bait and switch jobs, that say one amount as the starting wage in the job listing, but then tell you a much lower wage if you even get a phone call or email response. Or the advertised full time positions that are actually only 15 hours a week with the POSSIBILITY of full time hours EVENTUALLY. Or the jobs that are saying they need first shift but then tell you there is no set shift and you have to work at least one night per week. Or the jobs that want 24/7 availability for low wages, no benefits, part time work.

    I’ve had my resume polished by a professional. I have a business degree. I can type. I have Microsoft experience. I have management experience. I have customer service experience, call center experience, hell my last job was working for the government processing applications for emergency Covid assistance. Yet all these jobs so desperate for anyone to show up won’t even give me the time of day.

    1. The Dogman*

      I’m sorry that is happening to you, that’s awful!

      All the best on the job search, I hope you get something that suits you soon.

      1. Rage against the copy machine*

        Thank you. I’m in tears daily. Donating plasma is barely covering groceries. Bills are unpaid, house payment is unpaid, we’re low on household supplies, I’m feeding our cats once a day right now to ration their food, the food pantry by us only provides a 3 day supply once a week so we’re truly at rock bottom.

    2. introverted af*

      Oh man, you know what thought just occurred to me? Are employers like this trying to keep their PPP loan subsidized, so they’re “hiring” and pocketing the money? Like, essentially the inverse of the claim that people apply for jobs they don’t actually intend to give a fair shake to so they can stay on welfare?

      Is this a thing? I almost hope it is just for the irony

      1. Rage against the copy machine*

        I’m pretty sure this is a huge thing that is flying mostly under the radar. I have many friends going through similar and seeing a lot of people going through this on Reddit and Facebook and Twitter as well.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Would not surprise me in the least.

        Anyone who misused the PPP loan system should be pilloried and whipped with a cat-o-nine-tails. And then dumped in a shark tank.

    3. New Job So Much Better*

      Rage, have you applied to any mortgage companies? You sound perfect for my industry.

      1. Rage against the copy machine*

        No real estate license and no experience in real estate. I’m not even qualified to work in a leasing office of a small apartment building according to all the job postings I’m finding. Must have 5 years leasing office experience, must have prior real estate experience, must be willing to pass XXXX exam within 60 days of start, must have minimum of 3 years office or receptionist experience… I spend hours a day looking at job postings and the requirements for even restaurant jobs are shocking.

        1. Fran Fine*

          You don’t need a real estate license or real estate experience to work in the mortgage industry.

    4. Aphrodite*

      Do you have a Trader Joe’s near you? They hire fast, they can work around your schedule, and they promote from within.

      1. Aphrodite*

        I’d like to have Chewy send you some good cat food. And would a gift card to your local grocery store help?

        Alison, can you put us in touch with each other?

      2. Rage against the copy machine*

        I do. The trader Joe’s by me requires degrees in hospitality according to their online application. Which you can’t Even fill out unless you meet certain requirements. I wish I was exaggerating.

        1. Aphrodite*

          That doesn’t make sense to me. TJ’s is is a corporation and runs its stores all the same. They hire a lot of college students so. it’s easy. to. get in, at least. in California. Go in person to the store(s) by you and talk to one of the managers on duty. You don’t need experience to work as a cashier and/or stocker there. The pay isn’t bad (though it’s not great either) and it takes a year to get benefits but it is immediate work.

      1. Name Under Development*

        My employer has several openings but ( fair warning) our pay is low and staff has to be in the office 50% of the time. Benefits are pretty standard. Some good people on staff and the work is satisfying. We would definitely hire a person with relevant experience ( grant writing or adult education) no bait and switch. So If Rage is anywhere near SE PA then let me know.

    5. anon for this*

      Try Cargill – we make/sell food ingredients. Business degree, food industry experience, management experience, customer service experience can all leverage well here. Above average pay and benefits in my experience. 100+ new job openings a day.

    6. Louise B*

      I’m having a similar experience. I applied for a position the other day that emphasized training and thought “oh great I have a lot of restaurant and customer service experience so they will teach the rest on the job” only to be rejected for not already having multiple years of experience, which was not a requirement in the ad.

      I also applied for a Llama Grooming and Farm Animals Internship. I had a phone screen where I emphasized my specialty in Llama Grooming, plus the only thing on my resume was Llama Grooming. So then they sent me AN HOUR AND A HALF of assessments, including personality tests and SAT type timed math problems. The interview was scheduled for 11:00 am the next day, but when I arrive the front desk has zero idea who I am and it’s eventually discovered that my interview was rescheduled for 4:00. During the interview, it’s revealed that this is not a Llama Grooming and Farm Animals Internship, it’s a Farm Animals with little to no involvement with the Llama Department. And Farm Animals means exclusively Horses. Then I’m shunted over to Chickens, where they interview me for a full time Chickens position. When I express no background in Chickens but a lot of interest, she offers me the ‘friendly advice’ to focus on Llama positions. Which I did! You called me, Chicken lady!

      Who benefits here?? Who wastes more than a day of my time to chide me for applying for a job I never applied for??

      It’s been like this for months. It’s made me legitimately grateful that only required a cover letter and resume, scheduled the interview after I’d passed the phone screen, interviewed me at the correct time by zoom, and then two weeks later sent a respectful letter of rejection.

    7. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

      That sucks and I hope you find something good soon!

      Looking for marketing jobs is really disheartening. I have several years experience in marketing, but so many of the jobs I would otherwise be very qualified for also require multiple years of experience as a graphic designer. (I am not a graphic designer. It’s been a completely separate job everywhere I’ve worked.) And then there are so many scam jobs..the ones that claim to be marketing jobs but are actually door-to-door sales or hawking cable/satellite TV in Sam’s Clubs. Ugh!

    8. Narvo Flieboppen*

      I feel on the retail ‘experience’. I had taken a job at a grocery store to help make ends meet, then saw they were advertising a full time night shift position at $2 more than I was making at my prior full time day job. When I applied, the store manager refused to interview me because of my ‘lack of grocery store experience’ on my resume. I only had 5 years of experience.

      They hired an 18 high school graduate who quit after 4 weeks because it was ‘too much work for late at night’. When I reapplied, I was again told ‘5 years isn’t enough grocery experience to stock shelves’… I quit shortly thereafter and would never go back.

  32. Calvin B*

    I understand to a point that it might be harder than we think to increase wages because customer’s might not be happy about the increased costs. Is that fear exaggerated? Probably. Would the customer see that how of extra costs? Likely not. But it is at least somewhat realistic.

    I don’t understand, though, why companies seemingly try to treat their workers cruelly and act like they have to make work as arduous as possible. A family member had a job where she had to travel–but was told to fly out on Sunday, so she didn’t “waste a work day” traveling. Workers were forced to work Saturdays so that investors would see cars in the parking lot, even though there wasn’t much work to do. Working from home wasn’t allowed, so people were constantly getting covid, which would cause rework because so many people would miss stuff.

    Just why? Maybe there is a tiny short term benefit, but in the long term all this stuff has to be at best neutral and at worst counterproductive. My family member just left, so now they have to train someone else. The Glassdoor reviews are beyond bad, so right there they will struggle to hire anyone who has options. Yet they don’t seem to want to change.

    1. Nanani*

      A lot of the time the customers are being used as a bogeyman.
      Compare, for instance, the cost of Mcdonalds or another US corporation with international reach across countries. The price is only pennies higher in those with higher labour costs (like a high minimum wage) and Mcdonalds still makes big profits. And nobody is starving because the dollar menu costs more than a dollar since people in Denmark make enough money to live on.

      Customers probably won’t notice the price increase, not to mention that many corporations can easily offset the increased cost of labour by cutting into the excess their CEOs get

      yes I know it’s harder for small businesses to do that don’t at me

      1. Gumby*

        Customers probably won’t notice the price increase

        They might. I have definitely changed my eating out behavior because of price increases. Places where I used to be able to get lunch for ~$10-$12 are now more in the $16 range (and here I am talking deli sandwich and a drink and *maybe* a bag of chips). Places where I used to occasionally eat dinner for $16 are now charging $24. I get it, their costs went up and it’s necessary to raise the prices. I don’t begrudge them that. But I am also not willing to pay the new prices as often as I was the old ones. So instead of dinner out once a week, it is more like once a month. Lunch out went from almost daily (I was super lazy about packing a lunch, it was a problem!) to once a week if that. Honestly, the change overall has been good for me. But it was absolutely driven by price increases.

        1. Daisy Gamgee*

          What’s causing the price increases? I doubt it’s all caused by raises for the frontline workers (as opposed to supplies and ingredients, which are harder to get due to supply chain issues, and executive compensation, which can be orders of magnitude greater than the frontline workers’ pay).

          Increased prices can definitely drive away customers or reduce their visits, but the question is whether or not paying frontline workers more will cause dramatic price increases.

          1. pancakes*

            This isn’t really a question; more of a persistent scare-mongering tactic. There is abundant data from places where a $15 min wage is in place to grasp that dramatic price increases don’t go hand in hand with paying workers better.

    2. Generic Name*

      Here’s the thing about increasing wages. If CEOs took a modest (percentage wise) pay cut, companies could increase worker pay without making prices go up. Company executives can literally launch themselves into space because their pay is so exorbitant.

      1. Tom*

        (Le sigh) Let’s clear this up. First, it’s a very small minority of CEOs who make enough money to go to space. Second off, the unfortunate fact is that while the disparities between CEO and employee remuneration are probably higher than they should be, cutting the salaries of the CEOs is not going to allow the company to give everyone a raise to a “living wage,” for the simple reason that there aren’t that many CEOs as compared to the number of low-level employees.
        According to the Economic Policy Institute, the CEOs at the top 350 firms in the US made between $13.9 million and $24.2 million in 2020, depending on how you count stock options. Most of these companies have thousands of employees, in some cases, tens of thousands. While a million dollars is a lot of money, if you spread it over a few thousand people it goes away fast. The math doesn’t work.
        Take Amazon, for example. Bezos employs around 1.27 million people. Assuming they all work 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, a one dollar an hour increase for everyone would cost the company $2.54 billion. Bezos made about $4.22 billion in taxable income back in 2020–most of the crazy numbers you see include his stock options. Even if he cut his cash salary to zero, you’d be looking at an average of around a $1.70 an hour increase. Which is not chump change, mind–based on the above numbers, that’s $3,400 dollars per year per employee–but it’s not the game-changer people seem to think it is.

        1. pancakes*

          I’m not sure why you’re speaking as if CEOs are categorically the only people who are extremely well-paid. That is much too narrow a basis for your calculations as to what people should and should not happily accept with regard to their own salaries.

          1. Tom*

            That would be an excellent rebuttal if I was arguing about what people should happily accept in terms of pay.
            My point, however, was that the notion that “If CEOs took a modest(percentage wise) pay cut (emphasis mine), companies could increase worker pay without making prices go up. Company executives can literally launch themselves into space because their pay is so exorbitant” is based on a very distorted perception of CEO compensation as compared to the size of the companies they oversee.
            As you can see from the numbers I cited above, “Rich enough to shoot themselves into space” is an outlier, not the norm.

  33. CatCat*

    Ultimately, though, too many companies have become used to not having to pay competitive wages, offer attractive benefits, or generally treat people well.

    Or train people up.

    1. ButtonPusher*

      Why does everyone seem to think we are born with this? Lots of people give lip service to the “we want to find smart, curious people who are flexible and want to learn.” But god help you if you don’t have 15 years experience in the EXACT tool they use.

    2. PT*

      I’ve had jobs where I came in very qualified for the field, but then was expected to know the company’s internal operational procedures without training because “you’re supposed to be experienced.”

      I’m sorry, but experience with llamas does not translate to knowing your company’s refund policy for customers, or your company’s HR policy for writing up an employee, or that Fergus really doesn’t like it when you bring a coffee mug past him so don’t ever do that even though it’s not against any actual rules he just hates the smell of coffee, or that your company ignores the Board of Health regulations for llama housing because it costs too much, or that each employee is allowed 1 sharpie at a time not 2 and how dare you take 2 from the supply cabinet.

    3. Sara without an H*

      This. A lot of companies apparently are reluctant to train people, on the grounds that as soon as they’re fully trained, they’ll leave for better opportunities elsewhere. On the other hand, if they can find someone who’s fully trained on everything they want, they’re shocked — shocked! — to discover that these people want substantial money to make a lateral move.

  34. Quickbeam*

    I retired last year after hitting the ceiling for my profession at my company. They still haven’t hired anyone because the applicants are asking for more than the high point in the pay band. I say good for the applicants for valuing their true worth.

  35. Pascall*

    WFH is definitely something that I see a lot of places really digging their heels in about. I would be much happier at my current salary if I could WFH- my job does not require me to be in office. But even after writing a letter to the school board about it and proposing that they discuss it, doesn’t look like anything is taking hold. Ridiculous when our central office is hemorrhaging tech employees. Super disappointing. I don’t WANT to work somewhere else – I like my job duties and colleagues. But when my commute takes me nearly an hour and a half to get home every day in rush hour traffic, something’s gonna give eventually. I was also in an accident back in October during my commute which is making me a lot more adamant about WFH options.

    Hopefully they’re actually discussing something just behind the scenes.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      At least our company seems to be doing that right: If you aren’t needed in the office, and you have fast enough internet (and probably a few other qualifiers), you can work from home, hybrid or full time. I can’t get adequate internet speed, so I’m working in a nearly empty office, with most of my co-workers at home.

      They sent us all home at the beginning of the pandemic, and worked out a WFH policy before they allowed people to come back.

    2. calonkat*

      Our government office is hemorrhaging employees due to not allowing WFH. Heck, I’d be out of here for a WFH job. I’m driving into the office everyday to sit by myself in a cubicle, wearing a mask all day so I tend to be dehydrated and people can’t see my face on zoom (all meetings are over zoom) and can’t understand me as well on the phone. My job is working on spreadsheets and an online program and our agency has a robust VPN option. I’m typing this while in a zoom meeting right now!

  36. Spicy Tuna*

    I’m a contractor and I negotiated WFH way before Covid; however, for a variety of reasons, the company is reluctant to allow continued WFH of their employees and it is definitely impacting recruiting / retention

  37. yllis*

    For retail, fastfood, lower level healthcare, etc a _consistent schedule_ would help a lot. Being a single parent, arranging day care, school pick ups and drop offs and not knowing what your schedule will be in 2 weeks is frustrating as hell.

    1. AdequateArchaeologist*

      My last retail job our boss made an effort to have vaguely consistent jobs and it was fantastic. You’d do MWF one week, Tues Thurs Sat the next, then back to Mon Wed Fri. And she’d schedule you all morning or all afternoon, not back and forth. It made life so much better. I could actually plan doctors appointments!

      1. VintageLydia*

        Way way back almost 15 years ago I was the cashier lead in the store I worked at and convinced the store manager to let me do the cashier’s schedules. I kept the schedules reasonably consistent (not every week the same because of requests off or available hours I had to work with would change) and it worked FANTASTICALLY for over a year until corporate forced us to do an automated system that would suddenly schedule the 18 year old high school senior random two hour shifts in the middle of the school day and constantly ignore APPROVED requests off (double checked in the system.) The store manager had to spend more time each week fixing the “automated” schedule than they did scheduling on their own and there were still major things missed almost every week. And the schedule would be released by this awful system Sunday to start on Monday so the manager was spending pretty much an entire weekend (aka high-sales and as many employees needed on the floor to help customers as possible) fixing that dang schedule and fielding phone calls all day for the people who weren’t working that Sunday to see when they worked that week.

    2. Observer*

      Yes. And it’s true for two parent households, households where (potential) employees have any care-giving obligations and households where (potential) employees have other things going on in their lives. And it makes a huge difference for people at most levels of the employment scale.

    3. PT*

      I had several jobs where our company offered low pay and crappy work conditions. But my bosses (and me when I became a boss) worked very hard to make sure people had stable schedules, could pick their own shifts as much as possible, never assigned anyone to work outside their availability, and never penalized a reliable employee for having to do something important (medical appointment, school, etc.)

      We had a TON of stability and staff loyalty as a result. People preferred consistent scheduling and the ability to call in from the ER without getting yelled at or fired, to higher pay.

  38. yllis*

    And treating them like human beings. In this day and age, cashiers should not be expected to stand for their shift. It’s way to reinforce the “these people are here to serve you. Don’t you feel important, Mr. Shopper” and it’s insulting.

    You know who always has good employees and lots of applicants? Aldis because they pay way above market rate and their employees can sit at the register

    1. Nanani*

      YES! A lot of jobs do not need to be done the way they’ve always been done!
      Let the cashiers sit down, give factory and warehouse workers more breaks, let work that can be remote or shared among multiple people or done on flexible schedules be done that way, the list goes on

      1. Massive Dynamic*

        Absolutely, and shift work scheduling needs to be MUCH more stable instead of the shifting sands scheduling that workers usually endure.

  39. sofar*

    Also doesn’t help that the hiring process has slowed to a crawl, due to staffing issues. We posted a few jobs two months ago, but didn’t have the staff to review applications and reach out to candidates. By the time someone did, all the best candidates had moved on and taken other jobs. Other candidates are being held up in the interview/reference-checking stage. And by the time we’re ready to make an offer, they’ve had to move on.

  40. irene adler*

    Well, this economy has put some worry into my boss here at small biotech company.
    I’ve been taking on a whole lot of new work (Quality, regulatory) since my boss retired two years ago (and not replaced). Boss trained the other guy (R&D manager) but turns out, not completely.
    Meanwhile, recruiters are hitting me up regularly to apply for their positions. After 5 years of job searching, I just cannot do it anymore.
    One time I mentioned to my boss that recruiters are offering salaries like $150K- almost three times my current salary. Not sure if that swayed him. But he did go to Salary.com and yep, sure enough, I am underpaid. Told me so himself.

    Then he hikes my salary by $10K. Just like that.

    Sure, it’s not anywhere close to what my retired boss earned. And not even close to the R&D manager salary. But, I can stick it out a year or so, learn a lot of new things, and split.

      1. irene adler*

        Need the experience doing regulatory things. These would be things no other company would give me a shot at doing.

  41. Generic Name*

    And then there are industries there working conditions are so crap that folks have decided they aren’t willing to work in them no matter how much it pays.

    1. yllis*

      My teenager has thought about being a teacher since she was in grammar school and lately Ive been low-key “you know, there are so many careers out there. You should explore more” and “wow, xyz looks like an interesting job” because the kid of crap teachers are getting now, it doesnt seem worth it.

  42. Some Dude*

    I wonder how much of this is exacerbated by the wealth inequality in our system. I live in a metro area, and the people who make six or seven figures (not to mention the large corporations investing in real estate) skew everything so that it is hard for someone making five figures to have a decent life. It’s hard to compete for housing when you make $50K and there are lots of folks in the area that make five, six, ten times that. Not to mention the habit of our municipalities of being super open to building office parks for tens of thousands of employees and then only building a few hundred units of additional housing.

    People talk about a living wage, but how much can we afford to raise minimum wage if rents are increasing by double digits year over year? Do we start paying entry level folks $50/hr so they can afford a $2,500 apartment? Minimum wages have doubled in the past ten years in my area, and it is still not enough to be considered “livable,” and at certain point it stops making economic sense. How much can you charge per plate at a restaurant to pay your workers enough to live in San Francisco or New York City, you know?

    1. yllis*

      People who make a 6 to 7 figure income usually dont want the 5 figured ones living near them anyway.
      In my sister’s town in the western Chicago burbs, there was an old factory headquarters a developer wanted to redo into housing and make it affordable. It became a huge _thing_ with competing lawn signs, etc. The fact that there would be “those people” in that suburb just really riled people up. “Those people” are the ones who work in their grocery stores, gas stations, health clubs, shops, taking care of our children and elderly, etc but we can’t have them afford to live here! Property values would go down! Crime would go up! because you know….”those people”. “Those people” can live 1-2 towns over in that suburb where we dont go after night.

      It was really ugly and really….sad

      1. Some Dude*

        Ugh. I haven’t experienced that. What I’ve experienced is people in my community (I’m in the SF Bay Area) who adamantly oppose any new housing because they don’t want to lose the character of their neighborhood and want it to stay the sleepy little place they moved to in 1985, when the state had half as many people. There has not been a housing development in my area that hasn’t been vigorously opposed by the locals.

        1. Starbuck*

          Yes, my small town is like that too. People are rabidly resistant to building anything new out of fear of change, but somehow don’t seem to realize that refusing to build new stuff has also led to change – a drastic increasing in housing prices, the amount of wealth required to buy into the town, and the average age of the community (all going up). The same people who oppose any new dense housing also bemoan how difficult it is to get service in a restaurant or find someone to do cleaning or repairs around their house.

        2. AdequateArchaeologist*

          Same! I’m in Utah and the outrage over any sort of new housing is way overblown. There was a huge “no high density housing” thing going around a year or two ago where they were talking about putting in a new apartment complex. But renting our your basement divided into 5 200 sq foot apartments is just fine. Urgh. You can either enjoy the economic growth and deal with the increased housing needs or you can go back to your tiny economy. You can’t have both. (I I’ve a lot of strong feelings about this.)

          1. La Triviata*

            In the city where I live, a certain amount of rental housing is being bought by investors who raise the rents to be barely affordable for most people if not totally unaffordable. Think $4K for a modest size one-bedroom apartment. Also, since we’re a tourist destination (yes, there are still tourists) a number are also bought with the intention of using them as AirBnB and making more of a profit.

            1. introverted af*

              I worked for basically a county tourism bureau (convention and visitors bureau, if you’re familiar) straight out of college, and there were really interesting discussions going on at the time about how to handle AirBnB/short term rentals and I think the city did a good job trying to balance the desire of people who own their house to make a buck, and not allowing too much development by people who are buying a house to just use for that. They put in some licensing requirements that everybody had to meet, but it was much more stringent, more like the hotels, if the property wasn’t your primary residence. There was some initial pushback but I really do think that’s a good way to go that still allows for participation in the market for vacation rentals without causing issues on housing prices.

        3. cheeky*

          I gotta tell you, as a lifelong Bay Area resident and urban planner, I am positive you have seen that attitude in action, disguised and not, from every city and county in the region. Not wanting to “lose the character” of a town is a broad cover.

          1. Some Dude*

            True, but where I’m at it’s mostly nicer developments that are getting put in that are for market rate housing, and people do not like that. They also do not like how expensive real estate is. And they do not like how many homeless/unhoused people there are. It’s a lot of the anti-development stuff that I get, but we are at a crisis point right now. They were able to delay one project in an empty lot near me, and it became a homeless encampment, which is obviously much preferable to an apartment building.

      2. LimeRoos*

        I can totally see that! I grew up in the Western burbs, where the burb next door had a super old Olvaltine factory that got remade into lofts and stuff (which look awesome now as an adult). I was too young to hear about the drama, and I have no idea if the housing was affordable or not, but I can imagine there was a lot of debate in our community.

        Side note, I was sad the factory wasn’t running once I learned that Olvaltine was chocolate milk lol. To be a kid again :-D

    2. Anyfizz*

      There’s also an issue that the housing (both existent and new construction) doesn’t match the demographic anymore. Households are no longer predominantly the nuclear family with a single breadwinner and kids.
      But directly related to your comment, unmoderated ownership of land was always going to come to a head with population growth in my opinion. Mortgage payments don’t go up but rents do, just because it’s an accepted way to earn income. It’s inherently unfair and exacerbates the gap between the haves and have nots.

  43. Marie*

    At my company, a few years back they started understaffing/cutting our hours budget. So much so that it made many good, long term people quit because their jobs became so stressful. Now they can’t get decent people and the quality of the people is nothing compared to what they had. Yet this winter it was again, cut the hours budget.

    Whatever exec thought this was a good idea should be made to work a shift at peak time – let them try to serve all those customers and see how they do.

  44. Veryanon*

    Two stories:
    At my current employer, managers in different departments are competing over *internal applicants* to the point where they are throwing crazy money around for lateral transfers. I’ve told the comp folks that they need to take a serious look at our salary bands and if we are competitive with the external market, but no one is listening, and then the Sr VP of HR wonders why we are seeing the highest turnover we’ve ever experienced.
    Today I had a phone interview for a role that seemed to be a decent fit between my KSAs and what the hiring company was looking for. As the recruiter was describing the role to me, I knew based on what he was describing that the position had a market value of around X dollars. I asked him flat-out what kind of comp they were offering (a question I would have danced around even 5 years ago) and he named a range that was significantly lower than both the market value and what I currently make. He seemed shocked when I told him I wasn’t interested in moving forward.
    My point: Some employers are still not understanding that it’s a job seeker’s market out there. The employers who don’t get it are being left in the dust.

  45. Forkeater*

    I’ve been looking for a job since my employer announced layoffs in October 2020. Allison’s observations are spot on. I keep hearing from employers when I interview that the job is really hard to fill. Then they turn me down, and the position is still posted, or reposted months or even a year later! They can’t accept experience in an adjacent industry, or someone with expertise in one software system (think Excel) might be able to apply those skills to a similar software (think Google sheets). I keep applying because I’m not sure my company is going to be able to overcome their troubles and survive this never ending pandemic, but I am getting pretty frustrated. And the longer it goes on the less likely I am to jump through special hoops for these never-to-be-filled jobs. No more take home projects. I don’t even fill out the demographic stuff for them anymore.

    1. J.B.*

      I’ve also noticed that application tracking systems seem to have you put in a desired salary number – one number. No way am I going to low-ball that when applying but bet it’s screening.

  46. Anonymous Luddite*

    This is perfect timing. My department of 5.5 Llama trainers has lost two in the last three weeks.
    – Pay is below average and vacation is minimal. (Big surprise, both left for better paying jobs with better benefits)
    – Covid precautions have been laughable. (One of the remaining engineers is a… killroy, to be polite.)

    Yes, yes, and there will be people who point out that I’m still here. Believe me, I’m looking.

  47. Andri Byrne*

    I work with a lot of hiring managers across the tech/life sciences field, and we have to constantly emphasize to them that they need to be prepared to meet candidates where they want to be in terms of salary. Another large part is making sure they move the interview process along – if they’re going to reject a candidate, we don’t want them to have gone through four rounds of interviews over two months.

    I spend a lot of time convincing them that their unicorn doesn’t exist either. No one is going to have experience in every area they want, and even if one did, they’re not going to be able to afford them.

  48. Girasol*

    I wonder how much of this is because it’s been an employers’ market for so many years now. How many hiring managers and HR recruiters have spent their entire careers in a “You’re just lucky you have a job!” and “We require a unicorn!” and “It’s unprofessional to discuss your salary!” and “Nobody actually works at home!” years? I wonder if they simply can’t grasp what you’re all talking about.

  49. Evonon*

    We are hiring to fill my position (leaving for grad school hooray!) And I am assisting with the hiring process…and I already have gently asked about aspects of the posting (why aren’t we posting the salary range? Why do we need someone with a degree? Why 5 years of experience when I’ve only been on this job for 3?) as I can already foresee other reasons why people wouldn’t apply (no remote work baby even though everything we do is online!). And they can’t answer me but are moving forward. And we only have 3 applicants so far and I leave in two months so…good luck

  50. Super Anon Admin*

    I work at a museum. Some departments are struggling to find part-time entry level employees at $16/hour. And it’s not super hard work- check-in desk, souvenir store, cafe and security. Our security staff rotate through 1 hour in the security booth and then walking the galleries and someone may have to double time it to the megalodon jaw exhibit if the alarm goes off*, but there is usually someone in the gallery, maybe on the other end. So again, not too dangerous.

    *Some people like to ignore the “please don’t touch/please don’t climb on exhibit” signs and will put their child on the platform, behind the jaw and take pictures. That make seem like a cool picture, but if the child stumbles on falls on the real, serrated teeth, they are going to get hurt. Not to mention the damage that is done by people (again mostly adults) grabbing the teeth and pulling on them. Oh and the adult who fell climbing on the platform, injured himself and wanted the museum to pay for his medical bills. Good thing we have a camera on that exhibit with the “please do not climb on exhibit” sign very visible. It’s an exhibit, not a jungle gym.

    1. OftenOblivious*

      Has anyone reviewed the job posting description/requirements lately? Or where they’re getting posted? Do people start and quit? Or they’re just not getting many people to apply to begin with?

      Also, hurray for megalodons!

      1. Super Anon Admin*

        We review and update, if necessary, all job descriptions at least yearly, so I believe the job descriptions are accurate. We get a decent number of applications. Once a person is brought in for an in-person interview, they have been through a phone screen and a virtual interview. It’s usually at this stage that we found out they misrepresented their skills* or they want to negotiate working hours, such as no nights or weekends, which the job description clearly states “some evenings and weekends required”. We have approximately 1-2 nights per month that we are open until 9, and depending upon what client rentals we get, there maybe some other evenings that run later for the cafe , security and souvenir store, if the client wants the store to remain open. The managers are very good about rotating who is working so no one gets scheduled to work all the nights.

        * If the apply for an education position, they need to have previous educational experience or have knowledge in one of the areas covered by the museum. If you apply to work in the geology area, you need to know the difference between igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rock. We will interview people whose skills are a bit of a sketch, such as someone who may not have formal education experience, but they may say they are rockhounds and involved in their local club. Twice recently, candidates say they are rockhounds, but really mean they like “pretty” rocks and when they say they are involved with their local club, they meant the attended an open-to-all collecting trip or their spouse is a member.

    2. PT*

      You should build a model megalodon jaw photo booth that’s specifically designed for that sort of picture taking. Or one that’s a greenscreen and you can select different cool backdrops from the museum and insert them as if you’re standing right there. It would be a good way to make money and get people off your dinosaurs.

      1. Super Anon Admin*

        It’s been discussed, but honestly do not have the space currently. There have been some talks about expanding recently, so maybe we will get a photo op if/when that happens.

        Honestly, I wish people would be a bit more careful. I know they think our exhibits are cool- that’s great and what we are aiming for- but if they get damaged or destroyed, then there are less cool things for them and less chance we will get cool traveling exhibits. Insurance premiums will go up and then we’ll have to charge more for admission to cover it. Most guests are great, but we always have a few who think the rules shouldn’t apply to them/their kids.

  51. Anoner*

    It’s not just companies trying to attract workers but those who aren’t doing anything to keep the ones they have who actually make a difference in their company! I keep getting promises and being asked to be patient. I am now just focusing on holding out for 3 more years so I can get my full pension.

    1. PTBNL*

      YES. I have had vague promises for two solid years from my company and told “just stick with us”. I have brought them numerous examples of how underpaid I am and their response has been “but you’re paid more than the others.” Well my qualifications far exceed the other people in my role and I’m still under market.

  52. Anon T*

    Can we also talk about jobs that make you jump through extra hoops?

    I just submitted an application that had five required short essay questions in addition to cover letter and resume–why do want to work for us, describe a time when, that sort of thing. Not lightweight questions either! I do not have time or energy for that on top of customizing my cover letter, and I just kind of snapped. I pasted “available for questions upon interview” five times and submitted my application that way.

    If they like what they see, they can invest half an hour in me. Then I’ll tell them about a time I had to use one of my personal qualities to deal with adversity. So they can decide whether I’m fit to manage their executive’s Outlook calendar.


    1. clownfish*

      Oh, you’re my hero. Good for you! My good friend just went through an intense application process that required a resume, cover letter, two separate (timed!) quizzes, and four essay questions. All for a temporary contract position! Absolutely ridiculous.
      Wishing you luck in the job search!

      1. Anon T*

        The problem is, now if they do interview me (unlikely), I’ll want to ask them who wrote the application, and if it’s representative of how the company does things. And they will probably not like that line of questioning.

    2. Nanani*

      Good answers!
      Those really are things that should be asked in an interview because they are questions meant to spark back-and-forth discussion so you can find out about each other. Getting a canned answer is worse than useless for both sides!

    3. Third Generation Nerd*

      After spending over three hours on an application including short essays answering such important questions as, “What three objects would you bring if you were stuck on an island, and why?” , I was rejected on the basis of the 100 question personality quiz. All before I ever connected with a human.

      Honestly I think the island question might have been applicable to an office operations manager, depending on the firm’s headquarters location.

      1. Nanani*

        I’m reading this and picturing their headquarters being on an island, now. Like a little cartoon one that bugs bunny might be shipwrecked on.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I applied for a job, got almost all the way through the online application (it took about twenty minutes because the resume auto-loader f*cked everything up), and then found a 150-question personality quiz at the end. I bailed. The job, an entry-level project admin position for a company that had shitty Glassdoor reviews, was not worth it. They might as well have just included a field asking for my zodiac sign.

        1. Just an autistic redhead*

          Pffft. Why the heck are all these personality quizzes on job applications so long?! 100+ questions??? Sure, I’ll tell you I’m an Aquarian Wood Ox with water hands, but… I’ll also tell you that doesn’t affect a thing about my work habits and potential. And that my managers for the last 10 years? Don’t even KNOW my rising sign or blood type. And no, quiz, I don’t actually want to pursue a career as an idea person for an artistic volunteer social intellectual activist education clinic… (I’m fine with people who do, but it’s really just not my thing…)

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Aquarian Wood Ox, hahahahaa

            I also saw one today that wanted applicants’ college GPAs. Why is that relevant outside college? It’s not. Once I graduate, it ceases to matter.

            1. Forestwitch*

              I just applied to a job that required (unofficial) transcripts to verify my degree. This was part of the application, meaning they saw my less than stellar grades from when I was 19. Totally unnecessary and there’s just so much potential for discrimination. There has to be a non-invasive way to verify education.

  53. Up and Away*

    I’m having no trouble whatsoever finding people…never have. We’ve always offered the 75 percentile of median wage in our area (I check it annually), full benefits package with 80% of premiums paid for medical, 100% for vision, life, and dental. 4-6 weeks PTO, tuition reimbursement, annual service awards, annual reviews, annual raises, and quarterly bonuses. And most importantly, we have a respectful workplace that offers a great work/life balance. Are we perfect? Nope. But we listen to people, respect them, and pay them what they’re worth. And we still make a healthy profit margin on top of all that…amidst stiff competition in our field. Because we’re good, and we can.

  54. Alex (they/them)*

    I feel like a lot of companies, especially in my field, are very reluctant to offer entry-level positions. I graduated last year and had to take a job with an hour+ commute because everyone wanted years and years of experience.

  55. Anonymous Commentator*

    It’s scary how out of touch employers are. My old employer made me a lowball job offer a few months ago (they wanted to give me half of what I make now and work on call 7 days a week, basically part time with full time availability) and was shocked I said no. This offer was also contingent on quitting my current job. Again, this job has benefits, paid vacation/PTO, and pays more than double what I used to make and my old manager still said he was blown away I turned down his offer, even after explaining the above!

    1. old biddy*

      I was contacted by a recruiter for a senior level unicorn scientist role which would require me to relocate somewhere 4 hours away. it sounded interesting so I sent my resume and chatted over the phone. It was a 6 month contract job and I am currently employed. WTF?!?!?

  56. Hannahlouwho*

    I applied to, interviewee, and was offered a position that had a 20k salary range listed. When the position was offered, they offered (pretty close) to
    The bottom. I’ve got a masters in my field and am working on a doctorate. The salary offered paid slightly less than what I make now. When I negotiated, they offered me $500 more than the original offer. I said no.

    1. Third Generation Nerd*

      I got an offer letter with a gushing phone call, “The strongest candidate we’ve ever had, so excited to have someone with your experience and ability.” The offer was at the rock bottom of the (very broad) advertised range. My counter would have been at 20% above their stated range, a full 50% above their offer. Probably should have countered, but I was so disheartened by the offer I just passed.

  57. Mannheim Steamroller*

    The general attitude seems to be…

    “It’s not our job to attract you. It’s YOUR job to want to work for us.”

    1. On the Market*

      Yep. And I gleefully decline 2nd interviews and remove those folks from my list of potential employers. Good to know the attitude before working there.

  58. Ed123*

    Also, advertise jobs. Just because nobody in your contacts is not available it doesn’t mean anyone else is not. I’ve read a lot about “hidden jobs”. There are a lot of employers looking for employees but you need to know to contact them. I always remember previous manager complaining about not finding anyone but he had not put up an advert. He claimed to know everyone in the area in our field (he doesn’t. He knows the older ones) and I pointed out that new people graduate every years and people change jobs and location for reasons.

  59. Portland*

    Could we get a round-up of some ridiculous job postings? I’ve been out of the job market for 15 years and live in Oregon where wages are very low. When a posting is 100% ridiculous, I can recognize it, but for a lot of them I don’t have much reference. It seems like the wages others post from other states would be double what someone would make here. Plus very few postings I see here put the wage, even in a range, on the posting. I mostly look at document management/ records / info / electronic documents postings.

    1. Aggretsuko*

      I’m on this theater mailing list called “Nothing For The Group” that posts salaries that are too low for the cost of living there.

    2. Canadian Librarian #72*

      I posted about this below, but I saw a job ad this past week for a full-time librarian position at a major public research university that wanted someone with subject expertise in two different areas. Not great, but not crazy in and of itself – except that these two subject areas were wildly disparate… think Latin American Studies and physics. It’s vanishingly unlikely they’ll get candidates who can actually give appropriate guidance in both these fields.

    3. AdequateArchaeologist*

      There was a listing for a job that required a PhD in anthropology and said they wouldn’t budge on the requirement, plus statistics experience. They were only paying $36k, no benefits, and it wasn’t a post-doc fellowship or adjunct position you would expect to be poorly paid, but on honest to god “real” job. I have never closed a listing so quickly in my life.

    4. Cle*

      My city had a job posted not long ago for a social worker. Bachelor’s required, of course, master’s preferred. Part time with varying hours based on home visitation schedules. $15.50 an hour.

  60. Sara without an H*

    There are a lot of pieces to this. First, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, growth of the U.S. labor force has been declining for decades, for a bunch of reasons, not all of which are clear. (Some factors I’ve heard discussed include a declining birth rate, reduced rates of immigration, and an increase in the number of older workers taking retirement. But there are a lot of variables.)

    We also have several major industries (retail, hospitality, elder care, and child care, among them) which depend on a large and steady pool of low-wage labor. A lot of people doing these jobs were furloughed last year and went off and found other jobs. And guess what? They’re not coming back.

    And I suspect that a lot of people, mostly women, can’t go back to work because the schools aren’t yet open consistently and somebody has to look after the kids.

    A lot of companies think this situation is “temporary,” and once the pandemic subsides to a manageable level, things will go back to normal. They won’t.

  61. Won't work myself to death, thanks.*

    Amen to this!! I just left my company because after having aquired me for job A, they also had me do B, C and D while complaining that they didn’t “have the budget to hire more resources”, but they also didn’t put a cap on sales so our department wouldn’t be completely snowed under. They apparently figured it was totally fine to have me work the hours and workmoad to two people instead of one and after 1 year of working my behind off, didn’t even give me a raise or a permanent contract. Needless to say, I quit, am taking a break to recover while looking for a job with an employer who’s not completely abusive.

  62. Canadian Librarian #72*

    I saw a job ad this past week for a full-time librarian position at a major public research university that wanted someone with subject expertise in two different areas. Not great, but not crazy in and of itself – except that these two subject areas were wildly disparate… think Latin American Studies and physics. It’s vanishingly unlikely they’ll get candidates who can actually give appropriate guidance in both these fields.

    Meanwhile, another major research university keeps hiring librarians almost exclusively part-time and contract. Librarians are not treated like qualified professionals; we’re treated like customer service reps. (No offence to CSRs; I’ve been one at many jobs. But I didn’t get a master’s degree and spend five years in the field to have the same working conditions as I did at the telemarketing firm.)

  63. What Goes Around Comes Around*

    All I honestly have to say about the whole situation is that companies/employers are finally having the day they deserve, and serves them right.

  64. Still Trying To Adult*

    OK, I’ve done a quick run-thru of the comments, and they’re all pretty good.

    I just want to emphasize how much upper levels of management in almost all industries have made out like bandits for perhaps 40 years – since the ’80s Greed Is Good attitudes. Those attitudes came along with complete willingness to shortchange the lowest level workers. Often with pejorative attitudes like ‘well if they want a better job, they can go back to school’ and believing them to be lazy and unmotivated, and only offering dull dead end part time positons with no bennies.

    Time & again we’ve seen companies who actively stay ahead of the game by treating people well and paying them living wages. But a majority of companies still want to shave every penny of their labor costs, and reap big bonuses for upper management.

    I predict a long hard road for management before they tumble to this revolutionary idea that employees should be paid well.

    1. The Omega Variant*

      I predict a collapse of the economy because everything you say is correct and there is no reason to think that management will change. We will let everything burn to the ground before we admit we were wrong about those lazy slackers who don’t appreciate the favor we are doing by hiring them.

      But let me toss in a note for most of the business owners I know personally. They are trying to turn their food truck businesses into chains or brick-and-mortar locations. They really are living the reality that they can’t pay their workers a real minimum wage, like eight bucks an hour. They pay three dollars per hour, in America, because the law says that for waiters, tips are supposed to make up the difference. These small business owners are working twelve-hour days without benefits shoulder-to-shoulder with the people they are underpaying. If they raised their prices enough to pay eight bucks an hour, they would have no business at all … many of them don’t, having given up, fired everybody and closed down during the last year.

      So while I agree that a majority of large companies still want to shave every penny of their labor costs, and reap big bonuses for upper management, let’s take a minute to say a prayer for the small business owners who are truly caught between an irresistible force and an immovable object, with no morally sound choice available.

  65. nobadcats*

    I am old enough to remember living in Seattle when amz was just a start up (when dinosaurs walked Earth in the early 90s), and I was desperate for a job. I was outright banned from applying to ANY job at amz unless I had a college degree (any degree), even for a warehouse position.

    That has soured and informed me on all job postings forever. You’re looking for unicorns? Well actually look at the people who are applying and PAY THEM.

  66. Candi*

    I think this can be summed up as “This is no longer a Recession-era market. The pendulum has swung the other way, and you must change to adapt.”

  67. Knowyourworth*

    I just recently ran into this in the LTL (Less than Truckload) Transportation industry. I have 10 years of experience within the industry with two of those years as an Operations Supervisor. I recently went to an interview for a position that I was a supervisor for at my previous employer. They wanted to pay me entry level pay with no room to negotiate.

  68. Jessica*

    I hate the employers who act critical of employees for being “greedy” and uncommitted because they want to get paid. THAT IS WHY PEOPLE WORK. Can’t afford to pay more wages? Maybe you need to reduce your profit margin. Who’s greedy now?

    1. Still trying to adult*

      AND reduce the insane salaries and bonuses paid to the upper echelons!!

      Along with the slavish devotion to ‘returning value to the investors’!

  69. Emrin Alexander*

    I have an associate degree in specialized business (legal assistant), have worked as a legal secretary, administrative assistant, and medical editor/transcriber. I type 80 wpm on a slow day and have worked with everything Microsoft has thrown up since the 1980s. I was laid off in 2018 just as my wife entered end-stage heart and kidney disease, so there’s a gap in my resume while I was a full-time caregiver for 2 years.

    I rarely get interviews no matter what I’m applying for, and I crafted my resume using the Ask The Manager recs. And I’m seeing the same jobs I’ve applied to sitting online, presumably unfilled. It’s very frustrating because I would love to be working.

  70. drivesmenuts*

    My company is “desperately” hiring for a supervisor position, BUT 1) the pay sucks because there is no similar businesses to base salary on so my company takes advantage of that, 2) the location sucks because it’s super rural in a high tax, high cost of living state, 3) the work sucks because it’s an afternoon shift that doesn’t allow for anyone with a family or friends, 4) the benefits suck because my company gives pretty much the bare minimum as required by the state. SO, given all of these problems, why wouldn’t my company realize that everyone they have spoken with turns them down and thus more incentive is required? Nobody knows….

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