Labor Force Participation – Motivating Workers to Come Back

Unemployment rates have hit historically low numbers, and there’s pent-up demand for workers in almost every industry. Yet, labor force participation is nowhere near where economists and politicians would like to see it. Nicholas Bloom, a Stanford University economist, believes that the U.S. is missing about 3.5 million workers as a direct fallout of the pandemic. But why is this? Don’t most Americans feel that the pandemic is under control now that vaccinations are available? What is causing non-disabled and qualified workers to remain out of the labor force? 

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has released a new study on labor force participation. They surveyed 948 people who were either currently unemployed, unemployed at any point during the pandemic, or decided to retire during the pandemic. SHRM completed this survey to understand why some people choose to sideline themselves from a competitive and employee-friendly job market; the findings are very interesting. 

Labor Force Participation – Are Workers Feeling Safe?

Among those surveyed, around 21% said they still don’t feel safe about returning to work, and a subset also voiced that they were concerned about vaccination requirements or lack thereof in their places of work. While these figures are not staggering numbers, about 1/5th of those not returning to work are still concerned about health and safety. To directly address these concerns, businesses can do more to make their safety guidelines clear regarding in-office precautions and requirements. 

Labor Force Participation – Flexibility and Fulfillment are Critical

While safety is still a concern, most remain out of the labor force because of flexibility, fulfillment, and a desire to be happier with work/life balance. The pandemic gave perspective to many people across the labor force, a perspective that they did not have before. 

Some workers realized they were unhappy with their careers and didn’t want to do it anymore; whether it was the first time or the final straw, the pandemic created action from dissatisfied employees. Others realized they valued the flexibility of remote work, and many workers decided they’d rather not participate until their work/life balance changed. 

23% of those surveyed who are not retired said the jobs available are not in their field of interest, another 17% said the positions available didn’t pay enough, and another 9% said they wanted to make a career path change and embrace different opportunities. This data can help employers understand where to focus their recruiting efforts and what prospects want to see from job posts they review online. 

Job posts optimized to showcase remote flexibility, competence salaries, and upskilling career path opportunities will have a chance to directly address and entice this large labor market that is currently sitting on the sidelines but could come back. 


Learn how Jobiak can help businesses get their message across in fully-optimized job posts and attract the most desirable candidates.

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