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Worker Shortages to Last Into '22; Remote Work an Assumed Perk

Employers should expect 'a slow grind of trying to pull workers from the sidelines back into the labor force,' Glassdoor says.

The labor shortages that have defined the job market this year will likely continue into 2022, according to a report released on Wednesday.

While employers may be ready to write off the tight 2021 labor market as a pandemic-era anomaly, a report by the job/company research firm Glassdoor said they should view this year as a template for what to expect in 2022.

"Unlike past recessions, the U.S. has largely skipped the phase of the recovery where employers have a large pool of unemployed workers to hire from," the Glassdoor report said. 

"Employer reliance on furloughs kept the pool of available workers relatively small throughout the pandemic."

11 Million Unfilled Positions

The Glassdoor study was released on the same day that the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary showed just over 11 million unfilled positions in October. That's the second-highest tally on record and 431,000 higher than the final September tally.

"At this point, it’s unlikely that we will return anytime soon to an earlier point in the recovery where it’s easy to hire," the Glassdoor report said. 

"Instead, we are now in the expansion phase of the recovery where employers should expect a slow grind of trying to pull workers from the sidelines back into the labor force rather than snatching up available laid-off workers."

The report also said that prior to the pandemic, remote work "was a secret superpower for employers who could offer it, enabling access to a wider talent pool."

"But the pandemic released the remote work genie out of the bottle: it’s now an almost-necessary tool for many employers, which in turn has diluted the recruiting advantage remote employers previously had," Glassdoor said.

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Demanding Diversity

In addition, job seekers are demanding more from companies on diversity, equity and inclusion, or DE&I.

"While many companies set ambitious goals in response, DE&I efforts now stand at an inflection point as we enter 2022," the report said. 

Employees "increasingly expect to see progress from companies and the goodwill engendered by goal-setting or pledges begins to wear thin."

Although employee dissatisfaction may make some employers more hesitant to share DE&I metrics and goals, Glassdoor said "increased DE&I transparency is a powerful way to highlight progress and incentivize accountability."

Keeping Pulse on Employee Needs

Employers can also expect the workplace community to expand beyond company walls, said Glassdoor, which found 48% of employees have felt isolated from coworkers during the pandemic.

Employees may seek out professional communities outside their employers, or ask their employers to do better in supporting them. 

Supporting, engaging and retaining employees in the new pandemic era will require being nimble, keeping a pulse on employee needs and responding to feedback in a quickly-changing environment, the report said.

"Employers have little control over what employees want," Glassdoor said. 

"But they can get ahead of the curve by recognizing that many employees are looking not just for a job, but for a career and a community."