28 Feb “It’s not wonderful news for employees”
Speaking of The Great Recession, what about The Great Resignation? How has the slowdown affected that?
For white collar workers, The Great Resignation is over and has been for a while. I sort of felt like a voice in the wilderness when I started saying that last year as other commentators were just oh-so-sure that it was going to go on and on. I’m actually still seeing articles about how we’re in a workers’ market and employers won’t use a recession to demand RTO and I wonder what planet they are on. Are they studying the job market on Mars because here on Planet Earth, we have to be more practical.
-My interview with Think 7 Figures, published on February 5, 2023 https://think7figures.com/recessions-unemployment-how-can-you-prepare/
“This week, Payscale released the results of its bellwether survey, the 2023 Compensation Best Practices Report.
It’s not wonderful news for employees: fewer employers are offering pay raises and those that will aren’t exactly being generous. As for folks who love the idea of more flexibility in their working lives? The survey reveals there’s a growing kibosh on remote work arrangements. Senator Bernie Sanders’ four-day work week? Forget about it.” –https://news.yahoo.com/heres-some-bad-news-for-employees-looking-for-raises-remote-work-and-shorter-work-weeks-203048824.html published on February 23, 2023
Are you surprised by that? You shouldn’t be.
“Workers push back on returning to the office; employers aren’t backing down
Less than a quarter of those firms grappling with workers who want to stay remote feel that the impact is great enough to consider a policy change.
Let’s call it what it is, a shrug.
In the meantime, one of the more egregious findings: about a quarter of employers surveyed by Payscale pay employees who don’t come into an office less than those who do for the same position.” -Yahoo, Ibid.
I’ve warned you about that as well. Some companies would punish remote workers by telling them, “OK, stay home. But it’ll cost you.”
“‘Companies that offer truly remote work, however, which is around 11% of those surveyed, will still have a major competitive advantage this year in attracting and retaining talent,’ Stewart said.” -Yahoo, Ibid.
Eleven percent is a low number. 🔮 Prediction alert: expect it to get smaller as we get further into this downturn and the public is allowed to see glimpses of how bad the economy actually is. The majority of companies pushing for RTO and/or a hybrid schedule are not worried about a talent war. I’m sorry if that offends you or bursts your bubble, but wake up. I’m on the frontlines of the job market every single day as I have been for over a decade now. You can give the most passionate argument about making a role remote in order to remove geographic boundaries and get the best of the best and . . . crickets, tumbleweeds, and silence. THEY. DON’T. CARE. 🤷🏻♀️ This is reality, folks.
In Payscale’s report, we find that 51% of organizations are facing RTO resistance and 66% don’t consider WFH to be a compensable benefit. (https://www.payscale.com/content/report/2023-compensation-best-practices-report.pdf)
Look: company leaders are not naïve. They know a lot of people who’ve been working remotely like it and don’t want full RTO. They also know that all of the hot air and conflicting information in the MSM about the economy is exactly that. In a recession or depression with high unemployment, people will RTO to avoid starvation, eviction, foreclosure, repossession, debt default, etc. It’s not fair. You will never hear me say the system is fair and it looks out for the average working class person. No way. The system is rigged and reading books like Glenn Greenwald’s With Liberty and Justice for Some and Nomi Pris’ Other People’s Money: The Corporate Mugging of America will only highlight to you just how bad it is. IMO, one of the smartest things you can do is shrug off naivete and face reality.
“The COVID-19 pandemic forced organizations to adopt remote work and work from home (WFH) policies. Now that vaccines are available and the threat of the pandemic is winding down, organizations with traditional or hybrid workspaces are trying to figure out how to get employees back in offices. However, there are numerous indications — from job board application data to surveys — that employees don’t want or are not ready to return. This is particularly important to get right in the talent acquisition process. Only 11 percent of organizations ‘truly’ offer remote work experiences, meaning remote-first (7 percent) or fully remote (4 percent), which is a mismatch with what job seekers are looking for when they search for remote opportunities. In our survey, we asked organizations to describe their current workforce. Most (58 percent) describe their office environment as either traditional or hybrid, which means that all or most employees would need to live within a commutable distance to an office even if they work from home some of
the time. If you add ‘split by job type’ to this grouping, then 89 percent of organizations in 2023 expect all or most of their employees to continue to live within a commutable distance of an office location.” -Payscale Survey, Ibid. emphasis mine
If you peruse job openings, you will see remote postings that require applicants to live within a certain radius of the office. Why? If you were really going to be totally remote forever, why would they ask you to live within 25 miles of an office? It’s not difficult to figure that out. In this Payscale report, 89% of organizations this year expect all or most of the employees to live within commutable distance of an office. Put simply: you’re goin’ back.
“Given the controversy suggested by news coverage of remote work and mandates on employees to return to traditional or hybrid offices, we asked whether organizations have experienced resistance or unwillingness from employees to return to in-person work environments. Most organizations (51 percent) said that they are experiencing resistance, but only 22 percent feel that the impact is great enough to consider a policy change. Meanwhile, 28 percent of organizations have not experienced resistance and 10 percent believe that hybrid offices have slowed attrition or improved engagement.” -Payscale Survey, Ibid. emphasis mine
In spite of the mansplainers and fantasy-havers that a nationwide strike is coming or a petition can stop what’s coming: no, I don’t think so! Only 22% said they would “consider” a policy change. Not that they’d make one, merely that they’d consider it. That’s like when you make a suggestion and the boss says, “I’ll take it under advisement” and sends you back to your desk. 28% say they haven’t experienced resistance at all, apparently, and 10% are hyped up on a hell-of-half-measures model.
“According to our survey, most organizations (61 percent) do not offer any kind of stipend or incentive for employees related to their working location. However, 10 percent offer stipends to encourage employees to come into the office and 16 percent provide a stipend for employees working from home.” -Payscale Survey, Ibid.
🔮Prediction alert: expect a carrot and then the stick. The carrot will be increased money and benefits for RTO. The stick will be the Lord Elon model: c’mon back or there’s the door.
I want to go for a moment to the comments section in the Yahoo article.
One commenter writes, “The funny thing is that many of these remote workers moved away to cheaper places when they went to remote work. Getting them back is likely going to be more of a fight than employers are expecting.”
I highlight that because this is a narrative I see over and over again. Gonna be a fight! Gonna be a nationwide strike! Gonna be a big resistance!
For a little while? Sure. Forever? Nope.
One response to that comment reads, “then that was a poor choice on their part and I guess they can find a new job – I love what I do and we also went 100% remote, but I wasn’t dumb enough to think the gravy train was never going to end. I have a lake house and I was considering selling my primary house and moving there permanently, some did. 3 years everyone is acting surprised… ‘what you I mean hafta come back in? But… But… I don’t wanna…’. If was a business owner, those would be the first to go. My father always said, NO ONE IS UNREPLACABLE!”
I daresay a lot of folks expected the gravy train to roll on forever. Case in point: realtors and brokers who told me that we were NOT in a housing bubble and we would never have another 2008. The loans now are so solid and housing prices will only go up and up. 😂 Now they’re in second jobs and struggling. Well, maybe next time around, don’t pee-pee on someone’s leg and tell them it’s raining.
So we’re faced with a similar dynamic with WFH/WFA versus RTO. Surely some people bought the “new normal” story we heard all the time and assumed the cube farm was dead forever. And/Or they took some of these firms at their word and assumed that if a CEO said the company was committed to WFA forever, that would be true forever and let the church say “Amen.” Well, no. Not so fast. These firms can walk back WFH/WFA whenever they damn well please. If you don’t own the company, you don’t make the rules.
As I said back in January: I have warned you repeated to avoid naivete and normalcy bias. Just because a company publicly touted a WFH/WFA policy and said, “Oh yeah. We’ll never change those rules,” doesn’t make it true forever.
If a CEO or executive told everyone in the past that the company prized remote work THAT DOES NOT MEAN THEY WILL FEEL THAT WAY FOREVER!
As the preppers like to say: if you don’t hold it, you don’t own it. If you are a W2 employee who does not own the company, you don’t make the rules. The executive team at these companies do not answer to the general public. They answer to the investors, the board of directors, and the shareholders, but not to you and me. If it boils down to honoring a petition or turning a profit, WTH do you think they’re gonna do?
Another spin we hear is that companies of the future will be remote and those who don’t get with that program will fail. A responder to the responder noted: “Lots of failed business will disagree with that.”
Sounds good, not reality though. All businesses that demand RTO will not fail because of it. Even if there was a nationwide strike against RTO, scabs would cross that picket line in a heartbeat. (AI solutions could also be brought in faster than planned if necessary.) If your kids are hungry, if the wolves are at the door demanding payments, if you have a landlord threatening to evict you, what are you gonna do? You’ll go back. Again: none of this is right or fair. The system itself is not right or fair. Such is Crony Capitalism.
Another commenter writes, “Three years of DOING IT have proved that remote work and flex schedules actually WORK. Productivity is higher, employee satisfaction is higher, creativity and innovation have taken no hit. But still we have to bow to the whims of exceedingly highly paid ‘C-level’ executives who feel they have lost their power and clout because they can’t micromanage and force people into their offices. So, what’s going to come out of this is that THEY will be happy because they’ll have people in the office, but their employees will be even unhappier and less satisfied than before.”
Yes. Exactly. IMO, this has never been about productivity but rather about control, obedience, and compliance. I wrote a comment on Medium that addresses this issue:
It’s not tough to solve the riddle. So while the commenter on Yahoo notes that employees will be unhappy with having to go back, I think most CEOs look at it this way: Yeah, OK. I grant you that the peons will be angry and restless when they RTO. We’ll have some bad attitudes and eye rolling to deal with, but they’ll get used to it, especially when the MSM finally tells people how bad the economy is and how few jobs are actually available. They’ll suddenly get quite pliable once they know it’s work in an office again or starve out.
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