Does Workplace Culture Have an Effect on Labor Shortages?

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Many businesses in retail, hospitality, and restaurant industries, are having a hard time finding not only good, qualified applicants but applicants in general. Restaurants and businesses across the U.S. have had to close their doors early due to the lack of employees to sustain the business and to keep their current employees from exhaustion. While shopping for a new notepad and a pack of pens at Office Depot, an employee informed me and others that they will be closing the store four hours early due to limited staff. A Burger King restaurant just up the road from my house closed off indoor dining a few times because there weren’t enough employees to support the number of orders coming in from both indoor and drive thru.

The great resignation is proving to be a big obstacle for many employers. For the first time, job seekers have the ball in their court. To entice potential applicants and to keep current employees happy, companies such as Chipotle and Walmart raised wages. In a recent article from, Target has introduced a debt-free college education program for part-time and full-time workers. Some employers have even succumbed to the idea of the hybrid work model to appease their employees. Although, employers are trying their best to bring workers back to the labor force, some would say these efforts are long overdue. So that leaves the question…are these company incentives here to stay or is it just a new way to pull employees back into the same old song and dance?

Workers are not looking to come back to a toxic and stressful work environment dealing with rude customers and egotistical managers. To bring workers back in a genuine way, the old work mentality and expectations of employees needs to change. A few ways this can happen is by having a supportive management team, effective communication on all levels, and creating a work-life balance atmosphere.

A Supportive Management Team

The management team controls the environment and how the business and the team can thrive together. That old mentality of working nonstop with no vacation breaks and creating a string of burnt-out employees is no longer acceptable. Employees want a work environment with minimal stress and manageable workflow. Also, employees don’t want to deal with unruly customers and not have a manager step in and support them. In the world of retail, rude customers are nothing new, but since the shutdown ended businesses from Delta to Sam’s Club have had instances where customers are verbally and physically harming employees because they choose not to follow CDC guidelines. This issue has only gotten worst throughout the pandemic. Employers need to learn how to value their staff as individuals and support them during situations of distress. Or risk losing good employees at an alarming rate.

Effective Communication

Hey managers! Learn how to take constructive feedback from your teams. Part of being a manager is to monitor your teams’ work behaviors and hold them accountable to any inconsistencies. Employees also have an obligation and a right to do the same with management. There may be times where employees don’t feel comfortable speaking up to certain issues out of fear of retaliation from upper management. This could be one of the many reasons why employees are not in a rush to come back to the labor force.

Corporate and store-level management teams need to be better listeners and be willing to adapt to new ways of thinking. Employees thrive in a workplace where their opinions are heard and valued. By listening and engaging with fellow coworkers, you will create a trusted work environment where employees are willing to share their opinions freely and show up to work as their best selves.

Work-life Balance

Some companies are implementing the hybrid work model to orchestrate a work-life balance that is customary to the employee’s needs, while still running their business effectively. During the shutdown last year, many employees learned new skillsets and enjoyed family life while working from home. Realizing the amount of time lost from working in-office and being overworked. Employees need to capitalize on this moment to be able to negotiate terms and finally have a say on what their work environment should look like.

Striving for a work-life balance can create a healthy atmosphere for employees. Boosting team morale and improving employee productivity. In an article by, it states that burnout stems from consistent stress and being overworked, which can cause health issues such as heart attacks and high blood pressure. Companies can create a better work environment by establishing flexible work schedules, while still giving an adequate number of hours; extending health care incentives such as maternity leave and hosting social gatherings for the team to connect, either at work or via zoom. Just to name a few.

Instead of employers having their pick of the litter, they now need to put forth more effort to find potential employees. Advertisements for higher wages and paid vacation time for all positions have been circulating across the internet and plastered on store front windows in hopes of luring in new applicants. But all of it means nothing if the work environment is not welcoming and supportive. For companies to succeed in finding new applicants, they should create a workspace where employees feel appreciated and growth opportunities are attainable. Communicate effectively to keep the workplace culture positive and inviting for all and not allow work to bleed into an employee’s everyday life.