Where Have All the Workers Gone?

Where Have All the Workers Gone?

It’s an interesting question.

And it’s a question I get asked by most of my clients who desperately need team members to ensure their businesses can run properly.

I get the same comments. Some think that the young simply do not want to work. Many blame Covid. And finally, everyone likes to blame the Government for not opening our borders soon enough.

The reality is that all the above is true.

I know the accounting sector is badly affected. Fortunately, my firm has not had an issue. I do not know if that is because my team enjoy working for us or if it is because we are just lucky. Whatever it is I count my lucky stars because continuity of your team and your team dynamics determines how your business progresses.

Here are some facts

  1. Fundamental Shifts

There has been a shift on how and where people want to work.


Covid19 has changed the way we think about life and how we want to work.

From 1914 to 2020 only 5% of the workforce worked from home. Today that is about 28%. The general feeling is that businesses will bow to employee demands even though they know that home working is not as productive as people being in a work environment. But workers will eventually transition back, and it is estimated that in the long term only 15-20% of the workforce will work from home full time. That is still 3 times more than in 2020.

For workers this is about convenience and saving time travelling.

The Shift to Rural

There has also been a fundamental shift in the place people have decided to live. Population growth in rural areas have outstripped the main capital cities, especially in places such Melbourne and Sydney.

For workers this is about lifestyle.

But it also has implications for how our main central cities will operate in the future and the effect of business operations in central areas.

If workers want to live rurally, they will be reluctant to travel to CBD areas even for a couple times a week.

  1. Less Workers in the Pool

Since our borders shut there are less people working in traditional areas such farming or hospitality jobs.

But is not all down to borders.

The workforce has shrunk. Workers are retiring in larger numbers than working joining the workforce.

Since Covid many businesses operated by baby boomers are closing down their businesses. Workers above the age of 50 who would normally work until they are in their 60’s are retiring early too. 

  1. Loyalty Has Gone Out of the Window

Anyone who has employed a young worker knows what I am talking about. Not all youngers are like this and I am sure when I was in my 20’s there was a generation above me that thought the same thing.

But there is a difference. There was a time you joined a business and slowly moved your way up after learning the ropes which could take many years. You stuck with the same business or at least the same industry.

Nowadays? Well, employ a young one and there is a chance they want to be CEO by the end of the week. Now I realise I am generalising because my team is full of young ones (I am the oldest and still consider myself young) and not one of them is decided to move me from my chair (either in a kind way or the Macbeth way).

But there is no denying the fact that the younger generation like to move from job to job or from one industry to another.

So, if you have a recruitment problem now you know.

But if that is the case, how do you attract new talent and more importantly how do you retain them?

There are many books written on the subject. There are many professors who have lectured on it too. But this is what I have found and experienced in my own business.

There are only a few ways to attract and retain a workforce

It’s Not Money they Want

Actually, it is. But not really. I have found that team members want to be happy where they work more than money. I know many businesses that pay average rates and don’t have a team recruitment issue.

We all have family gatherings we love. We all have family gatherings we hate. Now imagine how you would feel if you had to go to a family gathering that you hated but had to do that every day. If a slightly better alternative comes along you will take it.

If that is the case for you don’t complain if that is how your team feels. Ask the question. ‘’Is my team truly happy?’’

How do you make a team happy? Here are a few pointers

  1. Respect

If they feel you do not respect them, a world’s ransom will be insufficient to keep them.

Respect usually comes about by taking their views and then acting on it. If you decide not to follow through on their views make sure they know why. And make the reason a good one. Simply saying ‘’ít will not work’’ is not good enough.

  1. You are there for them not Vice Versa

I believe the biggest mistake a business owner makes when it comes to their team is to assume the team is there to service the business owner’s needs.

It’s not.

The team is there to service the customers needs and a business owner needs to give everything they can to ensure the team can do that.

A business owner also needs to service their team needs by building a culture of oneness. Everyone has the right to a say and they all carry equal weight. Decisions might be made by a few but allow your team to express themselves.

Remember most team members have not got a clue what their bosses want or expect of them. Seriously. Ask them ‘’what do you think I want’’ and if you will get multiple answers it may explain why you are not getting what you want.

One thing is certain. They way we work has changed. Expectations have changed and if employees don’t like what they see they move on.

But build a true culture of caring, having a purpose, having core values and there will be a bunch of people who want to work for you and a bunch who will not leave you even when a better pay offer comes along.

If a business has lost team members because they received better pay elsewhere it is because the business was no different from any other employer so pay is the deciding factor.

Remove pay as the deciding factor. And bring some x-factor in place instead.