Since I’m already writing about stuff that gets on my nerves, let me just add that as a manager of a staffing agency, I’m about sick of hearing complaints about the worthiness of candidates to earn living wages.
We live in a country that makes only a few of us sloppy wealthy. Some of us earn enough money to pay for what we need with some wants thrown in there too. Most of us don’t earn enough to pay for everything we need. When the pandemic hit, the employers of the country freaked out because the employees of the country stayed home, choosing to try to protect their health and the health of their loved ones. When the employees got some measly handouts of $600 or $1400 (to cover months of not going to work) the ones at the top whined about how lazy they were, demanding they return to work and continue to make money for the ones who could ride out the pandemic without any help. As a person who had a front row seat to all of this, I can honestly say, it made me feel physically sick.
Now we’re in a rare time for our country – an employee-driven market. For once, employees can safely negotiate what they want and need without the fear that there won’t be another opportunity for them down the road if they decline. And it is driving some employers absolutely mad. Gone are the days where people can either accept meager wages or do without. Our fast food restaurants are paying $17/hour; our general labor jobs are clocking in at $19/hour on average, and if you add even one skill to the equation, you are looking at a real, bonafide living wage for some of these people.
Some of my clients transitioned into this rare but real phenomena gracefully. They increased their wages, remained competitive, and have kept on keeping on. Others, however, have not.
At least once a week, I hear from an employer complaining to me that the candidates aren’t worth the $X/hour the company is offering. I’ve tried to gently explain that wage parameters have changed, but it often falls on deaf ears. Instead, I have no choice but to keep trying to find a diamond for fool’s gold prices. It is frustrating.
Here’s the thing. We have found ourselves living in a country that believes only some of us should sacrifice anything, and it should never be the people on top. It never occurs to the employers and managers I’m talking to that they would never in a million years give up some of their wealth to ensure their employees at the bottom could make enough money to support their families. They want to complain about a lack of loyalty while they themselves seem completely unfamiliar with the concept. They begrudgingly increase the amounts of money they pay, but to make themselves feel better, also increase the skill set to go along with it, thus making it again impossible to fill the jobs they hope to fill. They will complain about gas prices and inflation, without taking even a minute to reflect, those increases won’t change anything in their specific lives or behaviors. On the flip side, a person making “appropriate wages according to their superiors” doesn’t have any extra money to put in a gas tank, and their groceries are down by half now. Increasing wages to match increasing costs isn’t a handout – it’s common sense.
I feel like screaming at them sometimes. I’m not interested in hearing about your non-problems, and it isn’t my job in life to make sure to find you labor you can exploit. If you can’t pay people a wage they can pay their needs with in whole, then maybe you shouldn’t be in business.