Workforce Insights: Why Are People Leaving the Workforce?

leadership workforce May 04, 2023

As I’m out and about working with different executives, the conversation turns to the fact that there aren’t enough people interested in working in aging services – or healthcare in general anymore. It’s true and there isn’t one simple answer.   

First, the pandemic changed the individuals who made up the American workforce. I’m different and I suspect you are too. During my time working from home, I was reminded of my true why in life. My family is why I got up each day and logged in for work. My bonus was that I liked my work and the people I served.

However, I wanted to find something that would allow me to spend more time with family and friends – not increase the amount of time I spent with my work “family”. I needed flexibility and only wanted to put in 20-30 hours a week and still make the same amount of money.  I’m not alone in that desire and people are finding ways to make it a reality.

Second, healthcare is hard work regardless of the position you hold. Its either mentally or physically draining – or both. There isn’t a lot of room for flexibility and our mid-level to front-line employees can get paid more for less work elsewhere. What is the incentive to do this work? It has gone beyond an individual having a calling to care for people. That calling should not overshadow a person’s life. It should augment it.

Third, the rise of web-based work and personal development is paying real money right now. There are people making way more than they did in the corporate world and spending less time doing it. Search #sidehustle on any social media platform and you can find all the ways individuals are doing this. The opportunities are endless.

This is not an exhaustive list. In fact, I haven’t even begun to cover all the reasons. I heard a colleague mentioned on a podcast recently that organizations have had a slow creep of expecting more and more from their employees over the last 10-15 years but pay and satisfaction haven’t risen with the expectation. That bubble was always going to pop – the pandemic and technology just made it happen sooner.

Next week, I will dive deeper into aging services and the excuses some executives are making for not changing employment practices to keep up with how people want to work today.

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