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The history behind the phrase: ‘no one wants to work anymore’

We have all heard the phrase “no one wants to work anymore,” but the fact is: it’s not new, and there is a way to fix it.

People at work on laptops

No one wants to work anymore.

We hear it everywhere. In notes posted to storefronts, in news articles, and even on the lips of people you talk to every day.

Take a minute to examine the past use of this phrase historically and one will notice that it’s attached to something. No one wants to work anymore “unless” XYZ. That “unless” is the key word that often gets overlooked.

Let’s face it. Life, for most people, whether you’re a business owner looking for employees or a person job hunting, is hard right now. Inflation has soared to an all-time high causing the cost of living to jump higher than Bohdan Bondarenko.

The pandemic has changed people’s outlooks and values. No one wants to show up to a job where their health is not of any consequence to others. No one wants to show up to a job where they don’t matter. Read that again.

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Instead of finding offense in that last statement, start asking questions. This is marketing 101 – the employee version. When it’s the customer or client that isn’t buying your products or services, what do you do? You start digging.

What are their struggles and pain points? What could my business do better in order to relate to my ideal client? What lights them up? All the questions we ask about our ideal client can be used as stepping stones for your ideal employee.

If a business is large enough to have a marketing department, then use it to generate ideas for retaining employees. If you’re an entrepreneur, you probably don’t have that luxury, but here’s a tip.

An even better idea would be to start asking current and past employees about their experiences. You may not like the responses, but feedback is a part of growth. Separate the person from the business and find out what you can learn. What are their daily experiences that cause problems? How can you help each other?

That does not mean looking for an employee that resembles something closer to a horse with a magic horn. Look for someone that can meet most of the important criteria. And rethink what’s teachable and what’s not.

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A growth mindset is a lot harder to teach than a fixed mindset. Challenge yourself to consider an applicant that you might normally dismiss.

The disconnect between employees and employers regarding the current work status highlights the inability to pivot. You don’t have enough employees? What can you do differently? You don’t like your job? What can you do to make it better?

Don’t fall back on the trope that “no one wants to work anymore”, because that’s not true.

It’s easy to blame someone else, but much harder to look in the mirror.

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Jessica Martin escaped from Texas to Austin to receive her degree in English from the University of Texas. When she isn't writing, you can find her outside playing with her kids, camera in hand.

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