Tough times hiring, retaining workers could persist


In this current stressed-out environment, the future of work is — in one word — short.

And it is short in multiple ways, said Justin LaBorde, senior vice president at Kantar, a consulting firm that performs and compiles research regarding consumer and employee attitudes and behavior. LaBorde spoke Wednesday at the American Financial Services Association Vehicle Finance Conference & Expo.

For example, said LaBorde, it’s much more difficult to predict the future beyond a year or 18 months. With COVID-related ups and downs especially, consumer and employee attitudes and behavior are changing quickly — and sometimes changing back again, he said.

In addition, LaBorde said, employees and job applicants are showing an attitude researchers call “short-termism.” That is, employees are so preoccupied about the short term, they don’t respond as older generations did to long-term promises of stability.

He said companies should talk to employees about mental health and “how we can be there for you, six months, or a year or two years. It’s not about any promises of stability.”

Another way the future of work is short is that “loyalty is fleeting,” LaBorde said.

“Employees are exceedingly ready to ditch bad relationships … and that includes work, when there are better alternatives out there,” he said.

While LaBorde didn’t cite auto retail or auto finance specifically, his data on the general trends and attitudes about employment could spell trouble for a working environment that’s notoriously high-stress with long hours.

In a follow-up conversation, LaBorde said one foreseeable problem is that by comparison, other industries can offer less stress and flexible and shorter hours.

LaBorde said that in almost any working situation, including auto retail and auto finance, “there are still ways of being flexible.”

Fed-up consumers and employees want what LaBorde called a fresh start, like a computer reboot.

Some consumers and employees want “control,” he said. For example, people who were satisfied with how things were before the pandemic want “things to go back the way they were.”

Some consumers and employees want to “delete,” LaBorde said. A lot of people report they have taken stock of their lives since the pandemic started and want to ditch possessions, relationships, habits and jobs they realize are not a good fit.

Others want to “alt,” or find alternatives, such as a hybrid work arrangement splitting time between home and the office. Many consumers and employees pursue more than one of those strategies — or even all three.

“They are rebooting their lives,” LaBorde said.

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