A Solution to the Talent Shortage: Look Within

25 Jan, 2022 Nancy Grover


Sarasota, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – Motivations for work are changing; beliefs about what makes a ‘good job’ are diverging; automation is helping to rehumanize work; technological change is blurring the boundaries of the firm; and younger generations are increasingly overwhelmed. Those five themes were ascertained through a year’s worth of surveys and interviews with tens of thousands of workers in developed countries. 

The resulting report from Bain & Company reveals insights into the future of work and what organizations should do to attract and retain talent. The findings coincide with advice from several workers’ compensation professionals about the ways leading firms will thrive in the near and long-term future. 

What’s Happening

What’s clear is the pandemic has prompted many people to reassess their priorities, leading to what many have termed the ‘great resignation.’ In the workers’ compensation space, that’s exacerbating what was already an impending talent shortage. 

“Where I see it a lot is the adjusters,” said Mollie Kallen, president and CEO of MKCM Inc. “There’s been such an overturn of adjusters, and there always is, I think, but I see it way more.” 

During a recent webinar, Kallen said one issue for many adjusters is the desire to continue working from home. If their companies won’t modify their jobs to accommodate them, they are going elsewhere. “It’s causing a lot of turnover in claims which causes a lot of delays in care,” Kallen said. 

“People really are taking a second look at their lives and where they’re at and why they do what they do every single day and that realization that ‘if there’s a better opportunity, if there’s a better chance, if there’s a better environment, if I can do all this at home and still see my child or my puppy or whatever it may be that brings me happiness and joy,’” added Rafael Gonzalez, a partner in Cattie & Gonzalez. “That’s, I think, what folks are doing; essentially, they are reevaluating their lives and redirecting all of it and we’re seeing the effects.” 

For the Bain report, researchers interviewed more than 20,000 workers in 10 major economies. They also conducted 100 in-depth interviews, in preparing the report. 

“Much of the prevailing thinking about the relationship between workers and firms was forged in a very different world than the one we live in today, where options were more limited and relationships more transactional,” said Andrew Schwedel, partner at Bain & Company and co-chair of the firm’s think tank, Bain Futures. “Today’s environment requires a radical rethink of both the structure and the purpose of work, but to do that one needs to first understand the shifting motivations of individual workers.”  

Contrary to what’s typically driven workers in the past, money is not necessarily the main issue – especially for workers who remain in their jobs.   

“Dissatisfied workers rank compensation higher than satisfied workers,” the report said, “suggesting that money is more often a source of demotivation for workers who feel underpaid than it is a source of inspiration for others.” 

While compensation remains a top priority for most workers, the report said other factors are as or more important, such as interesting work, job security, flexibility and the ability to forge relationships. 

“As community institutions, such as sports clubs and volunteer associations, have declined in prominence, work has become a more important source of social connection,” the report said. “Similarly, as religious observance has fallen in the U.S. and Europe, new generations of workers may have turned to their careers to provide a sense of higher purpose.”

Along with overall shifting motivations for work, the report shows different people have different desires. Similar to other research, the Bain researchers found that while many U.S. workers want to continue working from home five days a week, the number of those who want to return to the office fulltime has risen steadily – from 16 percent in January 2021 to 22 percent in August.

While the pandemic has caused stress to many, younger workers are especially feeling overwhelmed. The report showed 61 percent of those under 35 cited financial issues, job security or failing to meet their career goals as major concerns for the next decade. In comparison, just 40 of those over 35 mentioned the same concerns.

Strategies for Organizations

Understanding what motivates one person from another may seem unreasonable. But there are at least three steps employers can take that can help them meet their talent needs.

  1. Look within their own companies. “Winning firms will pivot from being talent takers to talent makers,” the Bain report said. “This requires  scaling investments in learning, thinking laterally about career journeys and cultivating a growth mindset in their organization. While incumbents increasingly struggle against skills shortages, their insurgent rivals are finding creative ways to tap into the hidden potential of their people.”
  2. Rethink how employers treat their workers. “Leaders will stop managing workers like machines, instead supporting them to build personal capacity and create a career that matches their individual idea of a meaningful life,” according to the report. “As part of this, leaders will reorganize workflows to help individuals best utilize their uniquely human advantages.”
  3. Finally, address the current needs and desires of workers. “Winning firms will build an organization that offers a sense of belonging and opportunity for its many unique workers while remaining united through a shared vision and communal values,” the report said. 



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    About The Author

    • Nancy Grover

      Nancy Grover is a freelance writer having recently retired as the Director, Media Services for WorkersCompensation.com. She comes to our company with more than 35 years as a broadcast journalist and communications consultant. Grover’s specialties include insurance, workers’ compensation, financial services, substance abuse, healthcare and disability. For 12 years she served as the Program Chair of the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo. A journalism/speech graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University, Grover also holds an MBA from Palm Beach Atlantic University.

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