Building a Culture of STAY: Responding to Workplace Trends in 2024

By Sarah McVanel, Chief Recognition Officer, Greatness Magnified

What is the workplace forecast in 2024? Do we have workforce shortages? Or does the 2024 economic outlook and what we’ve been hearing about in the news mean “the great resignation” was a blip that’s now in the rearview mirror? What are the workplace trends in 2024 and how do they differ by industry? These and more are questions we’ve been getting from our clients. Although we don’t profess to be economists, we would like to share with you how some of our amazing clients in important industries that keep our society going are still experiencing the pain and strain of workforce shortages and constant churn.

Understanding Workplace Trends of Today

Have you lost track of how many webinars, articles, and reports you read about the great resignation? And all of a sudden, it’s crickets. Were we wrong all along? It hasn’t gone away?

I have to tell you, this is confounding to me. Not only did I deliver many sessions where we helped unpack the great resignation and understand how essential recognition was in being able to keep great people. But then, to be told in countless articles, from magazines to newspapers to blogs, that the great resignation is over, well, I’m scratching my head.

Dear readers, are you finding we are totally over mass workforce shortages?

So maybe this is just a case of being ready for that term to be over. We’re sick of hearing it like the “new normal” got so tiresome during COVID. However, let’s not, as my mother would say, throw the baby out with the bathwater (although truth be told, perhaps that expression we should be rid of as well…talk about dark!)

For so many of my clients, and you may well be one of them, the great resignation is far from over. And taking our eyes off of the retention prize is to our detriment.

Here are some examples of industries that are still in deep peril. I share this with huge love and respect for each of these industries, and as I take you down this journey with me, if I’ve missed yours, please comment below. Here are industries with workforce shortages that continue in 2024.

Industry Workforce Shortage Trends in 2024

Childcare

In Canada, we have $10 a day daycare. A fantastic win for children and families. It is an absolute challenge for an industry with insufficient qualified people; we are 15,000 early childhood educators short in Ontario alone. One issue huge issue is we do not pay our childcare providers what they’re worth (in Ontario, it’s barely above minimum wage…and these are folks helping to prepare the next generation!) How will we attract more people and keep them in the sector? If only the great resignation and turnover issues were a thing of the past for childcare. And because it’s not for them, it should worry us all.

Healthcare

Countless articles, radio broadcasts, and LinkedIn articles have recently talked about the crisis in healthcare. If you have tried to go to your local emergency department lately, you’ll no doubt have experienced firsthand that not only have people left the sector to retrain, retire, or apply their clinical skills differently, but you will also have noticed that care needs continue to grow; short-staffed every shift, no break post COVID, compassion fatigued and burnt out. In addition to the lack of continued support for our providers after the massive outpouring of worldwide appreciation in spring 2020, our providers wonder if we’re still behind them. Shortages of healthcare workers were rough before COVID, and they are dire now.

Trades

Perhaps similarly to healthcare, during COVID, students struggled to find meaningful co-op placements and apprenticeships. I know my son didn’t feel comfortable finishing his trade program without being able to do the work. Half of his class quit before graduation day. Despite the volume of homes being built and renovations declining due to interest rates and a cooler housing market, we still have a huge shortfall of specialty trades. That means it will take longer for bridges and roads to get fixed, hospitals to be finished, and so on. A shortfall in the trades impacts every single aspect of our lives.

Transportation

I have the honour and the privilege of speaking for women in the trucking industry this coming September. Not only do we need more women and younger people in transportation, but we also need to take a good hard look at the average age of people in professional transportation capacities. During COVID, the average age of truckers was at retirement age, and although those numbers today are more in keeping with a typical bell curve, how are we sustainably ensuring that this field is attractive to women, young people, and more?

Developmental Services

Who is caring for some of our more vulnerable people? Many folks that I have met in developmental and related sectors know somebody in their family or friends circle who had a physical or intellectual disability, and this fuelled a passion for the work. Others have shifted into the sector from doing related caring work. Unfortunately, vulnerable people in our society are not always given the love and attention they deserve as human beings. The inequity in our society is reflected in not having a high enough industry wage. It’s an incredibly rewarding career with so many different aspects of where a job can go in the sector. We have not graduated enough PSWs, so when we’re already working from a shortfall, it doesn’t make a start or transition into the sector easy.

Medicine

Did your physician retire during COVID? Whether it was your family doctor, specialist, or perhaps an entire clinic, no doubt your family, like mine, has experienced the impact of people retiring, reducing hours or limiting their practice. We also saw a trend well before COVID that as a new generation of physicians enters the field, they, understandably, don’t want to sacrifice their family time, well-being and health for the job. Some studies show that younger physicians are working 4/5 the hours of generations gone by, which not only means we need 1/5 more graduates, but we also have a shortfall, particularly in key specialty areas like gerontology. Are we increasing the number of spots for physicians to train? Are we making medicine appealing in an increasingly litigious society? Are we valuing our physicians to the extent that they deserve?

Dental professionals

Dental hygienists, assistants, and practice leaders. Not only is the profession taxing the body, but it’s also one with less job security than you might expect. Perhaps because it’s been a female-dominated position, it’s harder to find full-time roles than in other healthcare fields. Add to this the fact that, according to CHDA, bullying is a far more common issue that hygienists deal with; for some, they might reach a crossroads and have to look seriously at their options. (If you want to read more about it, you can find a past article here.)

You may be looking at the list and wondering where your profession is on this list. After all, you, too, are experiencing the challenges of having too few trained and qualified professionals to meet the demands of your sector. And this is exactly the point we’re making. We’re not talking about the great resignation because, in all truth, some very specific micro-trends were coming to create that perfect storm. I’ve written about it often, so we won’t recap it here. However, we don’t need a fancy term to stress the importance of acknowledging and understanding the current reality of talent shortfalls.

What can be done about workforce shortages?

Study your numbers. If you don’t know the cost of turnover, here’s a calculator to give you a ballpark. Build the case within your organization, industry, sector, and community; raise public awareness, brainstorm solutions and maybe even lobby the government.

Let’s put an economic cost to it. Maybe that will help us to get serious about it.

Explore the projections. Many associations are actively studying past, current, and future trends and data to see where they will be in one, five, ten, and more years from now. It’s too easy to get caught up in today’s crisis and cross our fingers, hoping it will be better tomorrow. However, what is that saying? When is the best time to plant a tree? Twenty years ago, but the second best time is today. Let’s study projections now. Contrast to today’s reality. Then, create an ambitious plan of what you can do – and that might require lobbying – so that 20 years from now, you’ll be so glad you planted a tree today.

Recognize, recognize, recognize. You don’t want to lose a single person currently in the sector. That means we must appreciate and express gratitude regularly, sincerely, and innovatively. Thank people who came to work; I don’t make myself very popular when I suggest this, but if you are literally in crisis mode, and if people don’t show up to work, you’re sunk. Why not say thank them today for showing up so that they’re more likely to show up tomorrow? A thank you costs you nothing and yet pays in dividends.

At Greatness Magnified, the word of the year is “Stay.” Would you like to ensure more stay? Then you’re on the journey with us.

image of Sarah McVanel and a thought bubble that says Let's TalkWe’d be happy to tell you about the specific process we’ve created to help organizations and associations create a one-page, ultra-practical, and actionable Stay Plan. You can reach out to us by dropping us a line.

Thank you so much for what you’re doing to give people a reason to be proud of the important work they’re doing.

Check out these other great ideas to create your culture of STAY:

Disclaimer/Humble Brag Moment: 100% of this content was human-generated (by us folks here at Greatness Magnified). We are committed to authorship integrity and will inform you what percent, if any, is AI-generated.

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