January 22, 2023

Lauren Galli

Galli Gripes: Where Have All the Workers Gone?

Galli Gripes

Do you remember that horrible song in the nineties that features a woman woefully wailing about where all the cowboys have gone? I am considering doing my own special remix of that song and calling it “Where Have All the Workers Gone?”

You know what I am talking about here. EVERYONE is claiming to be short-staffed. We all feel the pain.  When calling companies, we get that dreadful on-hold message that tells us our wait time will be excessive — presumably because they have 30 people calling and two people working. Target, Walmart, and many grocery stores have shifted to primarily self-checkout.

I genuinely want to know…where are the workers?

Everyone is Short-Staffed. But Why?

Many businesses lost the lion’s share of their staff during the pandemic and subsequent quarantine periods. But when those employees did not come back, where did they go? The service industry took the biggest hit. Restaurants, hospitality, and other venues are limping along because their staff didn’t return. But why? Where are those people working now? How are they surviving?

As most of you know, I work in healthcare as my day job. We are also feeling the effects of the staff shortage epidemic in our industry. Our industry has a severe staffing deficit. The company I work for is one of the few businesses that kept running in the face of the unprecedented illness — and many of our workers got burned out. Healthcare workers put their well-being at risk daily during the pandemic and its aftermath. They've had to wear uncomfortable PPE for hours and hours and have dealt with insane shifts. So, I get that people are fed up, but did they all really quit their jobs? Seriously, where is everyone?

Why Are Good Workers Hard to Find?

In the years following COVID’s worst days, I have noticed that good workers are hard to find. However, it is even harder to make people work! Some of our hardest workers split when the pandemic happened for several reasons. For example, nurses and surgical techs can make crazy money as traveling healthcare professionals.

As staff members have left and we’ve acquired new ones to replace them, we’re discovering that some new employees want credit for the responsibilities in their job descriptions even though they’re not performing them. These new hires choose to stay on their phones all day and hide — and do not even get me started on the staff who call off for no good reason. However, veteran workers (people over a certain age or maturity level) are stuck working overtime or get called in on their days off. And we wonder why the medical system in this country is a mess!

Is Anyone Willing to Work?

Sadly, I’ve found that many people want something for nothing. We are experiencing a generation of workers who expect extra support or praise simply for doing what they are supposed to be doing.

However, there is a far worse ilk of people: thieves.

Yes, I said thieves. I recently experienced something that made my blood boil. (Fair, it does not take a lot to make that happen, but I digress.) I was robbed via GrubHub through Venmo. Someone treated themselves to almost $300 worth of food using my account on New Year’s Day, and I am STILL fighting to get my money back.

The biggest disappointment is that I worked for that money. I worked hard. I worked seven days a week, earning every penny. And they stole it from me. So, because someone wanted something for nothing, I am fighting with GrubHub and Venmo to reclaim my hard-earned cash.

Can You Shed Light on This Dilemma?

Someone, please explain to me what has happened and where the workers have gone. Certainly, they didn’t disappear into thin air! I imagine some of them probably switched careers, and I wish them nothing but the best, but then the short-staffing issue should eventually even out, right?

Do you have similar questions? Have you experienced similar circumstances in your line of work? Do you have any good theories on where everyone who used to work has gone? I welcome your thoughts!

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