There are many reasons why people are choosing to quit their jobs in record numbers. While some of the catalysts for this trend are more complicated than others, is it possible that burnout is an underlying factor in many cases? In this segment of Backstage Pass, recorded on Nov. 15, Motley Fool contributors Jason Hall, Rachel Warren, and Toby Bordelon delve into this question and respond to a member's comment.
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Jason Hall: Here's another thing. I just saw, where did it go? From Mike, from ProShopGuy pointed out something that I think ties into all of this. I'd love to hear both of you way into this because I think this really to me, this is like right at the crux of so much that's happening in the labor market. Overall production of goods and services are above pre-pandemic levels. We have a smaller workforce employee at this point. This a reflection of the old traditional work has a very unproductive culture. Too many meetings and social interactions.
Are we experiencing bad, measurements? I think what's happened and this is my view from a lot of people have talked to in different industries, productivity is much higher. People are getting crushed. The reward for good work is more work. I think we're getting close to a tipping point in a lot of industries. Obviously, a lot are past that tipping point with the resignation numbers. Thoughts, guys?
Rachel Warren: I'll jump in. That's a really great comment,ProShopGuy, I think it's a combination of factors. I agree that it seems like oftentimes in the modern corporate world you succeed and you're given more work for your efforts. But I think in many cases, those complaints, that's common that we're seeing through 'The Great Resignation', perhaps while you're not being given compensation that matches up with that amount. I know that a lot of people are quitting their jobs because they're like, you know what? Workers have leverage right now and I can probably find an employer that's actually going to pay me more for the work I'm doing. I do think that's a big part of it.
I think it's interesting going back to what I was saying before, some of the industries where you're seeing the highest quit rates are the industries that have had the most concerns for workers over the year. I think it makes complete sense that that's where we're seeing a huge surge and workers leaving their jobs.
I think workers, maybe also, are looking at the landscape now, the hiring landscape, and they're seeing that they have the bargaining power. Because companies of all sizes across all industries are clamoring for talent and are having trouble sometimes finding the talent they need, and that gives people that are searching for jobs far more leverage than they've had in the past. Yeah, that's my take on that.
Jason Hall: Toby. Bad measurements, changes in culture or what do you think here?
Toby Bordelon: I think some of that might be measurements. I am not convinced we actually have a smaller workforce right now. I know the numbers would suggest that's the case. But I have my doubts. I think people have talked about this forever. Like the measure of metrics on unemployment aren't great and they miss some people. I'm not sure that our system captures necessarily the way people are working. I'm not sure it captures freelancers, I'm not sure it captures contractors accurately.
I don't know. Maybe it is. Maybe we actually need a few people working but the very very tight job market suggests that's not the case.
I think we are more productive, generally. I think that's absolutely true. I think that's only going to increase as automation picks up. We were having debates with friends about increased automation is going to be terrible because it means less job opportunities. People aren't going to get work and it's going to upend society.
Jason Hall: Nothing has happened in the way anybody predicted it.
Toby Bordelon: Exactly. I was not convinced then.
Jason Hall: Nobody's mad because the robots took their jobs.
Toby Bordelon: We're going to open up opportunity. I don't think it's the case -- because the easiest job to automate is the one that nobody wants, because it's the one you have to automate. There is this driving need behind that. If you don't automate it, it won't get done because it's economic.
Jason Hall: It's economic incentives.
Toby Bordelon: That's where the focus, generally, always is. That's where it makes sense to spend your dollars. It doesn't make sense to spend the money automating a job where it's easy to find someone to do it. Eventually you might do that, but you don't focus on that. That's not a need.
I think we're seeing that right now. There's massive opportunity for people. We continue to automatic out of need, not because we want to do things cheaper or replace people. The automation we're seeing right now is -- there's no other way to do it.
I think it's going to continue. I think the opportunity is just going to explode. I think we're going to have new industries, new jobs that we can't even imagine right now. I'm more concerned about our ability to find enough people to do the work that will exist than I am about finding enough jobs for people to do. I think that's bearing out right now. It's what we're seeing.
Jason Hall: Just a last comment on this before we hit our third topic and then we can hit a couple of more questions before we bring it home with our fourth and fifth topics is, unskilled labor and people on the margins have been losing economic opportunities since the first time somebody figured out how to hang up plow off the back of an ox. It's always been the march of progress. Is that the lowest skilled labor is the first laborer that gets harmed by new technology. It's happened every single time.
Then in aggregate society benefits. That's just the way it goes, right. But I think this was the one comment I wanted to make in regard to Mike's post was, I think the thing that's the challenge right now is we're looking at one side of it. We're looking at productivity per worker, but we're not looking at input per worker. That's what's driving this. That's why people are getting so burned out. It's because, yeah, productivity has gone through the roof, but highly productive workers are getting rung out. I think that's the thing. I think that's really at the crux of this particular moment in time. But I think you're right, Toby, I think over time, this is the rising tide that's going to lift all boats.