UNITED STATES—There has been so much conversation in the past 18 months about the workforce in America and how so many businesses are facing an extreme shortage of workers. There has been plenty of talk that the extra $600 and later the extra $300 a month in unemployment benefits was a direct reason. The argument can be made that may have been the case for many Americans at the start of the pandemic when we did NOT have a vaccine. I mean would you risk your life to earn a buck? I know I wouldn’t.

However, I did not have the luxury of getting extra money from the government because I got laid off or lost my job. Hell, I was an essential worker in addition to working my second job. I wish I had a month off from my job just to have a moment to breathe, which I don’t know what the feeling feels like. I told so many people I hope you’re using that extra money you’re getting wisely, putting it away for a rainy day, paying off bills, paying off debt, just doing whatever you can to get ahead.

I know there were some people who did, others who did not. However, the purpose of this column is to talk about the state of the workforce as we slowly usher out of this pandemic. I know so many people seem to think everything is over and we are back to normal, but I’m sorry America, I have to disagree. You don’t just return back to normalcy after a pandemic that many of us never witnessed in our life and we may never witness it again.

This greatly applies for the American worker. Look I have gone on and on and on about the federal minimum wage being too low. Not a single member of Congress can tell me with a straight face you can survive on $7.25 an hour. It is a slap in the face to workers, and if there is any Congressman or Congresswoman or Senator for that matter, who says you can, then why don’t you live on that wage for $7.25 an hour and tell me if you survive?

The pandemic did a lot of things. First, it forced businesses who were paying minimal wages to their workers to up the ante. I’m so sick of hearing that small businesses will go out of business if wages go up. No one is saying pay someone $20 an hour, but you need to pay a livable wage people. In addition, you can’t have one worker DOING EVERYTHING and think well they make a decent wage, even though that person is the reason your company has stayed afloat for so many years.

People took a hard look in the mirror during the pandemic, and asked themselves a simple question: AM I HAPPY WITH MY JOB? For a vast majority of Americans the answer was no. So it forced people to make a career change. I cannot tell you how many people just said, I’m going to take a gamble and chase after something more fulfilling, that pays more, that respects me more as a worker. Hell, a lot of companies didn’t give a rat’s you know what about their employees, as long as they were making money that was all that mattered. However, once that money flow stopped the realization hit them: did I appreciate the workers I had when I had them?

For a lot of businesses they did not, and unfortunately they paid a price as a result and some still are. They lost good working employees to other companies. Sometimes you have to realize and recognize your worth and a lot of time we don’t do that. We go to a job that we absolutely hate because we need a paycheck or we have this undying loyalty to a company that doesn’t reciprocate that loyalty back to you.

The year 2020 and part of 2021 crushed the economy in ways that so many people have yet to fathom. You don’t recover from an economic blow that we encountered in a month, a few months or a year, it is going to take years for many businesses to get back to a sense of normal. Retailers are struggling to find employees, the restaurant industry is really being hit hard, but then you have to ask the question, couldn’t they be paid a bit more in the service industry. I mean waiters and waitresses make like $3 per hour, plus tips, but when you don’t have people tipping how in the hell are you to survive?

Like nothing annoys me more than when a person tips with change. That is a slap in the face to the server. If you’re not leaving dollars don’t leave anything at all. There is a lack of respect in the industry that I don’t understand and I hope someday will vastly improve. People fail to realize you don’t have the right to dine out at a restaurant; it is luxury, so appreciate it while you have the opportunity to do it.

People have come to the realization that their self-worth matters and that does not mean because you think you deserve $25 an hour you’re going to get it. Trust me there are people OUT THERE who are lazy bums. Who refuse to work, don’t want to work and no matter what you do you CANNOT MOTIVATE THEM TO WORK! It is what it is and the sooner people grapple with that reality the better America.

However, there are jobs where people work their tails off and they are not properly compensated. We are at a crucial point America where companies are going under as a result of a lack of workers, but at the same time the businesses employing have to come to a realization it’s ok to share a bit of wealth. The business should not always profit off the workers hard work, the workers should see some of the benefits of that hard work too and a bonus every blue moon does not suffice. When you treat your workers like they matter they reciprocate those feelings back to you. When you ignore the worker and refuse to acknowledge their top-notch work, you get results that you are seeing now, people looking for work elsewhere and people just not working.

The biggest thing to note though is the fact that people are not just looking for work that pays well, they are looking for work that fulfills them. You want to have a purpose when you go to work and more importantly you want to feel as if you matter, and that was a question A LOT of people came to realize in 2020 and 2021 at the casualty of many companies.

Written By Jason Jones