If you’re looking for reasons why smoking cessation is the most popular trend in the job market, don’t look for answers in business news sources.
Try the world of sports.
Some of the terrific moves of high-profile college football coaches show us just how loyalty to an employer is a losing game plan. I can’t think of the less-discussed reason why 4 million American workers quit their jobs in October – up 25% over the year.
Note that in the nation’s top two football programs – Oklahoma and Notre Dame – successful, high-salary head coaches rushed into new performances overnight with scant warnings or goodbyes.
And their 2021 seasons, both of which were quite successful, aren’t over yet. Call me “old school”, but I remember people giving me at least two weeks’ notice.
Obviously, the new employers of these trainers – USC and Louisiana, respectively – had little doubt that the new employee would act so brazenly. The message of these staff members of commitment, especially to young people, is alarming.
Yes, I am fully aware that loyalty is a two-way street and sport is definitely what you have done for me lately.
The University of Miami, for example, put its soccer coach in an extremely uncomfortable position, essentially saying that they would leave him unless another coach quit his job and went to a Florida school, which he did.
Let’s also acknowledge that American football isn’t the only sports industry with no job security at the top of the ladder. Three professional ice hockey coaches have already been fired in a season that is not even half finished.
Athletics can often be an overused and bad metaphor for the business world. Yet the typical boss – whether it’s a family store or a corporate giant – knows that today’s workers think a lot like the “free agents” of the sports world: the best deal wins.
Quitting smoking is not always a winning strategy.
My reliable chart shows me that in the early days of the economic icing of the pandemic, the country’s smoking cessation rate fell to a seven-year low of 1.7%. Executives were aware of this, and the typical wage increase fell to 2.6% – the smallest increase in three years, according to the federal cost of employment index.
But as the country’s health and wealth recovered in 2021, the layoff rate surged to a record 2.9% this summer. And it is probably no coincidence that the growth in wages for the year was 4.6%.
You don’t need an MBA to realize that gambling the job market is Capitalism 101. But moving jobs in 2021 isn’t just money maximization. Layoff statistics by industry show a clear trend: workers don’t want to do business with other people.
My robust spreadsheet showed that businesses with high levels of customer engagement – a challenge in a pandemic world – had the highest growth in layoffs.
Start with workers in the arts, entertainment and leisure industry, an industry hit by pandemic business restrictions. In October, there were 87,000 layoffs across the country, which is 58% more than in a year.
A huge portion of the troubled tourism, hospitality and catering industries left 806,000 people, a 43% increase.
Private educational services, such as tutoring or vocational schools, dropped out 52,000, an increase of 49%. Personal services, the category of “other” services, were abandoned by 133,000 people, which is 36% more than in a year.
698,000 people quit their jobs in retail, up 32% over the year.
For most of this century, bosses seemed to dominate the job market.
Trade unions have lost power. Concerns about outsourcing or other problems in the workplace made workers feel timid. And the “don’t swing” mentality helped others cope with the headaches of “work and life”.
All of this was exacerbated by the Great Recession. Recruiters had a variety of apps to choose from, and employees knew this so they stayed loyal. Wage increases, which typically exceeded 2.5% per annum for much of the 2000s after the recession, barely exceeded the same level until the end of the 2010s.
Then think about your smoking cessation rate. Voluntary layoffs peaked in 2006, shortly before the economic collapse, at an average monthly rate of 2.2% of all workers. By 2009, in the middle of the recession, layoffs accounted for just 1.3% of the workforce as employers were just happy to receive that paycheck.
However, sustained economic growth after the Great Recession ultimately changed the dynamics of the relationship between bosses and workers. The labor market got rid of most of the unemployed, while more and more people were retiring in an aging country.
Long-running discontent in the workplace began to simmer even before COVID-19 rewrote the guidelines for career management. The peak smoking cessation rate in 2006 was finally reached in 2018 and again in 2019. After the 2020 economy largely recovered, workers began to say goodbye to their boss at a historically rapid frequency.
Why has loyalty dropped? Well, I invite you to think, like many sports fans, when their favorite team is defeated.
Coaches are to blame for everything.
Jonathan Lansner is a business commentator for the Southern California News Group. You can reach him at [email protected]