Small businesses say their revenues are plummeting as they’re forced to turn down business because of the labor shortage

closed store
Businesses have cut their hours because they don’t have enough staff.

  • Businesses are cutting back on their services because of the labor shortage.
  • Those affected range from a cleaning company in Virginia to a dog-walking business in Georgia.
  • Even though the service cuts cost them customers, they don’t have enough staff to operate as usual.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Laughing Pets, a pet-sitting and dog-walking company in Atlanta, Georgia, turned down a holiday job worth around $2,500 because it couldn’t find enough staff.

“We get, on average, four new inquiries per day and we have to turn all of them away,” its owner Karen Levy told Insider.

She said that she used to hire 12 members of staff, which has fallen to just five. As well as turning away prospective customers, she’d had to suspend some visits to long-term clients, too.

“I may never get those clients back,” Levy said, adding that she was even grateful for cancellations because it meant her remaining staff wouldn’t get burned out.

Levy isn’t alone. Other businesses small across the US have also resorted to dramatically slashing their opening hours or cutting back on their services – both because they can’t find enough staff to operate as usual and because labor is getting more expensive. Nearly a quarter of small and medium-sized businesses said in a poll by Alignable they’d reduced operating hours to cut payroll expenses.

At Maid to Sparkle, a residential cleaning service in Richmond, Virginia, the workforce has fallen by roughly half, according to owner Jonathan Bergstein.

As a result, the company is cleaning between 15 and 20 houses a day, down from 30 pre-pandemic, he said.

He said that he had to turn down business and reschedule loyal customers, who he feared he could lose to a competitor.

“Every morning we have to decide who will be cleaned and who will not be cleaned,” Bergstein said.

He said that the labor shortage and the resultant drop in capacity meant that Maid to Sparkle’s gross profit had dropped by between $1,000 and $2,000 each week.

Before the pandemic, Maid to Sparkle made around $750,000 a year in gross profit, Bergstein said.

“Now we’ll be lucky if we gross maybe $300,000,” he said.

Debra Marsteller is the CEO of Project Independence, a medium-sized nonprofit in California that works with adults with developmental disabilities. She said that the organization had lost around 30% of its staff.

“This is why I’m up in the middle of the night,” she said.

The labor shortage meant that the organization was having to reduce support to some adults in supported-living facilities, according to Marsteller. Some may move to other agencies as a result, Marsteller said.

“Normally, we try to move our higher-need independent-living individuals into our supported-living program, but this has become less possible due to staff shortage and the inability to attract new staff to meet the increased need for daily support shifts,” she said.

And Laborjack, a labor-for-hire company in Colorado, told Insider it expected to turn down jobs worth between $300,000 and $500,000 in 2021 because it can’t find enough workers.

Laborjack’s owners said in July that it had been able to raise prices, but had had to put up wages and pay out more bonuses to attract more workers.

“Our margin has decreased despite the fact that we’re increasing prices, just because we’re trying to pay out all these bonuses,” co-founder Blake Craig said.

The owners of small businesses are in many cases cutting down how many hours they spend managing their business to instead provide labor themselves.

Bergstein said he was cleaning houses for around five hours a day, while Levy said she spent around 30 hours a week doing dog walks and pet visits, on top of running her business.

“I can’t remember having a day off in the past few weeks,” she lamented.

Expanded Coverage Module: what-is-the-labor-shortage-and-how-long-will-it-last

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Forget the Great Resignation. Gen Z is driving a ‘Great Reshuffle’ as they quit their crappy jobs in hopes of a better career.

gen z worker
Gen Z is driving a “Great Reshuffle.”

  • The Great Resignation is more like a “Great Reshuffle,” thanks to younger workers, says LinkedIn’s CEO.
  • Job transitions among Gen Z are up 80% year-over-year. For millennials, they’re up by 50%.
  • Both generations graduated into recessions, fueling job hopping. Many are rethinking what they want at work.

The Great Resignation that you’ve been hearing so much about is really a “Great Reshuffle.”

That’s according to LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky in a recent interview with TIME. He said his team tracked the percentage of LinkedIn members (of which there are nearly 800 million) who changed the jobs listed in their profile and found that job transitions have increased by 54% year-over-year.

Younger workers are leading the way.

Gen Z’s job transitions have increased by 80% during that time frame, he said. Millennials are transitioning jobs at the second highest rate, up by 50%, with Gen X following at 31%. Boomers are trailing behind, up by just 5%.

Other research backs up the trend that the early- to mid-level employees quitting are seeking greener pastures in the form of a new job. In late July, a Bankrate survey found that nearly twice as many Gen Z and millennial workers than boomers planned to look for a new job in the coming year. In August, a study by Personal Capital and The Harris Poll found that two-thirds of Americans surveyed were keen to switch jobs. The majority of Gen Zers felt that way (91%), as did more than a quarter of millennials.

The patterns all make sense. Many boomers are retiring, and most Gen Xers are sticking to the status quo, firmly ensconced in the commitments that come with the mid-life stage. Younger generations aren’t typically as tied down, giving them more flexibility to job hop.

Gen Z and millennials want to switch to a better job

Older Gen Zers in their mid-20s and older millennials in their late 30s specifically have been inclined to switch jobs, since both cohorts graduated into the aftermath of different recessions. Millennials entered the blighted job market of the Great Recession, which sent many bouncing around from job to job. Gen Zers seemingly repeated this path when they walked into the coronavirus recession.

That’s because recession graduates on average start at “lower quality” jobs, Hannes Schwandt, assistant professor at Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy and author of the Stanford research, previously told Insider. That gives these cohorts a greater degree of mobility from one employer to the next, he said, helping them climb up the ladder to a higher quality job.

Recent college grads have had the toughest time finding a job this year, squeezed out of the labor market by younger teenagers, who are cheaper for employers, and higher and more experienced workers just older than them, Luke Pardue, economist at payroll and benefits provider Gusto, told Insider in July. It could be that some Gen Zers are taking whatever job they can get until they’re able to land something that’s a better fit.

Meanwhile, older millennials are quitting in droves for various reasons, per the Harvard Business Review: Employers may be less inclined to hire less experienced workers, creating more demand for these mid-level workers; this cohort may have postponed switching jobs until some of the dust settled from the pandemic’s economic effects; and the pandemic has caused some to reevaluate what they want in both their job and in life.

But the pandemic has caused people of all ages to reconsider what matters most in life, ultimately causing the workforce to shift.

“You have employees globally who are rethinking, not just how they work, but why they work and what they most want to do with their careers and lives,” Roslansky said. “And while this reshuffle of talent will most likely play out for another year or two, I believe it will ultimately settle back down.”

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What it’s like to be a wind-turbine technician, where workers start for the good wages and stay for the adrenaline and panoramic views

A rope access technicians stands on top of a wind turbine
  • Energy companies like GE and Vestas rely on legions of technicians to keep wind turbines working.
  • An outage of just one tower can jeopardize a company’s service contract at a 54-tower field.
  • Andrew Slate, who has worked in the industry for five years, described a typical day on the job.

There are more than 65,000 land-based wind turbines in the US. To keep all of those pieces of equipment in service, large firms like GE and Vestas – and a host of smaller ones – employ legions of wind-turbine technicians, or wind techs.

There were nearly 7,000 wind techs in the US in 2020, and the occupation is one of the fastest-growing jobs tracked by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, with an expected 68% increase in new jobs by 2030. The base median wage is $27 per hour, or $54,000 per year, but overtime hours and other payments can significantly increase those earnings.

Andrew Slate is a newly hired wind tech for Vestas who has worked in the wind industry in various other roles for the past five years. He’s now part of a team that services wind fields in Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma, with some sites having upwards of 200 to 400 towers.

In an interview with Insider, Slate described the typical day in the life of a wind tech, based on his own experience. The following questions and answers have been edited for clarity.

Insider: What is your role now?

Slate: I report to the regional manager, and me and my cousin are on a crew together. We just jump from site to site in our region and help, whether they need us a week here in Texas or two days in Oklahoma.

Sometimes a tower takes 20 to 30 minutes, but it depends on the nature of the repair. If we do a gear-box swap up-tower, it could take us three days to a week depending on the crane company, the wind, and the weather. There’s so many factors that factor into completion of work.

What does an average day look like?

I wake up at 5:00 am to be at the site by 7:00 am.

You have your safety meeting first thing every morning to be aware of any new or potential threats coming such as dangerous weather, lightning, hornets in a tower.

After you find out what jobs you’re going to be doing for the day, you go out to the shop, load up your truck and hit the road. We always have two people at a tower no matter what, just in case somebody needs a rescue.

On a great day you usually get done about 3 or 4 pm. On a really bad day you may be there ’till 11 o’clock at night – you may have to work 18 hours straight.

Why would you need to work so late?

The customers sometimes want a base efficiency rate for what the towers are producing. If a site has 54 towers, and they’re rated at two megawatts a piece, you typically want 95% to 97% of those 54 towers at peak two megawatt production.

If the company doesn’t meet its goals, it can lose the contract for that site and another another large company will take over maintenance for the field.

A rope access technician carries out maintenance service on a wind turbine blade

What are the physical challenges?

Before you can work they have you free climb with about 40 to 50 pounds of gear, including the harness, the fall protection system, and some other things you may have to carry up with you.

Free climbing can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, but with a climb-assist system it takes me on average six minutes.

The towers are usually around 300 feet tall, and in the summer it can be pretty hot -upwards of about 120 to 130 degrees inside.

Can you see yourself doing a different job?

I know guys that started 15 years ago and would never ever dream of quitting until they retire. You build that awesome rapport with everyone around you and in essence it’s all about being your brother’s keeper and providing for your family.

Being on the road for so long does take a toll on your mental health, but you get addicted and crave the views and the adrenaline whenever you get up-tower. And the pay is great.

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Meet the childcare workers who love their jobs but are quitting over low pay and stressful conditions: ‘I just had reached a tipping point’

A teacher is reading to students. The teacher, children, and two other teachers are sitting on the floor and some children have their hands up to ask a question.
If childcare centers can’t find workers, parents can’t go back to work and the labor shortage gets even worse. It’s all a vicious cycle.

  • Childcare centers are having a hard time staffing up as workers leave for other industries with higher pay and better benefits.
  • Insider spoke to five current and former workers about what it’s like to work in early childhood education.
  • One former childcare worker said even though he enjoyed his job, he felt “mentally exhausted.”

A single mom in Missouri has worked as a childcare worker for nearly six years. She loves her job and the toddlers she works with. However, she’s at a breaking point and is applying for new jobs.

Like many Americans, she’s stressed, exhausted, burned out and underpaid. The lead toddler teacher, whose name and employment is known to Insider, said her job has become less rewarding during the pandemic, and she’s hoping to find a better way to provide for her two children.

The job search hasn’t been easy. She used to look forward to going to work every day, and she loved guiding them through developmental milestones. She’s grieving that loss.

“I love the connections that I used to be able to make with the families and with the kids,” she said. But, even so, “I just have to look out for my own well-being.”

She’s applied to apprenticeships in welding, carpentry, urban forestry, and manufacturing. With a few interviews under her belt, she’s hoping to get the training she needs to transition to a different – and better paying – sector.

Insider spoke with five current and former childcare workers, most of whom requested at least partial anonymity because they are still in the process of leaving their jobs. All of them said that while the work is rewarding, the low pay and high turnover make it stressful. With the pandemic creating even more tension and health risk, experienced workers like the Missouri teacher are thinking about leaving behind a job they just can’t afford to love anymore.

‘The job that I absolutely love doesn’t pay me what I need’

One contributor to the childcare labor crunch is that many workers are expecting more out of jobs than they did pre-pandemic – especially when it comes to money.

Sarah, a worker in Appalachia, said her coworkers are leaving for better paying jobs. “That causes a lot of instability for the kids as well, because they need to form strong emotional attachments with the adults in their lives,” she said.

Her workplace also is short staffed. She said they’ve had job postings up for months, but no one’s biting – probably because of the low pay: “We are living in poverty, and we’re not being given breaks.”

Sarah said childcare workers should get at least $20 an hour. Instead, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the industry’s median wage is $12.24 an hour, or $25,460 a year. Preschool teachers make $15.35 an hour – $31,930 a year. That’s far below the overall median annual wage of $41,950.

An analysis from the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute finds that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would benefit over half a million childcare workers. The Missouri teacher said she recently got a raise and now makes that. Still, “I don’t even make enough to qualify to rent a new place working full-time,” she said.

Leaving daycare to work with higher age-group students comes with a pay bump. Elementary school teachers have a median pay of $60,940 a year, per BLS data, and there are better benefits.

A lead preschool teacher in Ohio who has worked in the industry for over a decade and said that they “love it to death.” They love going to school each day, and how the children are always so excited to see them. But that doesn’t make up for the pay.

“The wage that I make does not support my life,” they said. “And unfortunately, the job that I absolutely love doesn’t pay me what I need.”

They’re looking for other opportunities, specifically somewhere where they can make more than the $13 an hour they make now. They just applied for a call center job that pays $16 an hour: “And I can’t really say no to that.”

Insufficient supplies, training, vaccines, or bathroom breaks

Childcare workers just want some relief.

In some cases, that’s literal. Sarah told Insider that at her job, she was initially expected to work up to six hours straight without a bathroom break. There’d be no one else to watch the kids.

The lead toddler teacher in Missouri said there’s not enough supplies, no vaccine mandate, and it has been harder to teach things like phonics with masks on. They try to distance so that they can pull down masks to read lips and emotions.

She added the place seems to be hiring teachers that don’t “possess the qualities and characteristics that an educator should.” She said she’s seen things like an increase in time outs and “practices that are not developmentally appropriate.” All of this is contributing to her decision to seek out new employment outside of the industry she once found rewarding.

Another worker in Massachusetts isn’t planning to quit, but said she’s seen others leave the industry because of pandemic-related concerns. She added she’s seen people become nannies and others leave for other education positions and other jobs where they could potentially make more.

“The requirements that you need and the work that you put in doesn’t necessarily match the pay,” she said about why she thinks people may be considering leaving.

Qualified teachers quitting means instability in these preschools and childcare centers. But, according to the lead toddler teacher in Missouri, attempts to attract new workers with sign-on bonuses may also result in bringing in people who are only interested in the money incentive but might not stick around.

She said with the sign-on bonuses, “you’re just setting these kids up for failure,” explaining that some want the job for the incentive, and then leave. “They have a different teacher every week,” she said. “And it’s not good for them.”

Shane Dilello is one of the workers who already left. He loved working with kids, but left his job as an assistant teacher just a few weeks ago.

“I just had reached a tipping point,” he said. He struggled with the stress of the job, the turnover, and low pay and benefits. They took COVID precautions, he said, but young kids are still inclined to put their fingers in their mouths or wipe their noses – which didn’t help with the stress. He said that he was “mentally exhausted,” and felt that he had little time and energy to give to his own children.

“I figured it was in my best interest in terms of my health to go ahead and resign and seek employment elsewhere,” Dilello said. “As much as I did enjoy the job, and as much as I cared and loved the children whose care was entrusted to me, I just couldn’t do it anymore.”

He’s since started a new job as a receptionist in the healthcare industry.

“We love kids, we’re doing this because we love kids,” Sarah said. “But the world is making it extremely difficult for us to work this job and continue to work this job.”

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Understaffed restaurants are being forced to choose between closing earlier and shutting their dining rooms

A waitress wearing a face mask and serving a customer some coffee at his table in a restaurant.
The restaurant industry has been especially hard hit by the labor shortage.

  • Restaurants are closing earlier or shutting their dining rooms because of the labor shortage.
  • They say this means they can provide better and faster service and save money on labor.
  • But one cafe owner said some staff actually quit after she cut its hours.

If you’ve eaten out recently, you may have noticed that it was a little different.

Some restaurants are opening later and closing earlier, while others are shutting their dining rooms altogether.

In some locations this is because of rising cases of the Delta variant or a lack of ingredients due to supply-chain problems. But many restaurants say it’s because of the huge labor shortage.

Both independent restaurants and chains including McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A, and Starbucks have been changing their opening hours or pivoting to takeout-only both because they can’t find enough staff to operate as usual and because labor is getting more expensive.

Many of the restaurants Insider spoke to said they had little choice but to slash hours or shut their dining rooms.

Willie Degel, the owner of Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse, said its Manhattan West Side restaurant, which was open 11 a.m. to 11.p.m. seven days a week before the pandemic, is now only open 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday. The chain’s restaurants in Georgia are operating on “minimal hours,” too, he added.

“In the restaurant business you have to control every penny,” Degel said. He based the new opening times on the restaurants’ sales and labor costs per hour.

“Everything is numbers,” Degel added. He decided against closing Uncle Jack’s dining rooms because it mainly had sit-in diners.

Robert Cvetkovski, the CEO of Rhumcay Island Grille, a 700-person restaurant in Destin, Florida, cut back on most of its late-night entertainment.

“Due to the limited staff we had to decide the quality of life for the team members already overworked,” Cvetkovski said. He said he felt that eliminating nightlife and late-night hours would help create a more stable environment.

Robin LaForge, who owns Cheniere Shack in West Monroe, Louisiana, decided to shut his restaurant two days a week and close it an hour earlier on other days, after its staffing fell by roughly three-quarters.

LaForge said that this meant that customers were getting better service and food, though he said that this has contributed towards revenues dropping by up to 40%.

But swapping a company’s opening hours can actually make it harder to find staff. Mirna McCormack, who owns Korner Cafe in Lewisville, Texas, said that some staff quit after she changed its closing time from 9 p.m. to 3 p.m. because they could only work evening shifts.

Most restaurants planned on chopping their opening hours in advance – but some have closed randomly after finding themselves short-staffed. This includes Joey’s Chicken Shack in Pennsylvania, which closed for a day because it couldn’t get enough staff in. A burrito restaurant in Georgia also had to temporarily cut its opening hours after its entire staff quit.

Some restaurants have temporarily stopped dine-in or takeout

Bombay Mahal in Brunswick, Maine, closed its dining room and pivoted to takeout-only.

Owner Raj Sharma told Insider that during the pandemic the restaurant had a lot of new customers who only ordered takeout. Sharma said that the new model worked “very well.

Kelly’s Gingernut Pub in Cape Charles, Virginia, is one of the few others that did the opposite by stopping takeout. Co-owner Colleen Kelley said she wanted to prioritize dine-in customers to ensure service was quick and food was high-quality.

But sometimes orders were still slower than usual. “You ask [diners] to please be patient, but sometimes they forget,” she said. “They get mad, and then you get a bad review.”

Do you work in the restaurant industry? Got a story? Email this reporter at gdean@insider.com.

Expanded Coverage Module: what-is-the-labor-shortage-and-how-long-will-it-last

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Wisconsin’s Senate approves a bill allowing 14 year olds to work as late as 11 p.m., and supporters say it could help plug the labor shortage

A help wanted sign in a New York City restaurant
But business across Wisconsin say they’re struggling to find enough workers.

  • A proposed bill would allow 14 and 15 year olds in Wisconsin to work as late as 11 p.m..
  • Supporters say it could help plug the state’s labor shortage.
  • Federal child-labor laws say under-16s must stop work at 9 p.m. or 7 p.m., depending on the time of year.

Wisconsin’s Senate approved a bill on Wednesday that would allow 14 and 15-year-olds to work until 11 p.m. on some days – much later than current laws allow.

Supporters of the bill say it could help plug the state’s labor shortage.

Wisconsin currently sticks to federal child-labor laws, which stipulate that people under the age of 16 can only work between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. from June 1 to Labor Day, and between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. for the rest of the year.

The proposed bill would allow this group to instead work from 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on days before a school day, and 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. when the next day isn’t a school day.

It has now been sent to the Wisconsin Assembly for approval.

The bill would keep in place federal rules limiting teens to three hours of work on a school day, eight hours on non-school days, and six days of work a week.

It wouldn’t cover businesses that have annual revenues of more than $500,000 or workers involved in interstate commerce, who are instead covered by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

In testimony to the state’s Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform in June, Sen. Mary Felzkowski and Rep. Amy Loudenbeck said that the bill would help small businesses during the busy summer months.

“Businesses throughout the state see a massive increase in traffic during the summer tourist season, so much so that it can be difficult to find employees to work odd hours and seasonal times,” they said. As a result, businesses often hire young people, they said.

Felzkowski and Loudenbeck said that the current legislation meant some businesses choose to close early because their young staff can’t work late at night.

Hotel and tourism industry lobbyists are in favor of the bill, but it’s opposed by the Wisconsin AFL-CIO, a federation of unions.

The Wisconsin Restaurant Association said in June that it supported extending workers hours for teens to help solve staffing issues. CEO Kristine Hillmer said that restaurants across the state had been boosting wages because of their struggle to find staff, noting that some entry-level dishwashers were starting at $15 an hour or higher.

But the fact the bill wouldn’t cover companies with large turnovers, or workers who take credit-card payments, was a potential problem that made the bill “very complex from a compliance standpoint,” Hillmer said.

Wisconsin currently has nearly 3 million people in employment, per preliminary August data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics – roughly as many as it did before the pandemic hit. But businesses across the state still say they’re struggling to find enough workers.

The bill was introduced in April, when the US labor shortage wasn’t as bad as it is now. The bill wasn’t specifically aimed at the labor shortage.

Some businesses have tapped into younger workers to plug their labor shortage, like a McDonald’s in Oregon that’s been recruiting 14-year-olds.

Have you been impacted by the labor shortage? Got a story? Email this reporter at gdean@insider.com.

Expanded Coverage Module: what-is-the-labor-shortage-and-how-long-will-it-last

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Millions of sidelined workers won’t come back ‘unless the math makes better sense to them’

Starbucks Now Hiring sign
A ‘We’re Hiring!’ sign is displayed at a Starbucks on Hollywood Boulevard on June 23, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.

  • Sidelined workers could become a long-term drag on the US economic recovery, a Fed president warned.
  • A mismatch of expectations between workers and employers is also making it harder to fill jobs.
  • Many workers won’t return to the workforce until the numbers make more sense, he said.

The current complications of the labor market risk becoming a drag on the long-term economic health of the US unless employers and community leaders solve a “math problem,” Richmond Federal Reserve President Thomas Barkin said Tuesday.

In remarks at a workforce development symposium with the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, Barkin pointed to the roughly 6 million people who say they do want a job but aren’t actively looking for work.

“The best source of more workers is those on the sidelines,” he said. “And those on the sidelines won’t come back to the labor market unless the math makes better sense to them, whether it be child care, benefits, compensation, transportation or investment in education.”

Those sidelined 6 million people are in addition to the 8 million unemployed workers who have actively been looking for a job in the preceding four weeks. As the pandemic stretches on over 18 months, many workers have given up looking for jobs, leaving the labor force and bringing the official unemployment number down.

Barkin said he has observed four main barriers to people getting jobs: labor mismatches, family care, health coverage and employment incentives.

“All these issues existed before the pandemic, but it’s fair to say they have intensified in the last 18 months,” he said.

Beyond the more familiar mismatches of skills and location, Barkin said there’s a larger mismatch of expectations between workers and employers that’s making it even harder to get positions filled.

“Increasingly, we are seeing misalignment between the jobs available and the jobs workers want,” he said.

For starters, employees are seeking better pay and flexibility than was previously the norm from employers, but that’s only the beginning. They’re also expecting better treatment on the job as well as greater support and stability for their lives outside of work.

Right now, Barkin said the numbers simply aren’t adding up in the interests of many US workers, and that’s driving them out of the labor force. In order to bring them back, some employers have told the Fed they are revising their drug-testing policies, offering more training for new hires, and considering relevant career experience in lieu of a degree.

In addition, those employers who think more creatively about how to accommodate the needs of parents and caregivers or individuals living with a disability can gain access to a wider talent pool than those who don’t. Barkin pointed to Canada and Japan for having implemented successful approaches at inclusivity.

Barkin charged employers and policymakers with the responsibility for solving this math problem and improving “the real and perceived benefits versus the costs of employment.”

The US has enough people to power its recovery from the pandemic and return to growth, Barkin said, and it’s up to business and community leaders to figure out how to get them off the sidelines and into jobs.

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2 senior Amazon employees and an apprentice share their top tips for a job interview at the tech giant, including using data to prove your success

Andy Jassy
Amazon CEO Andy Jassy.

  • Amazon is known for its rigorous, behaviour-based interview process.
  • Three current employees shared their interview tips during a panel discussion on Tuesday.
  • You should know Amazon’s leadership principles and use data to prove your skills, they said.

Pay attention to Amazon’s leadership principles, use data to prove your skills, and ask questions – that’s the advice from three Amazon employees on how to succeed during an interview at the tech giant.

The company is known for its policy of only hiring “bar-raisers.” Amazon says it prioritizes traits over qualifications, and candidates are vetted through a series of behavior-focused questions.

At the Black Tech Fest on Tuesday, panelists discussed the realities of working in an Amazon head-office role. The three-day event is hosted by the UK non-profit Colorintech, which works to get people from underrepresented backgrounds into the industry.

Amazon employees talked about their career journey and were asked to provide their top tips on how to prepare for an interview with Amazon. Here’s some of the best advice from two senior Amazon employees and one apprentice.

Remember Amazon’s leadership principles

Andre Campbell, senior manager of global sports and entertainment at Amazon Web Services (AWS), said Amazon’s longstanding list of leadership principles are a guide for how Amazon and AWS do business. They include “Customer obsession,” “Learn and Be Curious,” and “Ownership.” Earlier this year, the company added two more principles to its list.

“I would recommend really looking at them, seeing the ones that excite you, and crafting career stories and experiences which really address a number of those leadership principles clearly in your preparation,” Campbell said.

Use the ‘STAR’ method

Lettie Ndlovu, a solutions architect apprentice at Amazon Web Services, said that applying the ‘STAR’ method can be a helpful way to craft career stories during your interview.

STAR stands for:

  • Situation you had to deal with
  • Task you were given to complete
  • Action you took to in relation to both
  • Result that happened, and what you learned from it.

It is a common technique for answering interview questions, and it’s designed as a simple framework for focusing on how your skills match a job description.

Ndlovu recommended preparing three to five examples. “Try to make them different and if you have negative ones, always have a positive twist at the end as to how you got a good outcome,” Ndlovu said.

Provide data to back up your words

Amazon is a data-driven organization, Campbell said, and “quantitative examples are highly valued” when you’re talking about your career experience.

For example, you might say you boosted the attendance of an event by 30%, Campbell said.

If you don’t have experience yet, clubs and societies can set you apart

If you don’t have direct experience yet, think about how to stand out and demonstrate the skills Amazon looks for, Grace Acquah, regional lead EMEA student programs, campus attraction, and engagement, said.

“List any sort of clubs or societies that you’re part of that could really demonstrate good leadership, teamwork and skills that could be applied in the world of work,” Acquah said. That could include volunteering.

Reach out beforehand

Use LinkedIn to connect with someone who is doing that job already at Amazon, and ask them for tips about what it’s like, Ndlovu said.

Networking is something Amazon recruiters recommend, Tom Lawrance, a former MBA recruiter for Amazon, previously told Insider. He said a referral will raise your chances of getting hired.

Ask questions and work out how you can fit the role

At the end of your interview you will be invited to ask questions about the role, Campbell said.

Think about those questions beforehand, and use them to learn more about operating within the role and the wider team, he said.

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More than 1,800 Washington workers were fired or left their jobs over the COVID-19 mandate for state workers

Moderna vaccine
More than 1,800 Washington state workers were terminated or left their jobs because of the state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, per OFM data.

  • Nearly 1,900 Washington state workers were fired or left their jobs due to the state’s vaccine mandate.
  • Gov. Jay Inslee said the deadline for state employees to be fully vaccinated was Monday.
  • The number to lose their job, quit, or retire over the mandate is about 3% of state workers.

More than 1,800 Washington state workers were fired or left their jobs because of the state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, according to Office of Financial Management (OFM) data released Tuesday.

In August, Gov. Jay Inslee issued a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for the majority of state workers, including healthcare workers, on-site contractors, teachers, and volunteers.

The deadline for these state employees to be fully vaccinated was Monday. Employees who don’t get the vaccine can be dismissed from work for failing to meet legal employment requirements, per the governor’s mandate.

Of 63,291 Washington state workers, 1,887 (3%) had been terminated or left their jobs over the vaccine mandate as of Monday, the OFM’s data showed.

Out of the 1,887 who no longer have jobs, 1,696 were fired, 112 resigned, and 79 retired, according to the data.

Nearly 90% of state employees subject to the mandate have verified that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, per the data.

The data also showed that 1,927 workers received a job accommodation allowing them to work in another position without being vaccinated.

Just over 4% of state employees, or 2,887 people, are pending verification because they’re in the process of either getting vaccinated, receiving a job accommodation, planning to retire, or awaiting separation from their agency, the data said.

“The high number of state employees who have gotten vaccinated is good news,” Gov. Inslee’s spokesperson, Tara Lee, told The Seattle Times in an email. “While we are sorry to see that 3% go and we wish them well, we are pleased that it is not higher.”

The Washington state police force announced on Tuesday that nearly 95% of its employees have complied with the mandate.

Meanwhile, Washington State University fired its football coach, Nick Rolovich, and four of his assistants on Monday after they refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

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Half of nurses said they’re thinking of quitting the profession within 2 years in a survey. Higher pay and better staffing could convince them to stay.

nurses covid-19 surge
Healthcare staff say they’re feeling burned out and emotionally exhausted after working during the pandemic.

  • Half of nurses said in a survey they were considering leaving the profession.
  • More than 90% said a shortage of nurses had made their job worse.
  • Many said that better pay could convince them to stay.

About half of US nurses said they may leave the profession within the next two years in a new survey.

In the survey of 250 nurses by ShiftMed, an on-demand staffing platform that connects nurses to healthcare facilities, 20% said they were either extremely or very likely to leave the profession within two years.

In total, 49% said that they were at least somewhat likely to leave. ShiftMed ran the poll between September 16 and 28.

Healthcare staff say they’re feeling burned out and emotionally exhausted after working during the pandemic, often in difficult working environments. Nurses say they’ve seen more physical and verbal abuse from agitated patients, Insider’s Allana Akhtar reported.

Some hospitals are having to limit how many patients they treat because of understaffing. The CEO of TaraVista Behavioral Health Center in Massachusetts told Bloomberg earlier in October that nearly a quarter of its beds were empty because of the labor shortage.

Ninety-one percent of the respondents to ShiftMed’s survey said they’d been negatively affected by the nurse shortage.

Just over half, or 52%, said they’d had to work more hours or longer shifts, while 45% said they’ve been given larger patient loads than was feasible. A similar proportion said that the shortage had affected their mental health and that they were worried patients weren’t getting the right care.

Of the nurses who told ShiftMed they may quit, 38% said they would switch to non-patient-facing roles in healthcare, while 31% said they’d leave the industry altogether. Around one in eight of the group said they’d go to college or a technical school so they could retrain for a different industry.

When these nurses were asked what would convince them to stay in the field, 59% said higher pay. The next most common reasons were better staffing levels so that patient care improved, more paid time-off, and a more cooperative work environment.

Some nurses said better shifts, a more flexible schedule, and fewer working hours could convince them to stay, too.

Just over 20 million Americans worked in the healthcare and social-assistance industry in September, per preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is around 728,000 fewer workers than in February 2020.

Some state and healthcare officials have warned that COVID-19 vaccine mandates could exacerbate staffing shortages. Houston Methodist Hospital, which mandated the shot for its staff, said in June that 153 workers quit or were fired over the policy, while Northwell Health, New York’s largest healthcare provider, said earlier this month that it had fired 1,400 employees who refused to get vaccinated.

ShiftMed’s survey shows that vaccine mandates remain divisive among nurses. Twenty-three percent of nurses said they’d be more likely to stay if their employer introduced a COVID-19 vaccine mandate, while 19% said they’d be more likely to stay if their employer scrapped their vaccine mandate.

Expanded Coverage Module: what-is-the-labor-shortage-and-how-long-will-it-last

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