Laura Gan

We’ve all heard someone say that the COVID-19 pandemic has created a “new normality”.

What is the “new normal”?

One aspect of the “new normality” – at least temporarily – is a significant shortage of manpower. For several months, employers had difficulty filling vacancies. As a result, businesses have reduced working hours, longer waiting times in restaurants, and store shelves are empty.

The “new normal” also raised a peculiar question: why is the unemployment rate in New Jersey one of the highest in the country with thousands of jobs? In our country, the unemployment rate is 6.3% compared to the national – 4%.

One thing is for sure – the common belief that people will return to work when the pandemic-related government unemployment benefit expires was wrong.

Study after study shows that there are many reasons why workers continue to stay away, such as health problems of themselves or family, desire to improve working conditions, early retirement, higher career aspirations and childcare issues.

The old way of thinking doesn’t work

Knowing these challenges we face when employers want to bring workers back to wages, they need to move away from thinking the status quo is not working and create a “new normal” workplace that solves problems that may hinder workers from return to work.

Take the issue of child care.

In short, since the beginning of the pandemic, childcare costs have risen and capacity has declined. Women disproportionately suffer from this – and remember that women make up half the workforce according to Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The current reality of childcare leaves many women with fewer options when it comes to work. It also means that many women in the childcare industry are being pushed out of the workforce, exacerbating the childcare crisis.

A This was reported by Reuters says a staggering 2 million women have left the workforce since the pandemic began.

The government has taken some steps to address this issue; it has provided about $ 700 million in new funding to child care centers and grants to families to help them afford child care. Unfortunately, this money has not yet reached orphanages or families.

Flexible schedule, work from home

Many employers can solve this problem faster by offering employees flexible working hours and adapting as much as possible to the work schedule at home. The pandemic has shown that workers can be just as productive both at home and in the office.

Taking it a step further, employers need to think about housing for women who want to return to work after pregnancy. The State Assembly’s Women and Children Committee recently drafted legislation that clarifies the current law that requires workplace placement for employees who need to express breast milk.

Employers should support this measure. It is unreasonable to provide a private place – not a public toilet – for a short time, several times a day, to allow a woman to meet her needs. This placement creates an attractive balance between work and life and also promotes an inclusive workplace culture that can reduce women’s exhaustion in the workplace.

Does the “new normal” job include higher salaries and entry bonuses? Yes, for those companies that are big enough to afford them (although such offers have so far been met with mixed success).

More attractive

But small businesses that can’t afford these extra costs also have options. They can overestimate the expectations of future employees and rewrite vacancy announcements to attract a wider pool of candidates.

Employers can create a more attractive and inclusive “new normal” workplace in a variety of ways – by adding simple team building programs and exercises, offering mental health breaks and mentoring programs where needed, and celebrating employees ’birthdays and milestones.

It’s time for employers to think differently. Break down traditional barriers and create a “new normal” workplace – flexible, comfortable and balanced – and one in which employees can thrive and businesses can grow.

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