Nobody Wants to Work Anymore

Steve Williamson, VP Digital Marketing and Content, eRep, Inc.
Monday, March 4, 2024
Nobody Wants to Work Anymore

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There is a common attitude among employers lately that nobody wants to work anymore, but is that true? What we do know is there is a huge disconnect between employers, workers, and applicants. We dive into the details.
There are three sides to every story. Yours, mine, and the truth.

Considering the current lament among employers that "Nobody wants to work anymore," let's dive into those three perspectives and see what's really going on.

Applicants and Employees

First, there is the job applicant and employee's experience:

  • Job listing says "entry-level" but requires 5+ years experience.
  • Job listing says "5+ years experience required" but pays entry-level salary.
  • Application requires submitting resume as a PDF but also requires applicant to enter every detail of their work experience into 134 different fields of an online form.
  • Applicant is ghosted by the employer.
  • Job is never intended to actually be filled, or...
  • Job has already been allocated to the boss's son-in-law but advertises the job anyway.
  • Job pays well below market wages.
  • Job pays minimum wage yet requires many years of experience and has a 60+ minute commute.
  • Job requires the employee to wear a uniform or tools but requires the employee to pay for it out-of-pocket.
  • Allowed to work from home during the pandemic, then required to return to the office even though their productivity was actually higher when working 100% remotely.


  • Only responses to job listings are people who don't speak the required language, or...
  • Applicant lives 1,280 miles away from a 100% on-site position (and won't relocate), or...
  • Applicants have completely unrelated experience and are clearly just spamming job listings, or...
  • Only 3 applicants respond to a nationally-posted job listing.
  • Applicant doesn't respond to email asking to schedule an interview, or...
  • An interview is scheduled but the applicant never shows up, or...
  • Applicant is offered the job but never responds, or...
  • New hire shows up the first day, only to never show up again, or...
  • After working for a month, employee gives a day's notice after accepting a job somewhere else.
  • Has to keep raising starting pay to attract new employees, then gets fined by the government for not raising existing employee pay to comply with pay equity laws.
  • Can't fire a toxic employee because they have no assurance they can hire a replacement.
  • Allowed employees to work from home during the pandemic, then half of them quit when asked/required to return to the office.

The Truth

Finally, let's get into what's really going on.

The opinion that nobody wants to work anymore is exactly that, an opinion. It is based on an individual's particular perspective. An employer that can't seem to retain workers or find new ones would be subjectively correct in holding the view that nobody wants to work.

The truth? People want to work, they just don't want to work for you.
Data clearly shows that employment is at an all-time high. Conversely, unemployment is at all-time lows.

People are working and doing so in record numbers. After decades of stagnation where wages failed to keep up with inflation, worker compensation is starting its slooooow crawl into "catch up" mode.

Executive compensation and accumulation of wealth in the top echelons of the economic bell curve is egregiously high. If a corporation lays off thousands of workers while simultaneously giving their CEO a $20 million bonus, word gets around. People want to work, they just don't want to work for you.


There is a perception from both the applicant's and employer's perspective that each party is being ghosted by the other.

Applicants ghost hiring companies and fail to show up to interviews. Employers ghost employees who apply or even go through a series of interviews only to never hear from the company again.

The truth? Everyone's experiencing ghosting, in all directions. It's not a generational thing nor is it endemic to particular companies or industries.

The reasons for failing to communicate or meet commitments are numerous and equally inexcusable — and equally fixable. Common courtesy goes a long way.

Wages and Inflation

Everything costs more. The employee must pay more for food and rent, so they must earn more to make up for it. If a competitor is willing to pay them $2 more per hour than their current employer, that $2 an hour has a tangible and important impact on their life. That employee leaving to work elsewhere is a likely (and understandable) result.

What does this mean? Their current employer must be willing to pay more to attract new hires. In the end, they lost a trained and experienced employee over a $2 an hour rise in pay, and ended up getting a new and less experienced new employee while having to pay that higher wage anyway.

The truth? Turnover is expensive no matter how you slice it. Paying market wages is cheaper than the cost of turnover.

The High Cost of Turnover

Most people don't like to change jobs. It's stressful and filled with uncertainty. What they want is to be compensated fairly and treated with respect, not like resources to be consumed and replaced seemingly on a whim (or to raise shareholder value).

Hiring isn't cheap and replacing an existing employee is even more expensive.

Employers don't like to lose employees. They've invested a lot of time training them in their way of doing things. Hiring isn't cheap and replacing an existing employee is even more expensive, yet many employers don't consider this cost of turnover in their efficiency calculations. Except for toxic employees, it's almost always cheaper to treat — and compensate — existing staff well than to replace them with the unknown quantity of a new hire.

It's a Relationship

In the end, the employment equation is that of a relationship between equals.

Employers need workers, and workers need employment. Without both, neither can function. When both sides recognize the value of the other party and treats that relationship as one between equals, the opportunity for both employer and worker to win increases.

Go to to learn more about the CVI or to take the Core Values Index assessment.

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Steve Williamson

Steve Williamson

Innovator/Banker - VP Digital Marketing and Content, eRep, Inc.

Steve has a career in project management, software development and technical team leadership spanning three decades. He is the author of a series of fantasy novels called The Taesian Chronicles (, and when he isn't writing, he enjoys cycling, old-school table-top role-playing games, and buzzing around the virtual skies in his home-built flight simulator.

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