The labor crisis is not just a fantasy of SME bosses over 50 who denounce all day long “those young people who don’t want to give a damn anymore”. This crisis exists and we see it appear in opinion polls.
A year ago, the phenomenon of “the great resignation”, identified in the United States, had alerted. Last year, nearly 50 million employees left their jobs across the Atlantic. We have since known that it was not really a question of giving up work, but rather of a “great reallocation”. Most of those who resigned have either exercised their right to retirement or found a job. The great American resignation is people who change companies to be better paid and better considered: nothing wrong with that. In France, the resignation rate is high, but not above its pre-2008 level (before the financial crisis triggered a recession and pushed up unemployment). This increase in resignations corresponds to the normal cycle of the labor market: when employment is very dynamic (like today), employees can resign more easily. Nothing new.
But the labor crisis, then? It exists, at least in France, and it seems profound. Ifop, mandated by Les Makers, has just published a surprising study, depressing in certain aspects, and which should, in any case, make us think. 37% of respondents practice the quiet quitting, that is to say that they respect their employment contract, but no more. Out of the question to exceed working hours or to be zealous. This proportion rises to 43% for those under 35. the quiet quitting sometimes has good reasons: excessive processes, useless meetings, demotivation linked to the lack of meaning and autonomy in the work. Companies clearly have a responsibility in this movement.
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Our fellow citizens are gradually turning away from their work
You cannot ask employees to be loyal if you are not; they cannot be asked to work a lot if the organization of the company prevents them from taking the initiative. But the Ifop poll shows that the quiet quitting is only one aspect of the problem. 45% of respondents work exclusively for salary. 48% consider that work is above all a constraint, more than a source of fulfillment (compared to 25% in 1993). 58% of respondents, if they received an income equivalent to their salary, would stop working. Finally, 74% of 18-24 year olds and 78% of 25-34 year olds support the idea of a right to be lazy. It is therefore not a fantasy: our fellow citizens, and the youngest in particular, are gradually turning away from their work.
This crisis adds a difficulty to our society, which already knows a lot. Indeed, our country may be tired of working, but its aspirations are higher than ever. The French want quality food that is not too expensive, a good health system, better equipped public services, supermarket shelves where nothing is missing… and their consumption shows that they do not seem ready for degrowth . Certainly, private and public investment in robotization, in artificial intelligence algorithms or autonomous transport can generate the productivity that would compensate for the reduction in working time to maintain the capacity of our country to serve the needs of its inhabitants. But this scheme remains, for the time being, fairly theoretical. These technologies exist, but they are not all developed and they are far from being integrated into our social and economic organization (no one thinks that we can replace the truck drivers who are missing by the thousands in the next few months with driverless trucks). It will probably happen, but we are not there yet.
On an individual basis, this crisis can be an opportunity for those who would like to seize it. Young people who are ready to get high, who are intelligent, fast, determined to take initiatives… will benefit from the golden bridges that companies will necessarily offer them. The law of supply and demand is implacable: the rarest and most requested profiles will see their market value soar. Companies will fight to attract and keep their Mbappé and they will put a lot of money on the table.
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“Quiet quitting”: the labor crisis affects an already struggling society
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