Readers’ Forum: Calling all businesses’ attention

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If you have recently driven down State Street in Utah County, you might have noticed something on the side of the road. “Now hiring” signs are found outside of many businesses, especially fast food. What happened to the employees who used to work there? The COVID-19 pandemic hit the fast-food chains hard and many people left those jobs. This is hurting the economy in many ways and is evident through high gas prices. 

One of the reasons people may have left their jobs is because they found a better one. Businesses and CEOs should offer better work environments, including benefits to their employees. This could help and encourage more people to go back to work since the pandemic began. Labor shortages can be seen in almost every industry. The effects of employee shortages can be seen through inflation as well as supply chain shortages. 

Supply chain shortages aren’t only caused by the pandemic. A shortage of workers is because of low pay and unpleasant work environments. On top of that, because there are not enough workers that move shipment containers into the seaports, those goods must be redirected or wait to be delivered at some other point in time. This is a huge problem. 

Fast-food jobs are known to be grimy and last-resort options when searching for a job. The labor shortage in the food industry could be explained for two reasons. Statista states that, first, the employee wanted to pursue another job and second, the employee attended school. These factors could be correlated with the shortage of employees in the food industry, but low pay and unpleasant work atmospheres do not attract employees in any shape or form.

The effects of the pandemic reach far beyond the goods found in a grocery store. It has also affected the prices of gasoline and how much can be imported into the U.S. According to Brookings Institution, more than 115 million cars are driven on America’s roads every day. That’s 115 million people or more spending money on gas to commute to work and school or run errands. CNBC reports that gas prices are at an all-time high in seven years. This is a setback for many commuters who spend at least $3 per gallon.

Another example of labor shortage can be found at BYU. Young adults, particularly those at BYU, are witnessing the labor shortage within the university community. As of Jan. 10, there are 437 job listings available to BYU students. Before the pandemic, these positions would have been filled in a heartbeat. Now, the food court is filled with hungry students waiting for their food in long lines because of the lack of student employees. The domino effect of labor shortage within BYU goes beyond the food court and into the vending machines found across campus. Most of the time, they are empty and have minimal options. If BYU would offer more benefits to the students, more would apply and fill those job listings. 

Some may say that entering the workforce may be frightening for health concerns and safety. There are many people who will not go back to work because they say they can wait for better opportunities to come their way. An additional argument is that businesses cannot afford to incorporate benefits into their budgets. Money may be tight, and it might seem impossible to include benefits because other fast-food businesses do not offer them. Others may argue that CEOs shouldn’t offer more benefits and have cuts in their paycheck because they work hard for their income.

The only way to help the economy get back on its feet is for executives to offer better benefits for their employees. As more employees decide to come back to work, more money will flow through the economy. This will eventually help gas prices come down, as well as help local businesses with their employee turnover rate. Businesses can afford to include benefits and upgrades to their restaurants. According to salary.com, the median annual salary of a fast-food chain executive is $781,600. By prioritizing benefits for employees in reducing take-home pay for CEOs, employee recruiting and retention can drastically improve. 

By holding businesses and CEOs to higher standards of offering benefits to their employees, workers will be attracted to reenter the workforce and remain employed. Better work environments will ensure jobs are safe to work at, as well as incite workers to not leave for other job opportunities. 

Calling out businesses for their low-grade benefits and work environments can be beneficial for workers, as well as the economy in general. Companies must hold themselves to a higher standard to get people excited to work again. This is a team effort, but it all starts with people at the top. 

Bailey Simons

Manti, Utah

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