Workers can now choose best flexible jobs, say experts

Oct 14, 2021, 5:20 PM
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A help wanted sign is displayed at a gas station in Illinois. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

SALT LAKE CITY — Workers want flexibility in their work schedules and work locations. And with a market leaning in favor of employees, they can choose between the best jobs that work best for them, say two jobs experts.

The unemployment rate in the nation is the lowest it has been since the pandemic began. In July, Utah’s unemployment rate fell to 2.6% and was the second-lowest in the country. 

The US Labor Department said that resignations jumped to 4.3 million workers in August, the highest number dating back to December 2000. Where are these workers going?

“To other jobs,” said Mark Knold, Department of Workforce Services chief economist, who joined Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic to discuss the unemployment situation, now very much now in flux.

Employee market

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the business community closed down. The labor sector, at least in part, went idle. Then in the spring of 2021, sensing the pandemic had subsided, businesses opened back up. Then they had to re-shutter as the Delta variant of the novel coronavirus swept in.

Workers did not return to their jobs. And that created a gap between what businesses wanted and the available amount of workers.

Related: Is it time to change careers? 41% of workers are considering it

“So that makes a shortage,” Knold said. “Shortages make for opportunities for labor. People will quit their jobs and go find that better job because the opportunities are out there.”

He added that what is happening now in the labor market is “opportunity quitting,” not “frustration quitting.”

Paradigm shift

Dr. Tara Van Bommel, director and statistician at, also joined Dave & Dujanovic to talk about the changing landscape of employment in the US.

She said the pandemic accelerated the paradigm shift seen in the workplace today.

“What employees want is permanent and equitable access to flexible-work options in terms of schedule and location,” she said.

Now that employees have gotten a taste of job flexibility and the ability to work remotely, they are not ready to go back to sacrificing their well-being, she said. Many are refusing to commute.

She added employers that won’t listen to or accommodate workers’ demands will not only appear tone-deaf to the current employer-employee relationship but will miss out on top talent.

Power of empathy

Debbie said that during her working career, on paper, she worked five, eight-hour shifts. But in reality, she ended up working five, 10-hour shifts.

“I would have loved to have worked four, 10s [10-hour shifts]. Is this what employees are now wanting? That kind of flexibility to go to their boss and say, ‘This will help me. This will help my family. It’ll help my sleep schedule’ and have their bosses listen?”

Van Bommel said empathy is the best skill employers can bring to conversations with their workers about scheduling.

“Empathy really allows people to stop and connect and hear where employees are coming from, see things from their unique perspective, and it builds this sense that employees are being heard,” she said.

Van Bommel said what employees today are trying to do is hit “the sweet spot” balancing a living wage with flexible hours and locations.



Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, a.s well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

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Workers can now choose best flexible jobs, say experts