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I went to pick up dinner last night at my favorite local BBQ place and they had a sign taped to the register which literally started with, “No one wants to work anymore.” The sign went on to explain that customers should expect longer wait times on orders and slower service because they could not find anyone who was willing to work.

As an HR nerd, this sparked my interest and I began chatting with the lady behind the register. She shared that employees would come and go, often just not showing up for their scheduled shifts. I have been eating there for years and knew that they had recently purchased a new larger space and expanded their hours. She explained that they also added to their menu. So in essence, there were longer hours, more to cook, more customers to serve and more space to clean each day. The majority of the staff earns their money from tips, which were not great because the kitchen was slow and the back of the house folks hadn’t received an increase in years. Not to mention that if your boss is posting signs for the public which say “no one wants to work anymore” you know they’re probably not the easiest person to work for.

So at the end of the day what do we have? We have more work, uncompetitive pay, and an unprecedented labor market where people are receiving $1,000 sign on bonuses to work lower level service jobs. I tried to explain who I was and what I did for a living and the fact that the problem was not that “no one wants to work” the fact is they were not acting as an employer of choice by paying a current wage and treating their people well. I would love to tell you that she stayed to listen to me and that I thought our conversation had really made a difference, but she didn’t stay and listen. You see someone had quit that night and she told me she was “too busy to talk.”