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Indiana Chamber worker survey: ‘Great Resignation’ real, workers unaware of skills needed for thriving career

While a newly-released survey shows Hoosier workers are relatively confident in the security of their current jobs, nearly a quarter (24%) of those who felt secure still expect to search for new job opportunities in the next year. This underlines the reality of the “Great Resignation” period sweeping varied industries across the nation.

The takeaway is among the key findings from the first worker survey commissioned by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, its Institute for Workforce Excellence and Indiana Chamber Foundation. For the last 14 years, the Indiana Chamber has done an annual employer workforce survey – the most recent issued in late September. The emphasis of the worker survey was on employment, the economy and the future. 

“Job security does not always equal contentment for individuals. Having purpose at work, flexibility and a competitive salary are all big factors, with the first two becoming increasingly important for workers since the pandemic began,” offers Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar.

“People quitting a job – with or without another one lined up – is on the rise and according to the respondents who were unemployed, it’s now the most common reason why they are out of work.”

A total of 43% of the unemployed respondents said they had quit as opposed to 38% who were terminated or laid off. Only 15% of those laid off were due to a business closure. Among the unemployed, 70% were currently looking for work and 26% were not. Over half of the unemployed have been without a stable job with a living wage for more than six months.

The survey also illustrated the existing disconnect over the skills and education level needed to have a thriving career in the state. Nearly one third (32%) of Hoosier workers believed that a high school diploma is all they need. Minority workers were more likely to consider a college degree necessary.

“It’s alarming that so many still believe a high school diploma will provide them the type of prosperity to sustain them throughout life,” Brinegar asserts. “Unfortunately, their perspective just doesn’t match up to the realities of the modern workforce.”

In March 2021, for example, 916,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy. Of those, less than 1% or just 7,000 jobs were for people with only a high school diploma.

But the good news is that most in the survey did recognize the importance of more education or training – with 58% of Hoosier workers considering pursuing career development in the past year or two. The vast majority of those (74%) contemplating enhancing their skills already hold a post-high school diploma credential or industry certification. 

Separately, over three-quarters (78%) of workers acknowledge their lack of education is a barrier to job opportunities and would be willing to get more training if their employer encouraged them to do so.

“For their best interests and that of their workers, more employers should begin to look at growing the workforce they need. Whether that’s via formal tuition reimbursement or training programs, or simply through encouragement or access to resources,” Brinegar says. “This will be one of the most effective ways to fill the existing talent shortage.”

Compensation was another survey focus. Somewhat surprisingly, more employed Hoosiers indicated that their incomes actually increased since the onset of COVID-19 than those who reported a decrease: 29% vs. 21%. The remainder said their incomes were not affected much at all. What’s more, nearly half (48%) of Hoosier workers believe their overall compensation is fair and satisfactory for the work they do.

Of those not satisfied with what they are making, 56% said they intend to search for new job opportunities in the next year. And back to the Great Resignation trends, 30% of workers satisfied with their compensation still plan to look for new job opportunities.

Similar to employers in that survey, Hoosier workers were generally optimistic about their own financial situations over the next few years. A total of 54% of workers believed their household finances would improve during that time; only 18% feared it would worsen.

The 2021 Indiana Chamber employee survey was conducted during the third quarter and completed by 602 Hoosiers statewide who were employed, under-employed or unemployed. Their ages ranged from 18 to 60 and were not business owners or considered upper-level management. Full results are available at www.indianachamber.com/survey.

The Indiana Chamber’s Institute for Workforce Excellence is dedicated to helping businesses attract, develop and retain skilled employees by bringing together tools and resources to assist in building that talent pipeline. The Institute’s scope is being expanded to fill existing gaps in the workforce system for both employers and employees. A key piece is the Indiana Talent Resource Navigator, which will be launched in early 2022.

The Indiana Chamber Foundation commissions practical policy research, initiates actions and seeks solutions that positively impact Indiana’s economic future and enhance the quality of life for all Hoosiers. Most notably, it includes the Indiana Vision 2025 long-range economic development plan for the state, as well as its supporting biannual report cards on how the state is progressing. Earlier this year, the Foundation launched Accelerating Indiana: Vision 2025+.

The Indiana Chamber partners with 25,000 members and investors – representing over four million Hoosiers – to achieve the mission of “cultivating a world-class environment which provides economic opportunity and prosperity.