What’s Behind Workers’ Decisions? We’re Asking Them

By Bethia Burke, President of the Fund for Our Economic Future, and Christine Marshall, Executive Director of the Summit & Medina Workforce Area Council of Governments

As the labor shortage has continued, lots of data have been reported—jobs reports, unemployment numbers, quit rates. National data and analysis have informed our perspectives about potential factors influencing these numbers. But, to generate potential solutions to this sustained crisis, we need to hear from workers and would-be workers.

A survey of thousands of Northeast Ohioans, followed by a series of regional focus groups, aims to understand why people quit, why they stay, what keeps them from working if they want or need to, and how their perceptions and values around work have evolved through the seismic societal shifts we’ve all experienced over the last several years.

With support from the Fund for Our Economic Future, ConxusNEO and the Summit & Medina Workforce Area Council of Governments, researchers at the Center for Marketing and Opinion Research (CMOR) launched the survey earlier this month. When complete, results will include input from a representative sample of nearly 5,000 Northeast Ohio working-age adults. The survey data will enable the production of both a comprehensive regional report that explores variability across demographic factors as well as deeper insights into specific communities.

The surveys are being conducted by phone to ensure a representative sample of participants, so you won’t see us inviting responses via a weblink like the employer survey. Preliminary results, expected in early April, will influence the kinds of questions and themes we’ll explore more deeply in a series of regionwide focus groups with working-age adults this spring.

What We’re Asking

Survey questions aim to test common hypotheses about worker choices, fill gaps in existing research and answer questions that employers have been—or should be—asking about what workers need. Some of the questions the survey is exploring include:

  1. What is the profile of displaced, unemployed and underemployed workers?

  2. What is the impact of the pandemic? Both during the pandemic and current lingering effects.

  3. What is the “stickiness” of workforce to existing jobs (that is, how likely are they to stay where they are)? What is the level of interest in and awareness of opportunities for career change, training and workforce supports?

  4. What are the barriers to employment and training programs?

  5. What are workers/job seekers looking for?

  6. Is financial position influencing decision to work? How much?

  7. How are working-age adults generally feeling about employment?

What’s Next

Stay tuned for an announcement in the next six weeks or so sharing the preliminary results. We’ll also be inviting workforce service providers, policymakers and other key stakeholders to participate in working sessions to examine preliminary results and inform the format, contents and participation goals for our focus groups to ensure we’re making abundant space for the broad range of perspectives represented in Northeast Ohio, especially those voices that are often excluded from these conversations. If you’re interested in keeping up with our progress, please be sure to subscribe to email updates on Where Are the Workers.

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