“Attracting workers” has become the new mantra being repeated, like an invocation, by those alarmed by the impact on the local labor market of the so-called “great resignation” trend. This concerns the tourism and catering sectors (where more than 50,000 positions have yet to be filled even though the tourism season has already started) and companies that are looking for specialized personnel but are unable to find them.
The term “great resignation” was coined last year in the United States to describe the unprecedented increase in the number of workers who lost their jobs and don’t want them back or who quit during the pandemic. Was it the result of re-evaluating their way of life, redrafting their priorities between work and personal needs and desires, or a more existential process? There have been many explanations and analyses of the phenomenon, but what they boil down to is that Millennials and Gen Zs have decided to seek a new balance between their work and personal life.
The Greek version of the great resignation bears similarities to the international trend but is also different in some respects. Again, there are many different opinions on what is behind this new reality. It is not just that many workers prefer to collect unemployment benefit, which now stands at over 400 euros a month, and augment that with uninsured, under-the-table shift work; it is also very much the fact that the demands on workers in both the tourism and catering industries can be absolutely grueling, especially at the peak of the tourism season.
Those who were let go during the pandemic are having trouble returning to what many describe as the “galleys” and basically means working 16 hours a day, seven days a week, for a small amount of money. This is obviously a broad generalization and there are many different categories. Yet even good employers who are offering decent wages and terms are having trouble finding staff for their businesses and companies.
It is a serious issue and one that should not be exploited for cheap political gains. It should not be viewed through the prism of the ideological fixations and exploitative explanations that some political parties so often tend to rely on. It is an issue that demands a new perspective.
That said, beyond the measures that are already being discussed to tackle the phenomenon – such as businesses becoming more socially minded and offering better incentives – there also needs to be greater respect across the board for that thing called human capital, for the people who make up a country’s workforce, from the humblest to the loftiest position. Because dignity is the only way to ensure reliability.