Oxbow Bend, Snake River

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

CoolWorks 2021 Employment Survey – Key Takeaways

Matt Moore

The events of the last few years have brought about massive changes to world of Jobs in Great Places. Some of these changes will be temporary as we hopefully continue to work our way back to some version of “normal.” But as Thomas Wolfe stated in his posthumous 1940 novel You Can’t Go Home Again: “You can’t go…back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting, but which are changing all the time.” Many of the changes brought about by the pandemic will be permanent. Some are just emerging now, some make take years to appear and take shape. We believe that the organizations that will fare the best will listen to the voices of today’s workforce to inform and guide the business models of the future.

In our 2021 Employment Survey, we hoped to gain some insights into what matters to job seekers and employees in the post-Covid era, what motivators are shaping their employment decisions, and how those motivators will shape their future career decisions. We were overwhelmed by the responses we received, and below we’ve included some key takeaways from those results.

We asked respondents to tell some of the things that their employers did to make them feel valued in the challenging climate of 2020 and 2021. Here’s a few particularly helpful responses we received:

“We just started at a new location and they have done a wonderful job at making us feel valued. They communicate how grateful they are that we’re here, provide shift meals, encourage us to explore, provide consecutive same days off, and free or discounted use of company perks.”

“My employer thanks me and all my teammates every single day.”

“Pay and bonus have been increased and housing with food options have been included. Work-life balance.”

“I am starting a new seasonal job this week. They are working with me to offer best wage, time off, it’s a real connection and I am happy to help them succeed!”

“Private dorm room- this showed me that my employer valued my safety over profit.”

When asked if the events of 2020/21 had changed their outlook on working in the hospitality and tourism industries, 63.5% responded in the affirmative.

The following are a sampling of the responses given when participants were asked to elaborate.

“It increased my awareness about my personal safety. It also made me question whether my employer had my back. One part of my job required me to control the number of people entering the store. When I was abused by a customer who insisted on jumping the line, management did not back me up.”

“I want to be protected from the virus. Too many employers are loosening mask restrictions and endangering employees. The pay is too low and no jobs offer insurance. It isn’t worth the risk of catastrophic and bankrupting illness to make minimum wage.”

“We’re interested in an employer (and government leaders in that area) being concerned about protecting our health. Our 2019 employer and state did not and we lost a friend there. We found a better — though far from perfect — environment.”

“I will now and forever consider if an employer is – truly – taking my safety into account and not just giving safety lip service. A real wage and proper benefits, clean and decent housing, and most importantly, a work environment that places respect for each worker first are part of the safety paradigm I will look for. “Getting paid in sunsets,” in this pandemic era is not good enough anymore.

“I’ve worked in the hospitality field for many many years and my concern has been more of the fact that the public has become even more rude and disrespectful since the pandemic”

Thoughts and Takeaways

A few common themes emerged from the results of this survey. Many participants expressed concerns with the ability of jobs in hospitality to support their cost of housing and living expenses. Many were concerned with their employers interest and investment in prioritizing their health and safety, both from exposure to disease and from interactions with hostile guests. Many were appreciative of their employers efforts to hear them, react to their concerns, and show appreciation for being a part of their team.

What does this mean for employers going forward? The hospitality industry has arrived at an inflection point. A “customer is always right” mentality may imperil the trust of your staff, as employees will want to feel that their employers will have their back and care about their safety. Employers may need to reevaluate their products, services, and pricing to be able to provide jobs that offer financial stability for their employees, or risk the prospect of not being able to attract talent.

The events of the last few years have presented numerous challenges that will take years to understand and address for organizations in all industries. Those challenges will give birth to opportunities for those organizations that actively strive to observe and adapt to the changing landscape around them, and who aim to build teams that feel valued, invested in, and included in your organization’s mission.