Changing American workforce: What do employees want from their employer?


(WTEN) — There’s no doubt the COVID pandemic has opened the door to new ideas about what it means to have job flexibility, the importance of healthcare, paid time off, and earning a livable wage. It’s caused Americans to revaluate job benefits and some employers scrambling to keep up with changing demands.

American workers are making their voices heard. Flexibility, including the ability to work from home, health insurance, earning a good wage, paid time off, and work-life balance are benefits that matter to them most, according to research from

This could explain why some industries are having a difficult time hiring people post-COVID.

With the easing of COVID restrictions on the capacity for restaurants, restaurant owners have reported workers are in short supply across the U.S., some blaming expanded unemployment benefits. But workers who took part in’s survey said flexibility was at the top of their priority list.

If workers are looking for flexibility, they won’t find it in the restaurant business, where working from home isn’t an option. They may also not find health insurance, the number two priority for employees who took part in the survey.

Larger fast-food chains like McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Chipotle have recently tried to lure employees through bonuses and expanded benefits like sign-on bonuses, paying people to come to interviews, raising wages, providing vacation time, and short-term disability said Business Insider.

Because these types of benefits may be expensive for independently run restaurants, they may not be able to offer attractive benefits packages to potential employees.

Health insurance is expensive for both employers and employees. Premiums continue to increase every year as they have for more than a decade, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Single person insurance premiums U.S.

Employee contribution$1,234$1,489
Employer contribution$4,598$5,483
Annual premium$5,832$6,972
Source: Kaiser Familiy Foundation

Single person insurance premiums N.Y.

Employee contribution$1,223$1,683
Employer contribution$5,084$6,207
Annual premium$6,307$7,890
Source: Kaiser Familiy Foundation

As if that wasn’t enough pressure for businesses, there’s been a growing call for years to raise the federal minimum wage. Although justified, raising the minimum wage to the current push of $15 an hour may not be enough for workers to make a decent living.

New York has already passed legislation that raises the minimum wage in the state to $15 over time which is more than half of the federal minimum wage of $7.25. Neither minimum meets what’s considered the living wage in the U.S. of $16.54, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

The living wage fluctuates by state with some substantially higher than the average. For example, in New York, the living wage is $18.62 for an individual without any dependents. That number shoots up to $36, $45.44, and $59.11 for an individual with one, two, or three dependents respectively, based on MIT’s Living Wage Calculator. Business Insider said the salary need to live comfortably in New York is $95,724.

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