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Overworked and Underpaid: The State of the Modern-Day Labor Market

The feeling of being “overworked” and “underpaid” has become increasingly prevalent among modern-day workers. Employees that chose to remain with their employer despite the “Great Resignation” have shouldered additional tasks and responsibilities to keep pace with increasing business demands.

How Companies Can Overcome the Current Talent Shortage

A recent report published by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) highlighted this growing trend in the American workforce. According to the study, 52 percent of workers have taken on greater responsibilities to atone for considerable employee turnover within their organization—while more than 55 percent of workers believe they are being underpaid in their role.

So how can your business ensure that your workers avoid feeling overworked and underpaid? Here are some strategies to strengthen company morale while lessening the impacts of employee turnover.

Increase wages and pay

Although this is an obvious answer to solving talent acquisition and retention challenges, it has proven to be one of the most effective. Experts claim that increasing wages could provide a permanent solution to the worker shortage. Not only will compensation increases help attract new workers, but they could also appease current employees. Studies—like this one published in The Wall Street Journal—show that wage hikes can enhance employee motivation and productivity while reducing turnover. This, in turn, will lead to greater profitability and better bottom-line results.

Provide greater flexibility

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, workers quickly came to terms with the importance of striking a proper work-life balance. Devoting ample time to both personal and professional obligations had proven to be a challenge, which is why many have embraced the opportunity for greater flexibility. According to SHRM’s survey, 42 percent of job seekers identified a better work-life balance as a priority in their next role. If your organization is serious about supporting your workers’ physical, emotional, and mental health, it’s time to rethink the meaning of employee wellness. Enabling a hybrid or fully-remote workplace structure that’s strategically and meticulously planned can ensure that your people are taking proper care of themselves and their families.

Let employees’ voices be heard

If there’s one foolproof way to increase employee engagement within an organization, it’s by soliciting advice from workers. A recent report from Asana revealed that only 15 percent of employees feel heard by their employer. People want to speak their minds about aspects of their company that can be changed or improved—regardless of their hierarchical rank or job title. It pays to prioritize open and honest conversations with workers to establish a culture of receptivity and transparency. Not only should organizations keep lines of communication open between employees and upper-level management, but they should empower their workers to make impactful decisions that will impact the company at large.

Prioritize growth and development

Many employees are intrinsically motivated by the opportunity to climb the hierarchical ladder and achieve upward mobility within their organization. Companies that can outline an employee development plan for their high-performers are more inclined to keep these resources for the long haul. According to research conducted by ClearCompany, 94 percent of employees said they would stay at a company longer if their employer invests in their career. Strategically formulating professional advancement opportunities for top talent is a slam-dunk way to keep them motivated and invested in your business.

Promote recognition

If your organization is asking employees to shoulder a greater workload to atone for workers that may have retired or departed for new opportunities, it’s time to reward these individuals accordingly. Studies show that nearly 70 percent of employees say they’d work harder if their efforts were better recognized. Creating an organizational culture that emphasizes recognition is an excellent way to enhance your employees’ motivation. Showing a special appreciation for those that go above and beyond through promotions, bonuses, gifts, or other perks will boost company morale and create a more positive work environment for all.


If your employees are currently feeling overworked and underpaid, you aren’t alone—companies across the United States are currently encountering these same challenges. The organizations that will emerge victorious from this war on talent are those that choose to prioritize the engagement, motivation, and long-term success of their workers. By incorporating these strategies into your organization, your business will benefit from greater productivity, reduced turnover, and a more positive workplace culture for all.

Looking to construct a more inclusive workplace? Learn how you can use these eight steps to integrate DEI initiatives into your workforce.

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