It took her a year to recruit a new saleswoman. So of her employee, Soukaïna, hired in September 2022, Stéphanie Verneau, baker in Malakoff (Hauts-de-Seine), says that she is “a rare pearl”. Stéphanie Verneau is one of those business leaders who have been facing serious recruitment difficulties for several months. Hospitality, industry, transport, banking, health, education, social assistance, communication: many sectors are concerned. Job opportunities are plentiful. But the candidates, rare. In the field of human resources, we speak of professions “in tension”. “We have around 200,000 vacancies in the hotel and catering industry, calculates for example Thierry Marx, starred chef and president, since October 2022, of the Union of Trades and Industries of the Hotel Industry (UMIH). We lack team leaders, cooks, pastry chefs, we lack staff for table service, receptionists, room staff…” Aurélien, owner of a brasserie in Grenoble (Isère), has just left his difficulties in recruiting: “I had two waiter positions to fill. One remained vacant for two months. Salvation came from a former employee, who bolstered the ranks in mid-January. In Paris, Antoine, also a restaurant owner, is still looking.
Same galley on the industry side: “We need 120,000 to 130,000 employees per year. As I speak to you, about 30,000 positions remain unfilled, regrets Hubert Mongon, general delegate of the Union of Industries and Metallurgy Trades (UIMM). Boilermaker, welder and maintenance positions (production line management).
How can these difficulties be explained? For Thierry Marx, we cannot “point the finger only to the question of wages, since they have increased by 16% in the catering industry in recent times”. Same observation with Hubert Mongon, who specifies that salaries are “15% higher than average salaries”. The economist Coralie Perez, co-author with Thomas Coutrot of Giving meaning to work (1), confirms and notes two main reasons for these complicated recruitments. “Recruitment problems can initially be attributed to a shortage of qualified personnel. This is the case, mainly, in companies that mainly use executives. However, it is however the working conditions that play an “increasingly important” role in what has become an obstacle course for recruiters, continues the economist. A phenomenon accentuated by the Covid, but which is not new. According to Dares, in 2019, already, among the many shortage occupations for which employers reported difficulties in filling vacant positions, one in two experienced “a problem of attractiveness linked to working conditions”. Among these conditions: physical constraints (heavy loads, noise, proximity to a dangerous chemical agent, etc.) or temporal constraints, such as staggered hours.
Stéphanie Verneau, the baker from Malakoff, is constantly confronted with this scenario: “The candidates are more and more reluctant to start at 7 a.m. – it’s too early – or to finish at 8 p.m. – it’s too late. – she squeaks. Recently, a candidate didn’t want to “fuck up”, I quote, his Sunday while working, whereas for a baker it’s the biggest day. »
There are the schedules, the physical hardship. But it is also “a whole relationship to work that has changed”, understands Coralie Perez. With, at the heart, the question of meaning, more than a story of laziness. During the pandemic, nearly 11 million people were put on short-time work, a period during which many questioned the meaning of their work. “It’s not that employees flee work, it’s that they flee work that seems senseless to them,” she points out. Either because they don’t have the means to do it well (see p. 30-31), or because they don’t see the concrete consequences. “I worked as an engineer in the photovoltaic sector, says Grégoire, who resigned last year, after seven years in the shop, to become a bicycle repairer in Asnières-sur-Seine. For me, who has a strong ecological commitment, this job should have made sense, but I sent emails that no one answered, I filled in Excel spreadsheets. What was my impact? » Today, « I see the direct result of my work », he smiles. And what does it matter if he cut his salary by a third.
Result of this “crisis of meaning”, in addition to the problems of attractiveness: companies which, once they have succeeded in signing a contract, struggle to retain their employees. In 2019, still according to Dares, one in four private companies reported difficulties in retaining their staff. A trend that the health crisis seems to have accentuated: 500,000 resignations per quarter were recorded on average in 2022. An unprecedented score. “However, eight out of ten resigners found a job elsewhere, within six months”, nuance Coralie Perez. A “great rotation” more than a “great resignation”, in short.
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