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Workers or employers, who is winning the battle?
Wednesday, May 1, 2024 - 09:00
crédito reuters fuerza laboral Latinoamérica

The replacement of the workforce has already arrived, impacting productivity, presence and, especially, mobility. What is required now is a rearrangement to find a balance point of convenience for all, because "until now, the 'cock' is being won by the workers," says a labor market specialist.

Since the pandemic, especially nurses and technicians have decided that they do not want to work in hospitals or health centers and that they prefer to care for people in their homes. Many times they also do not want to work shifts of eight or more hours. They seek only four or six hours per day, which forces employment agencies and health centers to develop a care route for convalescent or elderly people who require their services.

Nor are truck drivers willing to sleep just two hours for every 20 hours of travel, nor travel from Warsaw to Lisbon moving a load. It is estimated that there is a shortage of almost a million drivers and the new routes have been divided by country, changing the load or the driver and raising the costs of moving goods.

These are two specific cases in which the employer does not set the rules, but rather adapts to the demands made by the workers.

“In this 'cock' the worker is earning more and more. And if before this happened exclusively in highly qualified professions, now it is happening in increasingly less specialized occupations,” Ruy Rocheta Chief Regional Officer Southwestern Europe & Latam of Gi Group Holding explains to AméricaEconomía .

Another example is service in restaurants.

“Waiters in Europe are starting to work four to five hours, because it is a quite physically demanding profession. Not only their remuneration is being improved, but also their general working conditions, versus the reality of 30 years ago of a waiter in a cafe in a city like Madrid, who came in at seven in the morning, left at eleven in the morning. at night and they gave him three hours off in between to justify that he didn't have a full day. Nowadays that is unacceptable and there is no one who wants to work in those types of conditions,” details the executive of the Portuguese firm.

A reality that is beginning to happen in Latin America, with millennials and centennials already integrated into the genxers and baby boomers , with demands and expectations from the new generations that already exceed the sphere of just the professional executive.

“Companies must work harder than ever to attract, develop and retain Generation Z talent, and they need to have a clear and genuine purpose,” says Manpower in The New Human Age report.

By 2030, Generation Z is expected to make up about 30% of the global workforce, according to the report Generation Z in the Workplace: How Should Businesses Adapt? from Johns Hopkins University.

Taking into account that, according to Manpower, “they are a group very committed to issues of diversity, equality, inclusion and belonging” and that 68% are not satisfied “with the progress made by their organizations in diversity and inclusion” and “the 56% would not accept a new job without diverse leadership”, there are many changes to initiate on our continent to meet the expectations of centennials .

McKinsey's Big Attrition, Big Pull 2.0 Global Survey suggests focusing on the “employee value proposition (EVP),” that is, the reasons for coming to work every day. Young people, in addition to a decent salary, want flexible employment, with purpose and opportunities for professional growth, the consultancy maintains.

But in the region the sector where it is best appreciated is in the professional area.

“The market has been adapting to a paradigm shift, where technology plays a predominant role. In this framework, there is a greater demand for professionals with training, skills and experience associated with technology, in line with the strong automation and digitalization that companies are experiencing. And there are many areas where this type of professionals is scarce, which results in a tug of war for the attraction and retention of this type of professionals,” Caio Arnaes, Associate Director of Robert Half Chile, tells AmericaEconomy .

Your recruiting firm has seen how the already constant problem of talent retention is among the main concerns of companies.

“Due to the shortage of talent, efforts are greater in this regard, since the departure of a key professional can be very negative for the company's objectives, without forgetting the effects on the work team,” adds Arnaes.

And in terms of turnover, a survey conducted by Robert Half revealed that companies estimate that it is equal to or greater than last year, with a better opportunity in another company being, by far, the main factor for a worker to leave the organization permanently. voluntary.

“Given this, companies have been making important efforts in terms of salaries, but also in better working conditions and benefits, with the aim of maintaining or increasing their attractiveness to attract or retain the best professionals,” says Arnaes.

However, it is worth remembering that the IDB detected that labor informality still represents 58% of employment in the region.


With the approach of International Workers' Day, different platforms made known their visions about work and workers.

Data from Randstad's Workmonitor 2024 report, for example, reveals that 59% of workers in Chile would not accept a job if they thought it could negatively affect their work-life balance. For 62% of Chileans, personal life is more important than work life; 51% would leave their job if it prevented them from enjoying their life.

According to this report, 50% of workers in Chile belonging to Generation X, between 43 and 58 years old, would consider quitting their job if it does not allow them to enjoy their personal life. Similarly, this phenomenon is observed in people over 60 years of age, a trend that until recently was unusual in that country.

Meanwhile, 77% of the participants in the “Leaders or Bosses” study, from the Laborum portal in Chile, considered quitting their job due to having a bad relationship with their boss. In addition, 53% of people acknowledged having a fair or poor perception of their bosses and 65% responded that they do not consider their superior to be a leader.

These results, 65% of people who do not recognize their superior as a leader, are the highest in the region, followed by those of Argentina, where 58% do not consider their boss to be a leader, and Panama, where this alternative reaches the highest level. 53%.

The most positive outlook is recorded in Peru and Ecuador, where only 45% and 39%, respectively, do not believe that their superior is a leader.

A kind of paradox, in economies where unemployment flirts with or exceeds double digits, such as Colombia, where the official figure is 11.3%. Chile, meanwhile, had an unemployment rate of 8.4% during the November 2023 - January 2024 quarter, which meant an increase of 0.4 percentage point in 12 months.

For Robert Half, unemployment is due to a series of structural factors also closely linked to the economic moment, as well as the requirements of the market and, therefore, of companies. “So if a sector weakens due to some factor, it is possible to observe a drop in the level of employment in that sector and an increase in another that may present greater dynamism,” adds Caio Arnaes.

Inflation is another challenge for organizations: the recomposition of salaries in the face of the rising cost of living continues to impact the day-to-day life of companies, generating a flight of talent and losing competitiveness, they say in Ranstad.

On the other hand, the challenge in terms of hiring personnel lies in preserving agility and flexibility that allows them to face a dynamic work environment, where management goes beyond simple cost and production control.

What GI Group has seen in Chile in its six months in the market is that there is still a way for medium-sized companies to recognize the importance of human resources and associated services.

“The investment that companies make in the training of their employees is still below what would be ideal. Above all, taking into account the difficulty of finding qualified people, the responsibility of training has to be even greater. And when you are competing for talent with large companies, that can be a way to make a difference,” says Ruy Rocheta.

Other factors add to the equation. For example, at the end of April, Chile began the gradual application of the reduction in the working day from 45 to 40 hours per week, starting this year with one hour less. The arrival of the first phase has been celebrated by the government of Gabriel Boric, the main promoter of a project similar to that seen in other countries in the region, such as Colombia and Mexico.

In essence, it seeks to achieve the goal proposed by the International Labor Organization (ILO). This institution assures that excess work generates losses of up to 3% in the GDP of the affected countries.

READ ALSO : Zero hour: Chile begins the gradual application of the 40-hour work week

It is an additional challenge in a country that has seen its productivity decline for a decade or more.

“Productivity has fallen because obviously there are more protections [for workers], reductions in hours, and significantly more rights. And with that, the output I have is that what I produce is being reduced,” Rocheta evaluates.

Will a balance be found?

“Talent values work-life balance as much as salary. There is a strong and continued desire for flexibility, both in terms of where and when people work. This drive for greater balance can also affect workers' hunger for progress, and some say that their level of ambition is directly affected by what is happening in their personal lives,” explains Bárbara Cisterna, Director of Outsourcing at Randstad Chile.

It is also seen in the return to presence. “It is no coincidence that many large companies have forced, even through the employment contract, a return to total presence. And the reason is that they have seen a significant loss of productivity (…) and the market must recover it by identifying more balanced models of presence and teleworking,” adds Rocheta.

Adding events and phenomena, Gi Group considers that the labor outlook will be compensated when stability is found in the equation.

“Returning to the case of drivers, before sending a load cost 10 because there was only one driver. Today I pay two and a half, so the cost went up and productivity went down. I'll strike a balance when I find a way to carry more things for the same value. And there technology can help us a lot, allowing us to recover a part of that productivity,” explains Rocheta.

From Robert Half's perspective, this is not a dispute or conflict that is just happening today.

“The labor market is constantly dynamic. And this applies to the most diverse sectors and companies, where the objectives can be very different. Within this logic, what can be observed are the needs of both companies and workers, which are adjusted according to the area, the position, the objectives and all the factors that are located around that reality," highlights Caio Arnaes. .

A new look at the eternal conflict of living to work or working to live.

“Living to work is no longer an option in many countries around the world and in many generations. Not just the millennials , not just the younger generations, but everyone else has gone along the lines of I work for a living. Work is part of my life, but it is not my life. It is something important, but not exclusive,” concludes Rocheta.


Gwendolyn Ledger