The boss is in charge again

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RTO orders and massive layoffs are now the name of the game in some sectors.Getty Images

  • After a brief transition of power to workers, it feels like the bosses are back in charge.
  • The rise of AI, office-to-office orders and layoffs – anxiety is high among employees.
  • CEOs are less concerned about workers leaving, one expert told Insider.

CEOs are back on top.

Amidst the rise of job-threatening AI, stricter office-to-office orders, and mass layoffs, it seems Bosses are taking away what little power is left from employees.

The mood has shifted from enthusiasm for employee-first initiatives like the four-day week, remote work and the “Great Resignation.” Mass layoffs and strict office orders.

Peter Cappelli, a professor of management at the Wharton Business School, told Insider that companies didn’t quit because they were worried about keeping employees happy.

“It’s one of the few times CEOs listen to HR people,” he said. “One of the reasons they’re pushing back more and more now is because they believe employees can’t leave and go elsewhere easily.”

The Great Resignation was not so great

The Great Resignation, also known as the Big Quit, may have empowered workers, but how much it actually benefited them is debatable.

In early 2021, the economic trend started in the wake of the pandemic and Lakhs of workers saw their jobs quit. At the time, many hailed the trend as a reshaping of the workforce, but now few are so sure.

A quarter of the 628 job switchers Joblist surveyed in June said They regret leaving their last role, and 42% said their new jobs “didn’t live up to their expectations.”

“This common knowledge that employees are made like bandits during this time is not true,” Cappelli said.

several economists previously told Insider Only a few workers got real bargaining power And rising inflation canceled out large wage increases.

“I think we’re in a period of tight labor markets and a growing recognition of workers’ desire for how they work,” said Erin Kelly, a professor at MIT Sloan. However, she cautioned that the narrative is being driven by a few large companies and “it’s too early to tell how much that has changed.”

Back to the office, or else

In-person meetings are back. If you don’t like it: tough.

Office-to-office orders are becoming more difficult Despite the staff pushing back.

These charges are being largely borne by big tech and banks, with varying degrees of intensity and pushback.

Software Development Engineer at Amazon, where employees Being asked to relocate to the hub office, change teams or “voluntarily resign”. One perspective on the RTO orders is that it is “a clear attempt to reduce developer wages and manpower,” told Insider.

During the pandemic’s tech boom, tech companies “had all the money in the world and could hire anyone, and that meant developers suddenly had some real power in the job market for the first time in decades. The labor market for a brief window,” an Amazon employee said. “The RTO has kind of a conspiratorial approach in response to that.”

Some see RTO is mandated as a silent firing tool.

“I think Amazon has pushed so hard the last two rounds of layoffs that this is a way to trim roles without making layoffs. It’s like, ‘OK, we’re going to let people go,'” said an Amazon Web Services employee.

Flexible work options can help boost company retention rates and boost hiring, but layoffs coupled with an uncertain economic climate seem to have encouraged employers to do away with them.

“It’s going to be difficult to retain and recruit,” Stanford economist Nick Bloom told Insider, referring to the RTO mandates. “I assume they’re just saying they’re not actively trying to increase headcount.

“It doesn’t mean they’re aggressively laying people off, but clearly, it’s a signal that they’re not pushing to expand or they wouldn’t do it.”

But CEOs are bringing workers back to the office Their own bottom line may be at risk.

“No matter what job market cycle we’re in, the best employees in every organization always have outside options,” said Harvard Business School professor Raj Chaudhary. “It doesn’t matter whether we’re in a recession or a boom — the risk is that you’re not going to lose every employee, but you’re going to lose some of your best employees.”

“I think that’s the danger these leaders have if they want to force this return-to-everyday model down everybody’s throats,” he added.

AI concerns

AI is poised to replace many jobs, and workers are increasingly fearful.
Getty Images/3D Illustration

Since OpenAI’s ChatGPT launched late last year, generative AI has been booming Increasing workers’ concerns about massive job losses.

Some bosses have publicly praised technology’s ability to multitask. CEO of Octopus Energy, a UK-based home energy supplier, said in May AI was already working 250 people in the company.

Many employees have come forward with skepticism that they have been exposed to the new technology.

Cappelli said there is little evidence that AI has actually cut jobs, and that some fears were “grossly overblown.”

Technology is not perfect – This has already caused many PR headaches — but there are some cost-savings and efficiency opportunities that make some degree of risk worthwhile for many employers.

“What’s happened now is employers don’t know what the use of generative AI will be,” Cappelli said. “So, it looks like a work stoppage.”

“If you’re an individual worker looking for a job right now, it looks like a recession for you,” he said.

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