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You Can’t Fix Today’s Challenges With Yesterday’s Solutions

Hey FAM, it’s Ray Allegrezza.

Today I’m talking about the ongoing worker shortage in the furniture industry and beyond. How has the world of work has been reshaped by the pandemic? Microsoft has some ideas, and I dig into those below.

Plus, don’t miss our exclusive interview with Overstock.com President David Nielson where he talks about the company’s laser focus on furniture and related goods.

Also, join our newest member of The FAM, Julia Rosien, as she outlines the digital trends taking shape in 2022 and beyond.


#WIMTY — What It Means To You

Long before anybody in Furnitureland ever heard of Covid-19, the need to recruit young people into our sector was already at pandemic levels.

And as is the case with most tough problems, it was always much easier to talk about the fact that we had a problem than it was to come up with viable solutions to the problem.

It still is, because like it or not, I’m not aware of any silver bullet capable of putting a quick fix to a longstanding problem.

But wait… the problem has gotten more interesting because now, the problem has a problem. It has been dubbed the Great Resignation, and much like Covid 19, it is on a tear and seems destined to prompt the employees we still have left to up and quit.

According to statistics from The Bureau of Labor Statistics, a whopping 47.8 million workers quit their jobs last year. That’s an average of some 4 million employees a month.

And from where I sit, I don’t think we are seeing any kind of a slowdown. Recent numbers from the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics say we broke a record— a record 4.53 million workers quit their jobs in March 2022 and that number has the dubious distinction of topping the previous series high of 4.51 million in November 2021.

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So, before anyone can stop the bleeding, one needs to know where the wound is and what caused it.

A recent study from Microsoft that was based on surveys with more than 30,000 workers in some 31 countries seems to shed some light on the issue.

The input from the employees helped Microsoft identify seven major trends that underscore how the world of work has been reshaped by the pandemic.

Here are the seven trends Microsoft identified:

  • Flexible work is here to stay
  • Leaders are out of touch with employees and need a wake-up call
  • High productivity is masking an exhausted workforce
  • Gen Z is at risk and will need to be re-energized
  • Shrinking networks are endangering innovation
  • Authenticity will spur productivity and wellbeing
  • Talent is everywhere in a hybrid world

Commenting on the report, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, said, “Over the past year, no area has undergone more rapid transformation than the way we work. Employee expectations are changing, and we will need to define productivity much more broadly — inclusive of collaboration, learning, and well-being to drive career advancement for every worker, including frontline and knowledge workers, as well as for new graduates and those who are in the workforce today. All this needs to be done with flexibility in, when, where, and how people work.”

The study also suggests that some employees are experiencing “digital exhaustion” and went on to note that with the shift to remote working, saying, “much of the spontaneous sharing of ideas that can take place within a workplace was lost.’’

And very much a challenge for us — and others hoping to attract and recruit young workers — is that Gen Z, which starts with people born in 1997, might suffer the most from digital burnout.

Even so, the Microsoft study concluded that quitting one’s job was not relegated to just one age group. The study found that more than 40% of workers are thinking about leaving their current employer this year.

And with remote work gaining ground, the study also concluded that a whopping 46% of those surveyed were thinking about relocating as a result of the flexibility remote working offers them.

This churn and burn has got to be keeping employers up late into the night, as it should.

According to the study, the word hybrid work is going to be the phrase that pays—and may have the best chance of keeping existing employees and recruiting new ones.

The study also said that an inflexible, location-centered approach to work is likely to encourage 41% of people thinking of leaving to go and find somewhere with more location flexibility.

Robert Zimmerman nailed it way back in 1964 when he wrote and recorded The Times They Are a-Changing.

Maybe the real takeaway is this: You can’t fix today’s challenges with yesterday’s solutions.


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FAM Furniture Stories

Overstock.com, the online powerhouse launched in 1999, quickly established itself as a source for just about anything under the sun. But as part of a recent and ongoing reinvention, the company now has a laser-sharp focus on furniture and related goods. The FAM’s Ray Allegrezza had a recent one-on-one with Overstock President Dave Nielsen to find out more.

Do you remember Web 1.0? Probably not. But those that do most likely thought it was a fad. But Web 1.0 gave way to Web 2.0, and now here we are with Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok, Instagram and smart computers in our pockets and there’s still more to come. Have you bought in yet? If not, read up on how to can get up-to-date on the future of digital.


In Case You Missed It

Precision Textiles has appointed its vice president of manufacturing, Moe Kovangji, to lead its growing sustainability program across all its plants and facilities. A 16-year veteran of Precision Textiles, Kovangji oversees the company’s continuous improvement processes. He has already made significant contributions to the company, including reengineering machinery, cross-training employees and implementing energy conservation measures. Before joining Precision Textiles in 2006, Kovangji served in both engineering and plant management positions for Synthetic Industry Progress Company, Hills Brothers Coffee/Nestle Food Company and Recycled Paperboard Inc. An engineering expert, he has been published in several industry trade publications, including TAPPI Journal, Pumps and Systems, Pulp and Paper, Manufacturing.net and the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program (NJMEP) website.

Wayfair, Inc recently opened its first-ever AllModern store — AllModern is Wayfair Inc.’s modern specialty retail brand. Extending the shopping experience to physical retail, Wayfair is giving customers more options in how they shop, and the company says the key to the customer experience is putting customers in charge of their own shopping journey.

The AllModern store blends together both digital and physical retail, offering a smarter, tech-first approach to shopping. Shoppers can interact with furniture and experts in person while gaining access to an endless aisle of product options and inspiration that’s thoughtfully curated for each and every customer. Shoppers can also download AllModern’s app to build their cart and learn more about the designs they see in store. And at the Design Studio, they can access free design services with expert advice on everything from finishing touches to full home redesigns.

City of Hope’s 30th Annual West Coast Golf & Tennis Tournament committee said support, registrations and excitement continue to grow in the final three-week stretch before the year’s largest furniture industry event on the west coast. The event will raise awareness and support for innovative cancer research and treatment at City of Hope, one of the largest cancer research and treatment organizations in the United States and a leading research center for diabetes and other life-threatening illnesses.

This tournament is set for Monday, June 13, in Coto de Caza, Calif., and is on track to being one of the top fundraising events in its history, even as it was challenged with a shorter-than-usual fundraising window after the 2021 event was postponed to December 2021 due to the pandemic.

To learn more about the West Coast Golf & Tennis Tournament and to register online, click here. For more information, contact Cathleen Tighe at 323-459-5130 or send an email to ctighe@coh.org.

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