What is the American dream and what does it mean for employees?

October 6, 2021

 

What is the American Dream anymore? 

The American Dream probably means something very different depending on whom you talk to. To some, “making it” means working in an office. Homeownership used to be the pinnacle, yet today nearly half of American workers don’t make enough to afford a one-bedroom rental. Few middle-class workers (like teachers and first responders) can afford to buy homes in most of the country. We recently surveyed thousands of workers and employers and found that 39% of workers have to rely on gig work to make ends meet. Whether you’re Black, white, urban, rural, a Millennial or a Boomer – we all have our own version of the American Dream, while some reject the idea entirely. 

Many Americans strive for this “dream” they think will make them happy only to realize that they’re burnt out and passionless. The strains of the pandemic have made millions of workers re-examine their purpose and how they spend their time. Whether it’s a lack of time or money, workers are looking around thinking, Is this really the Dream? And millions of workers quitting in recent months indicates that people aren’t content and maybe haven’t realized their version of the Dream, whether that’s buying a home, sending their kids to college or simply pursuing other passions unrelated to their work selves. 

Helping your employees thrive 

The individual success of your employees contributes to the collective success of your company. We’re here for employers like you who are helping people achieve their dreams, and we have a 140-million candidate audience that we celebrate and empower. Here’s how you can support candidates and employees: 

Skills-based hiring 

In today’s tight labor market, employers are doing whatever they can to retain top talent. Our inclusive brand and platform bring you the most unexpectedly qualified candidates so your business can find just the right fit. What do we mean by “unexpectedly qualified”? Take our skills matching technology, which reframes and resizes the skills gap by matching skills with job descriptions, making job searches more fluid and equitable, and making hiring more successful and diverse. Much of skills-based hiring amounts to perspective, too, and you should consider less traditional career paths to quickly hire diverse employees. 

Career pathing 

After you’ve hired based on skills, your employees may need some extra help envisioning their future, especially if they’re in a new industry. Career pathing can be one of your strongest engagement and retention tools. Have your employees share their dreams – and dream job – and make a plan for what that looks like at your company and the steps they can take to progress toward those goals. Creating a map and giving your full support boosts employee morale, productivity and trust. 

Work/life balance 

When you think about ways to keep star employees around and help them achieve their dreams, tactics like raising pay, giving more vacation time or offering more benefits, like a flexible schedule, may come to mind. Your employees may be progressing in their careers and earning great wages, but if work has invaded their personal time, they won’t necessarily feel the benefits of their success. Sometimes all it takes is checking in and gauging workload to prevent burnout, especially with working parents. And if you can’t offer remote work, think through ways to give employees back the time it takes them to commute every day. A housekeeping service could be a great perk.  They'll get to spend weekends with their families and not trading one form of work for another. 

Set tech boundaries

While many have welcomed remote work, a recent CareerBuilder survey found that 77% of workers are struggling to disconnect from work after hours. Encourage your teams to sign off at a certain time – it starts with you doing so too – and discourage working on weekends. Some employees may even have side passion projects that define their dreams, and they’ve put those off as they run the rat race. Help them explore those other parts of themselves. 

Sometimes the American Dream applies not just to workers but to small business owners, so know this: we’re here for you, too. And with a disproportionate number of Black-owned businesses shuttering during the pandemic, CareerBuilder is here to get you back on your feet. 

Success can mean something different to everyone, and that's actually what the Dream is: to define personal success. Now is the time to make that happen.

 

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