2024 will be 'toughest' labor market 'in our lifetime': Report RedBalloon CEO Andrew Crapushettes said 'a lot of different factors' are to blame for difficult market in a Fox News Digital exclusive

 An "alarming" new study on the future of the labor market puts a spotlight on the lack of employees and a rise in workplace litigation this year. 

"The report talks about how 2024, we believe, is going to be one of the most challenging years in the labor market in our lifetime," RedBalloon CEO Andrew Crapuchettes said in a Fox News Digital exclusive. 

"There's a lot of different factors that are driving that. We see a population decline. We see baby boomers retiring. We see a Gen Z workforce that is coming in and not doing productive things in the workplace… The thing that I think is the most alarming fact, though, in the entire report, and one of our big findings was the amount of litigation that's happening in the American workplace today."

RedBalloon's report "2024: The Toughest Labor Market," released Monday, breaks down the factors contributing to the challenging road ahead but also provides employees with a possible solution. 

"To summarize the situation employers face: there are fewer people overall, fewer working-aged people willing to work, more retirements, a higher number of jobseekers with mental health challenges, and an explosion in labor-related lawsuits against employers," the report says.

One of the predominant factors is the evolving employable demographic. The study notes a decline in population growth is paired with an increasing number of boomers retiring, leaving the labor force to rely on more millennials and Gen Z. 

The study observed, however, that there are seven million working-aged men who should be "leading in the labor market" but are unemployed or not actively looking for employment, leaving a "huge hole."

"[Working-age men] should be leading in the labor market," Crapuchettes said. "They should be helping the Gen Zers… Working-age men, 25 to 65, those are people who should be engaged in the labor market and leading in their economies, in their businesses, and in their communities. And unfortunately, we're seeing that a lot of them are not engaged in the labor market."

Gen Z workers present new issues for employers.  

"Part of that is they've grown up on social media. Forbes believes that the average Gen Z spends four hours a day on social media, and that just gives you a distorted view of reality. And then many of them have gone off to university and also gotten a distorted view of reality because those universities are not focused on meritocracy in the way that you really have… to be successful in the workplace," Crapuchettes argued.

The study explained the Gen Z labor force is increasingly defined by job hopping, mental health challenges, and voluntary sidelining.

A March 2024 survey by RedBalloon found that of business owners in the study, 68% said Gen Zers are the "least reliable" employees and 64% said Gen Zers are likely to cause division and toxicity in the workplace.

The most "alarming" factor in RedBalloon's comprehensive study is the rise in work-related litigation. 

"You see businesses that are spending enormous amounts of money on dealing with either class action lawsuits from employees, whether it's sexual identity, whether it's race-based. These things are just sucking the joy and the productivity out of the workplace. When you have employers have to spend that much time and energy either fighting a lawsuit or walking on eggshells around the workplace so that they don't get a lawsuit." 

Crapuchettes emphasized the "most shocking statistic" uncovered in the report, that 75% of employers said they have dealt with a lawsuit over the past five years.

"You think about the cost, not only the mental cost but the real dollars and cents costs of that type of impact on the workplace. It is not a good thing for America," Crapuchettes said.

While the report paints a grim future for 2024, it also offers a solution for employers: "Change strategy and tactics."

Although a simple call to action, the solution involves employers changing hiring tactics to focus more on merit, values, and workplace culture rather than skills alone.

Warehouse worker with help wanted sign

"If you're an employer, you need to change the way you do hiring. The labor market is no longer a vending machine where you can just put in a quarter and get out a great employee. You need to be much more thoughtful and intentional in the hiring process," Crapuchettes explained. 

The report also questions the workplace impact of diversity, equity, and inclusion policies. A RedBalloon report on DEI found that "the rise of DEI has also coincided with increased disaffection among American workers."

Crapuchettes encouraged employees not to "shortcut the hiring process."

"If you focus on hiring the person that will do the job regardless of their background or their age, or anything about them. But can they do the job? And then you focus on values alignment. We want people who are into hard work and capitalism inside our workplace. If you do those things and you put the time and effort into the hiring process to confirm that those things are true, then you're going to have great employees and you're going to beat this really hard labor market," Crapuchettes concluded.

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