Let’s call it “workforce tribalization.” 

Or maybe “market tribalization.”

Feel free to vote on it. 

Either way, it’s happening. You heard it here first. 

A friend recently told me his employer announced a vaccine mandate and he’s expecting to lose several high performers who are devoutly anti-vax. Given the frothiness of the job market right now, they can probably find another gig in a minute. 

Overall, U.S. adults support vaccine requirements in the workplace by more than 2 to 1. The gap widened by 12 percentage points in just the past three weeks. Support is even higher among knowledge workers with graduate degrees, the exact people companies like ours are fighting like hell to attract and retain. 

Incidentally, support is much lower among salespeople.

For months, job candidates have asked us if we do/will require people to be in the office (no). Any minute, they’ll start asking if we require vaccines to be in the office (yes). 

And if they don’t like our answers, several other doors are likely open. They’ll eventually land alongside people like them. Incidentally, people who are anti-vax are much more likely than people who are pro-vax to work in companies with fewer than 100 employees. FYI, OSHA.   

To be clear, vaccine philosophy (legit medical and religious reasons aside) is something of a red herring. If I’ve beaten anything into your coffee-addled brains over the past gazillion Saturday mornings, it’s the pervasive role of political tribalism in nearly every aspect of our culture today.

A mere 17% of people who support workplace vaccine mandates are Republicans. An even smaller 12% who oppose them are Democrats. With all due respect to the outliers, we seldom see bigger correlations than that.

Consider also the broader cultural undercurrents of tribalism – namely, people unfriending (virtually and in real life) others with differing views and consolidating among the like-minded. We never thought about it much in the workforce before because people could generally keep their politics to themselves if they chose.

Sure, you can often discern a job candidate’s political disposition after a cursory peek at their social media footprint. But this is next-level. Vaccine status is quickly destroying any remaining shreds of political anonymity in the workplace and giving workers serious health and safety incentives to give a damn.         

In a job market where power resides with the employer, maybe it wouldn’t matter. But in a reality where talented workers have leverage and near-infinite mobility, it could change everything. Companies and their workers may soon be as divisible by red and blue as our cable news networks and their audiences.  

And to think how united we were just 20 years ago today. 

Here’s what we’re seeing:

On a completely intertwined note, there could be a major upheaval of young workers on the horizon. If you don’t read another word of my drivel today, stop and read this study. Initially, you’ll be taken by how drastically job satisfaction among Gen Zs and Millennials has plummeted since the beginning of the year and how divided they are as a group on matters of work-life balance. You can also see how workers of all ages feel about remote work, why they love it (or not). Per my rant above, 38% of workers have either made a job change or are considering one based on their employer’s WFH policy. That’s no joke. 

COVID fatigue is showing up in a lot of different places. It might be counterintuitive, given all the Delta ugliness and the trepidation over kids returning to school, but people seem to be a bit more comfortable venturing out than they did a few weeks ago. Comfort shopping, dining out, and even plans to travel, are up slightly this week after declining steadily for two months. In the same study, we found that a troubling percentage of vaccinated Americans are on the fence (or worse) about getting a booster shot. My only explanation for all of this is that people are getting exasperated, as the pandemic feels ever more interminable. Keep your head up, folks. 

Amazon is launching an Etsy cannibalizer and, no, cannibalizer is not a word. The company best known for the millions of empty cardboard boxes cluttering up my garage launched a service called Amazon Handmade, where people can buy and sell crafts and other items. It’s aimed squarely at the Etsy crowd and, for sure, the overlap in the target market is obvious. Handmade has a big hill to climb among older-than-Z consumers; however, the reach and benefit of Prime membership is a massive competitive advantage. As always, bet against Amazon at your own peril.

Cancel culture is cool, as long as you’re one of the cool kids. Actually, no, most people think cancel culture sucks. In fact, more people don’t even know what the term means (13%) than think cancel culture is a net positive (8%). But what’s interesting is how a growing sense of isolation during COVID has made people even more negative about it. Feeling connected to large groups of people (and being on social media) makes you feel safer from being on the wrong side of cancellation. COVID has whittled away a lot of those connections. 

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The more weed you smoke, the less likely you are to eat unhealthy snacks. How is that for a shocking stat? Well, it’s true. Overall, American snackers are more than twice as likely to prefer unhealthy snacks than their more boring, healthy counterparts. However, the more well-traveled someone is, the more likely they are to eat healthy snacks. Bilingual people actually eat healthier snacks more than unhealthy snacks. Contrary to common stereotypes, people who partake in cannabis are less likely to snack at all. Why? Because the correlation between smoking weed and being a world-traveling polyglot is stronger than the correlation between being a weed-smoker and a Dorito-crushing couch dweller. Who knew?   

A few more studies we did this week:

Our most popular questions this week:

Answer Key: Like the insect; If by “keep” you mean “still wear them,” then yes; Europe without a doubt; 100%; Yes. 

Hoping you’re well.

JD