Top 5 Most Thankless but Most Valuable Jobs

collage of various service workers

The pandemic rocked our worlds in many different ways. One of the most consequential of those ways was what jobs were deemed essential, thus forcing millions to keep working as if the world wasn’t experiencing an unprecedented global event. Doctors, nurses, CNAs, paramedics, and other healthcare workers rightfully earned heaps of praise for their heroic work, but what about those who are overlooked, also struggled, and deserved the same amount of praise for doing their essential work as well? These 5 most thankless but most valuable jobs are just as deserving of praise. It's clear our society can't function without them.

Housekeepers and General Cleaning Staff

woman in white long sleeve shirt and blue denim jeans standing beside white wooden framed glass

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

They wipe, sweep, and dust all corners of their employers’ homes, offices, and hospitals. This work became even more challenging as they were constantly exposed to environments infected with COVID-19, and were over-impacted by the deadly virus. The profession is over-represented with Latinas, and they also suffered from work instability when everything closed down, with many business and home employers choosing to stop paying their home cleaning staff.

Cleaning includes everything from making beds to wiping bodily fluids off surfaces. It can’t be easy to clean up areas where communicable diseases are found, but cleaning staff do the work that so many simply won’t. They often do it selflessly for the benefit of our communities, often out of economic necessity, and oftentimes for both reasons. Be kind to cleaning staff next time you interact with them. They deserve it.

Childcare Workers

girl smiling beside printer paper

Photo by Nicole Leeper on Unsplash

This one's a biggie. Childcare workers step in and ensure the safety and well-being of America's children while their parents are out exchanging their labor for money. During the pandemic many childcare workers and pre-school teachers faced big decisions to stay at their jobs or not. Their services were also deemed essential when other essential workers needed their children taken care of. But going to work at a place where the risk of transmission was very high because of how easily germs spread amongst children was a challenge that they all took on as the heroes that they are.

Elisabeth Tobia; a CEO at two early learning centers in Michigan, highlighted the struggles of childcare workers, pointing out how despite being so important for the functioning of our society, they are some of the lowest-paid workers in the U.S, many making only little more than fast-food workers. If you value your children, you should value the people who take care of them.

Farm Workers

man in gray hoodie and blue denim jeans kneeling on green grass field during daytime

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

One of the backbones of our society. They’ve maintained food readily available for us to consume by working every single day where they were constantly exposed to COVID-19 and other horrific work conditions. As reported by Rosa Tuiran and Nick Roberts, agricultural worker Osmar Orellana shared how afraid he felt having to go to work every day but how he did so regardless.

They further reported that farmworkers were amongst those with the highest risk of contracting COVID-19 due to the conditions in which they work, where social distancing was impossible and supplies, such as water and toilets are shared amongst many.

Despite all of this, they never stopped working and suffered the brunt of the worst of this pandemic while Americans found food on their store shelves without interruption. The MVP award goes to the people who are the reason America has food on their plates, no matter what environmental catastrophe is happening.

Food Workers

man in brown t-shirt holding a knife

Photo by Miquel Parera on Unsplash

While most restaurants shut down during the pandemic, many were deemed essential, including fast food establishments that remained open throughout the health crisis. They are some of the most undervalued workers and are often mistreated by customers.

A casual poke around social media will easily lead you to viral videos of food workers being yelled at, mistreated, or assaulted, and the mistreatment became even more common the further the pandemic progressed. Limited amounts of people were allowed into establishments at a time which meant they had to work twice as hard and twice as fast to get through the long lines that formed outside. Reporting on how difficult it’s been for these workers is common, with most of the reporting describing the mistreatment they endured and the difficulty they faced in navigating the pandemic. As with all service workers, be kind when ordering your next meal.

Caregivers and Home Healthcare Workers

a woman in a purple shirt holding a bottle of beer

Photo by Sidral Mundet on Unsplash

Caregivers ensure that the most vulnerable are taken care of, at all times. Many of the people they take care of were at the highest risk of contracting COVID-19, turning their already difficult job into more of a struggle. They aren’t even remotely close to getting the recognition they deserve and yet, the demand for their services has increased significantly since the beginning of the pandemic. Caregivers and home healthcare workers were oftentimes the only people that the most vulnerable had any access to; otherwise, they would be without a single soul and unable to care for themselves.

It’s no secret that such a commitment can challenge their emotional well-being. UNICEF put together a guide, “Caring for Caregivers during the Covid-19 Crisis,” which was not only an amazing resource but also a great reminder of everything they do for us and how we have to look out for them as well. Thank them and recognize their hard work next time you see one.

a Latina woman skillfully juggling the demands of family and work life.

Despite Latinas in the U.S. leading the charge as the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in 2023 and despite the rise of Bachelor’s Degree attainment among them, Latinas continue to feel the pressure of gender role expectations often imposed within Latino culture. A recent Pew Research Center study has shed light on just how much pressure Latinas in America are under.

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