American workers no longer see their jobs as a “Labor of Love”

Employees May Look for Change on the Horizon as
Workplace Attitudes Begin to Shift in 2010

Melville, N.Y. (Feb 12, 2010) – While the unemployment rate has started to show a slight decrease to 9.7%, and as companies appear to be shedding fewer jobs, there’s increased belief that the worst of the recession is behind us and that the country is on the road to recovery. Tied to this movement, however, is heightened speculation that the year ahead may bring about a renewed “war for talent” and that the job market will start to see a shift in power from employer to employee. One of the key factors that could jumpstart this transition is employee attitudes towards their current jobs – that is, are American workers still in love with what they do or are they looking for a change?

According to the annual Valentine’s Day American Workplace Insights Survey from Adecco Group North America, attitudes have shifted from a year ago as fewer U.S. workers (72%) love their job just as much or more than they did in 2009 (78%). In fact, only 39% feel the economic situation has caused them to appreciate their jobs more – a significant dip compared to more than half (55%) of workers feeling this way a year ago. In addition, employees’ acceptance to work harder to avoid layoffs (17%) and willingness to work longer hours (19%) are slightly fading compared to 2009.

Additional survey findings include:

  • Gen Y is Nervous and Falling Out of Love with their Jobs: More than a quarter (26%) of Gen Y workers are nervous about the instability of their job and 27% love their job less than last year, nearly a 10% jump over the 16% who felt this way last year.

  • Younger Generations are Inclined to Go Back to School: Gen X and Gen Y workers impacted by the economic situation feel that loving their job is less important to them today than it was a year ago. In fact, 20% of Gen X and 17% of Gen Y workers are thinking about going back to school.

  • Monday Brings More Indifference than Excitement: Keeping with 2009 trends, only a small percent (11%) of workers dread the beginning of the work week while 19% say that they are excited to get going. Workers do, however, appear closely divided between an appreciation to have a job at the start of the week (38%) versus a general indifference (31%).

  • Gen X Most Likely to “Do Over” their Career if They Could: If workers had the option to start their careers over again, about half (51%) would change their current profession, particularly Gen X respondents. Fifty-six percent of them said they would start over compared to only 38% of their grandparents’ “Silent Generation.”

  • Less Appreciation and Confidence in Management. Similarly to 2009, employees’ perception of company leadership continued to wane with 93% of workers noting confidence in their executive team has been negatively impacted as a result of the economic situation. Additionally, there’s less appreciation for bosses as only 10% of workers appreciate their boss more in 2010 as a result of the economic situation versus 16% feeling this way last year.

“As America recovers from a tough economic climate in 2009, those who survived the recession may be questioning if they still want the same job or career when employment opportunities rebound,” said Joanie Ruge, Adecco Group North America senior vice president. “In 2010, I think we’re going to see business leaders start to get a little more aggressive – thinking about and consciously deciding when to shift to a more optimistic, opportunistic employment stance. That shift is going to be critical for employers who want to attract and retain the best, strongest talent. Likewise, for candidates today who may be looking to shift careers or experience, they may want to consider applying for temporary and project-based jobs that can shift their career in the direction of higher growth opportunities.”

Adecco Group North America provides the following tips for employers as they prepare for a potential shift in the job marketplace:

  • Open the Door to Communicating with Employees: Employees may have less confidence in leadership because they don’t feel like they have a voice into the C-suite. This is demonstrated when an organization’s leadership create a collaborative work environment and regularly solicit for both formal and informal feedback which help to inform operational shifts and changes. The best employers keep their staff informed and embrace an open door policy through forums such as town hall meetings, open conference calls, regular email communication, newsletters, etc. – helping to drive employee confidence and productivity.

  • Make Retention a Top Priority Now: Behind the scenes, managers may be doing what they can to retain their employees, but staff won't feel valued if these efforts aren't visible to them. Retention efforts begin through mutual dialogue and building trust. Managers should engage their employees in the realities of the business challenges to foster employees' understanding of the market and competition. Employers should also consider mapping out a growth plan for employees and communicate it to their teams. Employees will then understand that managers are invested in their future and they'll be more confident in investing their time and career with the organization.

  • Explore Opportunities to Recognize and Reward: Employees’ feelings may be waning about their employers because many companies have experienced salary freezing or asking their workforce to work harder with fewer staff support. Companies should explore ways to creatively recognize and reward employees through alternative means – potentially either through awards program or team contest. Improving morale just by recognizing good work can help ease compensation complaints. In addition, gestures of appreciation – a thank you email/note, recognition during meetings, a small gift card or surprise pizza lunch, can be impactful and effectively demonstrate appreciation for hard work and dedication. Being more creative with these sorts of rewards can help improve employee morale while continuing to be financially responsible.
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