2009 world of work - survive to thrive
back to overviewEmployees are Ready to Push Beyond ‘Survival Mode’ at Work, Employers Key to Helping Them Thrive
ATLANTA, 09.01.09 – Despite unemployment rates not seen in more than 25 years and businesses filing bankruptcy, scaling back or going out of business, U.S. workers report being ready to step up and regain control of their own and their companies’ destinies, according to the Randstad 2009 World of Work survey. In its tenth year, the survey findings overwhelmingly point to a workforce that is eager to move past ‘survival mode’ and focus their energies on a future where they and their companies will thrive.
Employees taking steps
The 2009 survey shows that 78 percent of surveyed employees are staying motivated and focused by maintaining a positive attitude; but this sentiment comes with some caution. While the majority of employees surveyed believe now is the right time to be innovative (91 percent), to focus on the future (90 percent) and expand their roles and responsibilities (83 percent), only 55 percent think it is a good time to speak their mind and far fewer (38 percent) think it’s a good time to take risks.
Another interesting finding from the survey centered on employees’ attitudes toward being laid off from their job. Only one in four employees (25 percent) expressed concern about being laid off in the next six months. Of those (75 percent) who aren’t concerned about being laid off, 52 percent attributed their lack of concern to having a positive attitude; this ranked higher than having a broad set of responsibilities (45 percent) and being a key player in the company’s future success (32 percent).
The loyalty gap
The 2009 World of Work shows that employees are taking a hands-on approach to achieving company goals and being more involved in the success of their organization. Seventy-two percent of employees reported a personal commitment to their organization while 79 percent agreed that it is important that they help achieve their organization’s goals. Interestingly, only 46 percent thought their organization is committed to their success.
While more employees (57 percent) are describing themselves as loyal to their employer, up eight percentage points from 2008, the proportion of employees who consider their company loyal to them has remained virtually unchanged since 2005 (about 25 percent), despite major shifts in the economy. This sentiment has widened the 23-point gap that existed last year to create a larger 32-point gap this year.
The difference in perceived loyalty indicates that employees don’t feel valued and highlights an opportunity for companies to do a better job of demonstrating loyalty and support toward employees. “Companies need to do their part to keep workers connected, engaged and motivated,” says Habelow. “Now is the time to focus on the employees who can make the difference between surviving and thriving. By communicating their value and role in achieving business goals, employers can retain their top talent and achieve better results once the recession is over.”
Optimistic, but realistic
This year’s World of Work report finds employees’ optimism about the future of the company down from just a few years ago. In 2003, 51 percent felt optimistic compared to 33 percent today, representing an 18-point decline. This is to be expected based on employees’ anxiety about their job situation. Additionally, the proportion of workers who agree that management at their company takes action to improve employee morale has dropped by 20 percentage points to just 17 percent.
Also of note, the survey revealed that a majority of workers (83 percent) feel fortunate to still have their jobs and that more than half fear for their economic well-being (52 percent). More than one in three (37 percent) felt their work environment would become less enjoyable and 34 percent were concerned their career progress will be slowed.
Other 2009 World of Work survey findings include:
- Only 12 percent of employees and 9 percent of employers are considering changing jobs in the next 12 months.
- Although the BLS reports more men have lost their jobs than women, 58 percent of women fear for their economic security compared to 47 percent of men.
- Being part of a workplace family is considerably less important to employees today (34 percent) than in 2003 (73 percent), representing a 39 percent drop.
- Twelve percent of employees surveyed expressed feeling envious of those who have left their organization
Abbreviated Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the United States from March 23 to April 15, 2009, among 2,199 employees and 833 managers. Harris Interactive panel members reflected the U.S. population of adults age 18+, employed full-time or self employed, and employers involved in decision making on strategic HR issues for at least six months. Data is weighted using Propensity Score Weighting, a proprietary weighting technique that balances all of the characteristics (e.g. demographic, attitudinal, and behavioral) of online respondents in order to project the U.S. general population.