Economic Uncertainties Rock American Workforce

American workers are increasingly concerned about job related issues inflicted by the current economic crisis. According to the Workplace Insights [...]

September 11 2008 by Fayazuddin A Shirazi


American workers are increasingly concerned about job related issues inflicted by the current economic crisis. According to the Workplace Insights survey, about 81 percent of the American workers are worried about the growing job insecurity, with high gas prices being the number one concern, followed by stagnant paycheck and work-life balance taking the second and third positions respectively.

Job-Related Worries

2008

2007

1 – High Gas Prices

25%

12%

2 – Stagnant Paycheck

13%

16%

3 – Work-life balance

12%

16%

4 – The Rising Cost of Health Care

9%

12%

5 – Job Market

7%

4%

6 – Opportunities for Advancement

6%

12%

7 – Outsourcing of jobs

4%

3%

Other

5%

6%

The survey, which was released a couple of weeks ago by Adecco, a firm specializing in workforce solutions, says that it is important for workers to constantly think about how they can best prepare and position themselves for success, in the current economic scenario marred by a shaken marketplace and an unstable job market. 

Speaking to CE Online, Bernadette Kenny, Chief Career Officer, Adecco says that workers need to remain confident that they are easily employable in the marketplace because of their education, current existing skills and most importantly their positive attitude. And for their part the employers need to be transparent and communicative with the employees. “Current workers need to be flexible in the current circumstances of economic downturn. They should be forthcoming to easily adopt new roles. They should constantly strive to stay ahead of the competitive curve as many companies have combined positions and responsibilities to cut cost,” says Kenny.

Commenting on how workers can minimize their job-related worries, Kenny feels the best way for workers to minimize job-related worries is to ensure that they are consistently performing well beyond employer expectations.

“A worker in today’s job market should ensure that their personal goals and objectives match that of their employer.  Not only should the employees strive to meet the goals of their employers, but they should also provide input on what those objectives should be in the future,” says Kenny, adding that workers who possess leadership qualities, and the ability to run the business on their own will always have an upper hand on those who do not possess such skills.

 Alongside, the employers should also work towards minimizing worker worries and increase feelings of appreciation for their staff. “To ease worker worries, employers should openly communicate with the employees. Employees should be frequently apprised of the company’s performance in relation to its competitors. Employees should be aware of the company’s strengths and weaknesses,” she says.  

Kenny believes employers should cross train their workers through professional development, as they may be forced to take on additional roles due to layoffs or downsizing.  Additionally, employers need to boost employee morale by commending their staff for efficient performance, and by inculcating a sense of ownership amongst the employees; they can regenerate the lost enthusiasm. “Employers need to treat workers as an integral part of the business. Lay-offs and downsizing should only be to a limited extent. Managements need to consistently provide advancement opportunities for efficient workers; and by encouraging flexible work policies, the employers can alleviate worker worries effectively,” says Kenny. 

Interestingly, a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, a leading voice of the human resource profession, also revealed similar trend. SHRM’s What Employers Are Doing to Help Their Employees with High Gas Prices in 2008 survey found that, many employers are helping workers cope with the record rise in gas prices with a mix of solutions, including cash and flexible work options. Some employers are offering direct financial aid, such as cost-of-living adjustments (2%), gas cards as rewards for employee performance (14%) and increases in mileage reimbursements to the IRS maximum (42%).

Employees

Employers

1. Always be saving: Regardless of the economic environment, it’s always a smart strategy to put some money aside should your employment status change or you need emergency funds.  This will allow you to be prepared and less panicked should you need these additional resources.

1. Be open and honest: Feelings of uneasiness are largely due to workers not feeling informed or appraised of what’s happening to respond to the current business environment. Employers should communicate frequently and be as transparent as possible to calm these concerns.

2. Keep exceeding expectations: The best companies always keep retaining and recruiting top talent as a top priority.  If you continue to deliver strong results and exceed expectations, your chances of job security and on the job rewards will be greater.

2. Listen, listen, listen: Don’t assume to know what’s really worrying your workforce.  Be active in gaining the feedback of your staff whether it be through issuing a survey, town hall discussion or one-on-one conversations.  Hear them out and develop your plans based on their feedback.

3. Be flexible: Just as your worries and concerns have shifted, so have your employer’s.  Be mindful of these organizational shifts in strategy or priorities and be flexible to aligning your work goals with the company’s.

3. Institute quick wins: Are gas prices the top issue? Think about offering the ability to work from home or providing top performers with the occasional gas card to show your appreciation.  Is work-life balance the biggest concern? Provide more flex-time and formalize your offerings.

Related link: 

  1. Adecco’s Workplace Insights survey 2007
  2. Read SHRM’s What Employers Are Doing to Help Their Employees with High Gas Prices in 2008 complete release
  3. Labor Day: But where’s the labor?