Page 1 of 5
By Michael Neubarth
How bad is it out there? Pretty bad, according to recent reports that relate the miseries of the employed and the unemployed. These studies paint a grim picture of the U.S. workplace and economy.
A new workplace survey from Monster.com and Human Capital Institute, released on October 14, 2009, reports that "our worker respondents are, in general, an unhappy lot." The general tone of the workers surveyed, it says, "was of frustration and, in many cases, despair."
The report is in two parts, "The Great Recession from the Worker Perspective" and "The Great Recession from the Employer Perspective." The findings, says Monster.com, are the result of a survey conducted in May and June 2009 of more than 700 companies and 5,000 workers in the U.S.
What the data shows, says the survey, "is remarkable in the extent to which it suggests that, in workers' views, management has been exploitative of the recession and is also less tolerant of challenges to its authority."
The study found that "at least in the short term, workers of all ages and at all levels are highly stressed. They appear suspicious, resentful and even fearful of their employers, to the extent that they are, in some cases, less productive at work and in most cases, actively seeking work elsewhere."
"Workers are remarkably harsh in their views of employers' attitudes," said the report. The study showed that 60% of workers believe employers are exploiting the recession to drive longer hours and/or lower pay from their workforce, 59% believe employers are less concerned about employee retention, and 46% believe employers are now less tolerant of dissent and challenges to its authority. Only 27% excuse their employers for requiring layoffs and longer hours because they believe their employers' hands were forced by the recession, says the study.
From the responses, says the report, "there can be little doubt that workers in general are cynical toward and mistrusting of employers today. Our respondents are clear in their views surrounding employers' reactions to this recession, and their portrayal is not flattering."
Lisa Rowan, Program Director for HR and Talent Management Services at IDC, is quoted as saying: "There has been some pretty shoddy treatment of employees out there, including a lack of communication about layoffs and no regard to engagement of the survivors, so I do think there will be a backlash when the recovery takes hold. If employers took this recession as an opportunity to simply cut costs, then woe be to them."
Similarly, Jesse Harriott, senior vice president and chief knowledge officer at Monster, is quoted as saying: "There is no denying this environment has been tough for both employers and workers, but the resentment workers have built should be cause for concern for employers, particularly if they have had to impose longer hours, lower pay, decreased benefits or have become a less flexible workplace."
Young workers, says the report, "especially those representing Generation Y, seem particularly cynical and mistrusting of 'Corporate America.' "
The findings show that "there is a critical disconnect between what employers perceive is the impact of this recession on the workforce and what workers believe." Employers are vastly overrating the morale of their employees, says the study, which found that 78% of employers feel that employees are more likely to be "just happy to have a job" while only 58% of employees said they felt that way.
While 79% of workers say they are more likely to be actively seeking work elsewhere, only 20% of employers appear to be aware of it.
The data and workers' feedback "should alarm employers who may erroneously believe that they have the pulse of the workforce in this recession," says the report. The findings, it says, demonstrate "that there is a critical disconnect between what employers perceive is the impact of this recession on the workforce and what workers believe."
"Today's employers feel that employees are loyal due to the economic times, but the reality is they are not," said Katherine Jones, HCI Research Fellow.