28.3.11

THE 24/7 TREADMILL IS UNSUSTAINABLE.  During a recession, any job is better than no job at all, but, come the recovery, people who have options will exercise them.
For the past three years, companies have been learning to do more with less — a good way for employers to weather the economic storm, but not necessarily the best move for employee morale. Smaller workforces and budgets have meant added pressure on employees, as many have been forced to work longer hours and/or take pay cuts.

Chances are though, had you spoken to any of these overworked/underpaid employees in the past few years, while they might have expressed disdain over the greater pressure they faced at work, many of them would have also said that they were happy with their job, because they were just grateful to have one.

But now, with a better economy on the horizon, many workers are re-evaluating their company loyalty. According to a new study from MetLife, 47 percent of employees report feeling a very strong loyalty to their employers, down from 59 percent in 2008 (and a three-year low point).

Though employers will admit that they’ve expected a lot out of their employees — 43 percent of large companies and 38 percent of small companies say they’ve increased productivity in the last year — the decline in employee loyalty was an unforeseen consequence. Fifty-one percent of employers surveyed said they felt employees were very loyal, roughly the same percentage as in 2008.
We speak of labor demand and of labor supply for a reason.  Johnny Paycheck has a song about an adverse supply response.
“Worker loyalty has been slowly ebbing over the last several years, and it is important that employers take action to turn the tide around. The short-term gains employers realized from greater productivity appear to be short-lived and now pose bottom-line challenges as key talent considers other employment opportunities that have arisen as a result of the improving economy,” Anthony J. Nugent, an executive vice president at MetLife, said in a statement. “There is no doubt that the rebounding economy will bring more opportunities for employees, especially the high performers.”

According to the survey, more than one-third (36 percent) of employees plan to look for work at a new company this year, and according to a CareerBuilder poll from earlier this year, 76 percent of employees would change jobs if the right opportunity came along.
It's been a maintained hypothesis at Cold Spring Shops that income inequality is generally, if not exclusively, a skill premium.  If the skill premium manifests itself in a less burdensome job description, well, that's one more margin along which employers have to optimize.

1 comment:

Kerry said...

So interesting! About a year ago, I interviewed at a local gov't for a finance job. Since I had recently come from a local gov't (that had furloughs and no pay raises), I asked what the impact of no pay raises for 2 years had been on morale...and if they thought that this all had an effect on people's willingness to stick around.

To my shock, the lower level employees (some that I would be managing) piped up, "morale is terrible. A lot of us are thinking about leaving to go to the private sector."

Uhhhhh...so no, I didn't take that job.